The word “cool” is forged in the furnace of life and tempered by life experiences. As a kid, this furnace is under construction. So, you use it for everything and everybody—from the problematic bro clan to the spoilt, rich brats in the schoolyard.
Whatever the hell it meant back in the days, this “cool” feeling leaves so many people insecure about constantly having to fit in today.
Luckily, a clan of daredevils from the foggy front-lines of peppy youth liberated us. They were the job-wielding, elder cousins and college-going uncles and aunts, of their generation.
In an era when kids weren’t suddenly “woke” enough to make their own financial, fashion and food choices, these deep-cover operatives were a teenager’s OG (original) gateway into the “cool” underworld— powered by white lies, occasional petty cash and a heck lot of daring.
Kids’ primary foes are their parents—the ones setting the rules, the budget and most importantly, the ghastly study hours. Kids hate that. This is when you need a fellow rebel you can “let loose with”, even if it only meant an extra ice cream scoop or another glass of lip-smacking lassi.
These adults could never match the sheer money muscle of the “bossy elders”, but through them, you scored your pyrrhic victory… Your square inch of carefree freedom in the adult wasteland.
They knew when the household slept, where the top food haunts were situated and how to operate the morbidly obese CRT television sets and tape recorders. Armed with sluggish Windows 95 desktops, creaky type-writers and Nokia 5185 phones, they were the family’s tech wizards.
They were everything you wanted to be— smarter, taller and nerdier.
The ’90s meant liberalisation—of the economy, and the mind. Young adults could now immerse themselves in the legends of Phantom, Tintin & Asterix, just as they fawned over Pran’s Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo & Pinky or Bengal’s staple Shuktara & Anandamela.
Konami’s 8-bit Contra, $1 fake copies of the Nintendo Gameboy and pirated computer games from around the world, such as Metal Gear Solid, Age Of Empires and Road Rash were flooding the market, and into young Indians’ hands.
Your Walkman held both Cliff Richard’s Private Collection and Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai songs comfortably. To “drop a hint”, you could either croon Venga Boys’ “Want A Kiss When The Sun Goes Down” or Lucky Ali’s “O Sanam”—the choice was yours. It was bonkers in teen fantasyland.
A truly fulfilling relationship between an aunt or uncle and their nephew or niece, is one of pure indulgence… All the fun, and the anxieties are few and far between.
It is about realising no matter how broke you are, you can always splurge on the simple joys of life, like a Bapuji Cake ($0.041)—a half-a-century old sugary dollop of delight.
In today’s age of YOLO (you only live once), FOMO (fear of missing out) and whatever four-letter acronym we come up with next, we are perpetually impaired by the fear of not fitting in and not being “cool” enough. While it may be way too late for the adults, we can save the kids from this epidemic.
If you are a millennial parent worried sick about raising your kids well… Take away the iPads, and replace them with a bunch of cool aunts and uncles. They may not be the adults a kid “needs”, but they sure as hell are the ones every kid deserves!