By Nanditha Sankar:
I was born in the early 1990s. Having lived in both the 90s and the 2000s , I’ve seen several objects vanish into oblivion. With the advent of technology and improved comfort, our lives have transformed- mostly for the better. Traditional play-things and toys have given way to smart-toys, those that can even read minds. The iPad is almost every urban child’s imaginary friend(read as Siri). Sadly, physical activities seem to have lost out in this era where playing couch-potato at the mercy of electronics seems to be the order of the day. More than lamenting about the somewhat sorry state of affairs especially when it comes to moving oneself about, let’s revisit the past through these items which have lost out in the rat-race.
The iPod of those days. The Walkman was our instant access to songs . With a size that fit into the palms, miniaturization was redefined with its arrival into the public sphere.The Walkman went hand-in-hand with the cassette. Long-journeys were incomplete without this. Oft have we found ourselves short of the life-giving batteries, sometimes having to be stuck with a defunct Walkman mid-way through a trip. Today, they live in our shelves, long-forgotten.
Super Mario (because it was a class apart, I decided to put it first), Dave, Wolf, Alladin, Caveman, Roadrash and Brick Games. They were not just games.
In an inexplicable way, these games which may seem bland to many of the gamers of today, engaged us like never before. Stealth, new lives, getting stuck in a level for days, these were the most brain-wrenching issues that affected a kid in the 90s. Recently, I installed Dave once again in my PC. And needless to say, that Dave sound when the little man jumps brought back a flood of memories.
3.The TV shows
Doordarshan was the be-all and the end-all of television. Crowds thronged homes with TV sets and shows were enjoyed in unison. Sundays were reserved for the saga of Mahabharat. The dancing outline of fire in Om Namah Shivaya was how we were introduced to Indian Gods, much before the Shiva Trilogy. Other shows like Shaktiman, Ali Baba, Legends of The Hidden Temple and Hum Paanch ruled the roost. Not to forget the ‘old’ Cartoon network with its wonderful array of shows like Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, Swat Kats, Captain Planet etc. To those of us who lived with these shows, the present CN might seem bland and disappointing. YouTube re-runs are all that we have left.
4.The Pagers and Biggie Phones
Those with a pager were the ‘cool’ people of our times. It signified their importance, busy souls with someone paging them whenever important events cropped up. Mobile phones were big. Most people I know screamed into it for fear their voices might not reach the distant listener. The young and the old stood wonder-struck at the amazing marvel. Little did we know that the pagers would die an early death while mobile phones would revolutionize the world around us connecting millions and millions.
5.The World of Music
Indie Pop had a cult status in the 90s which is no longer to be seen or felt. Names like Alisha Chinoi, Shaan, Lucky Ali, Adnan Sami and Sonu Nigam sang their way into our hearts. The Colonial Cousins and Euphoria came out with chart-busters. Rushing to the stores to grab their newly released cassettes was something most of us did. Today, Indie-Pop is almost dead. The thought of Yo-yo Honey Singh sends a shudder. And music shops are shutting down across every nook and corner.
90s brought us the rare pleasure of seeing sportsmen revered as legends today, play together. It was then that Sachin, Saurav, Dravid, Laxman, Kumble and Srinath enthralled our lives. When Paes and Bhupathi catapulted India to a recognizable position on the world map. Tuning in to hardly accessible channels that showed these stars play, seeing our country grow as a sporting nation, those were blissful moments to any one. Thankfully, Indian sports has seen a lot more highs in the following years and a more uniform representation of the country in all forms of sports. It’s when the men of our days retire that the wistful nostalgia seeps in.
The world in the 90s was different. To describe it with so much would not suffice. It was a lot more than that. From playing Lagori and skipping on the streets to waiting for the ice-cream walah to arrive at our streets, childhood was spent in the streets. Travelling in double-deckers, writing letters to our friends(not e-mails), creating our first email id, sipping color Soda, watching the Hamara Bajaj ad and doing so much more. Those times are gone. What remains is a wanting to go back in time, to relive those days, to live in an era that can only be recreated in our minds and words.