The People Who Lived…

It’s a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. Amongst a million other thoughts going on in my mind (pretty unusual for a small-brained boy like me), I wonder what business I have, staying awake at this ungodly hour on a Sunday. Why am I awake? Am I in love? Or worse, am I hungry? No wait. Yeah, that’s what keeping me away from heavenly peace. My father. Ranting on, to quote sic, “Humari peedhi kitni achi thi. 2 rupaye ka samosa milta tha. 50 rupaye ki pocket money se pura mahina chalta tha. 10 rupaye me Amitabh Bachchhan ki movie dekhne jaate the…”. And I guess everyone knows how this goes. Did I mention the mandatory “500 rupaye leke Mumbai aaye the”? Guess I forgot. Well that’s because it’s time for me to sleep (or at least pretend to), for, it’s the occasion for my dear mother to quip in with her own childhood memorabilia. “Hum sab bhai-bhen saath milke khelte the. Pura pura din masti karte the ek dusre ke saath. Aajkal ke bacho ko toh dekho, pura din whatsyappa.” Which, as you all know, has to end with our Maa cursing for Mata Rani to burn all mobile phones and Facebook and Whatsapp and ‘woh photo daalne waali cheez’.

Yes. Yehi hai Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. And if you’re as unlucky as me, this topic will be brought up every time someone realizes our generation hasn’t seen the beauty, class and grace of Waheeda Rehman, or felt the excitement of a Gavaskar-vs-Windies rivalry. In which case, all you can do is sulk back in your favorite part of the couch (yeah Mr/Ms Sibling, THAT’S MY SPOT!) and then proceed to write an open letter to all the 50’s kids that, no people, only 90’s kids will get it. Like I am right now…

Yes mom, dad, chacha, bua and padosi ke bhai ke biwi ke chacha ki beti, WE, read again – WE, are the chosen ones. We’re the people who lived. And still do. If you don’t believe me, this piece is for you.

Yes, I agree, we didn’t get to see The Sultans of Swing live in action. Yes, I agree, we spend 100 bucks on just a cup of coffee. Yes, I also agree, your James Bond was much cooler than ours (kidding, I don’t. Daniel Craig > Sean Connery). But in no way does that imply our childhood was a ruin compared to yours. Because let’s face it. Our generation has been the only one to have ‘had the right stuff’, at the right time. To put it in perspective, think of a 5 year old addicted to gadgets, or a 30 year old watching Scooby Doo and Swat Cats. Daft? Very. The 90’s kids were the ones who were introduced to the best cartoons the world ever saw. And admit it, you enjoyed watching them along with us too. Tom and Jerry, Popeye, Courage The Cowardly Dog, Noddy, Oswald, Coyote and Roadrunner… you name it, and we’ve watched it. We grew up, and Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Dragon BallZ, Pokemon, Beyblade and the like became a part of the inner circle of our life. Besides the PM of the then ruling Congress, who was your favourite cartoon of your time, now?

And all this, while we were still the generation that played outside. Sadly, being the last ones to do so. The ek-tappa-lagke-bench-ko-touch-karna was our 4, the deewar-ko-lagna was our 6, and woh-aunty-ke-ghar-me-ball-gaya was our Out. Not to forget, jo-ball-maarega-wohi-lene-jaayega. Maybe we couldn’t reach Wankhede on our cycles like you used to, but yes, we rode around. Fell. Got hurt, bruised. And still rode it the next day. You screamed at us for coming home covered in mud after a nice session of monsoon football. Boy, we even invented our own stuff too, stuff we now have absolutely no reminiscence about. Yes, we did it all. Just like you. Right at the age when we were supposed to.

We went to school, came home and did our homework ourselves, without the help of Google Chacha. We became part of the rat race that strove for marks, that belittled even the 80%-ers. The race, that your generation never witnessed itself, but started it nonetheless. You distributed rasgullas when you scored First Class, we try to work harder when we languish at 89. Yes, we handled the pressure you exerted on us, because well, we’re supposed to.

You deride our movies, claim Bollywood is no longer about good storylines, and instead, sex is all that sells. A scantily clad heroine and a chiseled, six-packed hero mouthing kick-ass dialogues is all that’s needed to reach the coveted 100 crore club. Maybe, yes. But we’d rather have that, than be barraged by a stereotypical depiction of women in the kitchen, covered in a ghunghat and being harassed by her Hitler-esque saas. We’d rather watch light-headed comic sitcoms like F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Big Bang Theory, than decade long decadent shows of a saasbahu out to destroy each other’s life. Yes, the character just said “sex”. Yes, the couple just kissed on screen without a flower covering their faces. But we’re not the ones who took India’s population to the 1 billion mark, are we?

How about your ever-hot-favourite topic? Our world of smartphones. The gadgets that you claim make us dumb instead. Maybe the amount of time we spend on it is too much, I agree. But no, we’d rather have those than spend our time wondering if the letter ever reached my friend. Behind the facebook-syappa that you whine about, is a round-the-clock-access to happenings around the world. Yeah dad, I don’t watch NDTV. I watched Fast & Furious for the 10th time at 9 PM. But I know Brexit happened. That Messi quit. That a riot erupted in Kashmir. All of them, the second after they did. Meet my very knowledgeable friend, Mr.Twitter. And other members of my gang, like Instagram, and Snapchat. The apps we should be using at our age to connect with people sitting miles away. Build connections. After all dad, zindagi me network hi kaam aata hai na? Pehchaan se hi toh saste me maal milta hai, right?

First ball 4’s by Sehwag. Last ball 6’s by Dhoni. 150 kmph thunderbolts by Brett Lee. The mastery of Sachin, the magic of Kohli. The Calypso Kings’ entertainment. We’ve seen it all, enjoyed it all. So what if we missed the gems of the Waughs, the domination of the fearsome foursome Windie bowlers, the elation of Kapil’s Devils? Our love for the game, the excitement we derive from it, is n0 less than you did. So dad, don’t you ever bring that up. And mom, don’t disturb me. India’s chasing and Kohli’s on strike. Maar, b*******, maar Malinga ko!

“Ye kya bakwaas aawaz waale gaane sunta rehta hai? Kuch samajh bhi aata hai?” are the exact words we hear every time we headbang to some classic Skrillex dubstep. Yes of course, because Chandan sa badan, chanchal chitvan makes you go dum-dum-da-da-dum-dum-chika-chika-dum on the dance floor. “Our songs had deep meaning” are the words spoken by your very species who play “chaar botal vodka” at sangeet and dance to “abhi toh party shuru hui hai” in the baraat. We have a Bruno Mars for every romantic dinner, a Linkin Park for those all-boy gaming sessions, an Eminem for every time we’re short on motivation, the Hardwells and Pitbulls to get us rolling and ruling the dance floor, we even have those classic Maroon V melodies to accompany us for a walk down Marine Drive with the wind blowing through our hair. And this makes our music bakwaas? #CoolStoryBro.

And frankly guys, what can we even do about your 2-rupeed samosa reaching 10 rupees? Or your 500 worth goodies costing 2000 today. After all, honi, last ball pe six maarne wala Dhoni, and inflation in the economy, ko koun rok sakta hai?

We’re the 90’s kids. We’ve seen the turn of the millennia. We’ve seen the world change from ghuma-ghumake-number-lagao landline phones, to the advent of touchscreen smartphones with hand gesture capabilities. We experienced the times of waiting half an hour in Mumbai for the operator to establish contact with our relative in Ahmedabad. And we’re also the ones who Skype our America-waale bhaiyya. We saw you struggle with every photo you took, because the reels were too expensive to be wasted, even as we grew up to take 32 selfies in the changing room wearing that Ambani-esque dress we could never afford. We saw the modernization of the world. And now, we’re the ones who are fast-tracking it forward.

So, dear 50’s kids. Don’t you ever claim that you were the last golden crop to ever inhabit the field of the earth. Maybe you sowed the seeds for us to grow, but that doesn’t make us a lesser, or a “cropped crop”, does it? Because we’re the Chosen Ones. The ones who not only lived the present, but also surfed in the pensieve of your past. The ones with marks that still connect to the inglorious past. The ones who came out of the closet. The People Who Lived.

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