A couple of days back, my mind aimlessly wandered towards the years I spent in our ancestral house in the old city area of Hyderabad. Those were days when I was still in school and we lived in a joint family setup with almost 20 plus people in the house. The fact that there was no 24x7 idiot box transmission meant that all our free time was spent breaking window panes of neighbouring houses (and our house as well !) with sixes that might put Dhoni and Yuvraj to shame.
The time we spend blogging, chatting, orkutting on the web these days were beautifully utilized in running around the house, gathering all area kids and playing 'Test matches' in the school ground nearby after bribing the caretaker with some oranges!
And the most rewarding of those experiences came with the cycle rides. One did not need to own a cycle in those days. One had the services of a neighbourhood 'rent-a-cycle'-wala who would rent us cycles for as less as 50paise an hour (and we considered that costly!). We cousins would embark on our journeys through the lanes and bylanes of the Old City area of Hyderabad, where one could find more cycles and cycle-rickshaws than probably any other place on earth, or so we thought! We explored each and every bylane in a 3km radius from our house on our daily rides. It might have been prudent if the folks from Survey of India had hired our services.
There used to be an old magazine vendor near our house and our weekends were spent on buying old Tinkles and Amar Chitra Katha magazines at paltry 50p- Re 1 rates. Then it was the turn to number it, register it and add it to our library, which boasted of over 500 titles. It held a proud place in our house. Visting cousins and friends were envious of the same.
Moharram, the time to mourn for the Muslims, was actually a time to rejoice for us kids. The ten days preceeding the final day used to see small makeshift roadside stalls selling numerous varieties of play stuff for the kids.. whistles and 'pitpiti' being my personal favorites. All shapes and sizes of balloons, bubble blowers et al were sold at such exhorbitant (!) rates that our annual Moharram shopping bill crossed a huge ten to fifteen rupees! And it was fun to use those pitpitis on our friends from the New City areas of the city in school, who would jump and scream at the sudden noise!
Hyderabadi Irani chai was another very regular speciality we indulged in. It costed a rupee and we would collect enough to devour fatafats in the school canteen and have irani chai nearer home.
Today, we live in an area of the Modern Hyderabad, barely eight miles from the ancestral house, but the world is so totally different. Today, its the hustle and bustle of the busy crowds. The daily cycle rides have been replaced by car drives to the main road to pick up our folks. The Moharram shopping takes a backseat to the visits to the Lifestyle and Central malls. The irani chai is more often than not replaced by the Irish coffee and cappuchino! The window panes are now intact (can't remember the last one I cracked) while the keyboard gets rapped and the mouse gets tapped. The Faster Fane and Malgudi Days and the Mahabharats have been replaced by the CIDs and Indian Idols or even the nonsense news on India TV.
I wish there was a system restore facility where I could go back to those late 80s and early 90s ! Alas, the time for that has gone... I'd wish to write more.. but my friend has been continually buzzing me on yahoo messenger to chat with him !