Each era is different and each has its own charm. I guess I have entered the hallowed portals of ‘Alas! Those were some days!’ phase of my life. So, with the summer vacations all around, I drift quite a few decades back to the vacations of our times.
Nowadays, vacation time means summer camps, art classes, cricket/tennis coaching camps, dance studios etc. etc. I’m sure the children must be enjoying all these various activities that draw out different talents in them.
Our vacations were quite different – there were no summer camps nor any art/dance classes. Leave alone video or computer games, today’s kids would be shocked to learn that the tv centre ( in Mumbai) started when I was in 10th standard. I guess, this all would be just unimaginable!
Even in the absence of any of these tools or means, we simply enjoyed our carefree vacations. Absolutely nothing to do and at the same time, we could do everything that we wished to. Sounds crazy?
Though I grew up in Mumbai, our housing premises had all possible rural factors. Wide courtyards (both back and front), huge trees – so lots of shadow; there used to be even a well at the back but that was filled and closed for safety reasons.
Vacation mornings were spent ‘pretending to help’ mother in the kitchen. And then there was homework. The school provided us with a stack of printed papers as vacation homework, so as ‘not to loose touch with the academic subjects’. but completing one page a day was more than suffeicient and that didn’t take much time.
At the centre of the front yard, there were two big trees – a neem and a mango. A long rope swing tied to either one of these trees, was a high point of the vacation. But we kids couldn’t climb high up to tie the thick ropes securely (obtained from the landlord’s store room). So then request, cajole, or by hook or crook get some elder or some worker to do the needful. Then it would be a race and fight for this swing. The long ropes swung quite far – that was dizzy!
The afternoons were reserved for card games (no, not the ones involving money, just simple ones). Or, if the group members were less in number, then some board games like snake and ladder or ludo etc. But it had to be some quiet activity during the noon, because that was the ‘siesta’ time for most of the mommies. So any kind of noise would result in receiving a good dose of yelling. Thus we had to choose the ‘adda’ place very carefully – either a quiet veranda or the tiled part of the front-yard, (beneath the jack-fruit tree).
Once the precious siesta time was over, all the kids would burst out like the stream out of a pressure cooker. With the odd architecture of our building, playing hide-n-seek was quite hard. At various times, new extension wings had been added to the landlord’s original bungalow, thus creating ample nooks and corners to hide and making it very difficult to seek. Then there was hop-scotch, lagori, gilli-danda etc – options were many.
Along with coconut, jack-fruit, drumstick, neem etc. (trees which were of no use to us kids) there were in all ten different mango trees around the premises. We tried to be as quiet as possible when we threw stones to fell the raw mangoes, but the old couple (landlords) was smart and could always smell our nefarious activities and pelted stones (stored in their first floor balcony) at us. Half the members of our gang were their own grandchildren and even they couldn’t escape the stone-shower.
Well, in today’s context, it may appear that we wasted so much time and could have surely learnt some skill or art and improved the quality of our lives. Yes, may be so. but as I said, each era is different and each has its own charm.
This post is written for the