The Good Old Days

Now that I’m over the hill…. err… past my teens and twenties, I often find myself reminiscing about my childhood and marveling about how different it was compared to my sons’! I also find myself drawn into conversations about our collective childhood experiences with folks of the same age group.

The Good Old Days

This weekend was another nostalgia fest! I was chatting with a couple I met at a birthday party, and while watching the kids squealing with laughter in a giant jumper organized by the host, we remarked how different our own birthday parties were, and from there we started on our journey back in time about how different it all was!

I’m sure most of us have had the same experiences. Summer holidays with our siblings and cousins, playing cricket, and hopscotch and kabbadi and all kinds of outdoor games; waiting for the ice-cream wallah and hoping against hope that our dads would buy us a cone; indulging in long games of Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders or Ludo; and of course, watching Doordarshan!

Of all the looking-back series, I realize how much of a role Doordarshan played in our lives! No matter how much we cursed the channel back then, now all we can recall is fond memories of Chitrahaar, Ramayan, Mahabharata, the Sunday movies, Buniyaad, Hum Log and the many others we watched!

After this love fest, the couple whom I was talking to then remarked about how unfortunate it is that our children did not get the benefit of being born back in the good old days. It was at this stage that I paused. It’s not that I haven’t heard this line before. I hear it a lot with my generation nowadays of how spoilt our kids are and how wonderful our own childhood has been despite not having a zillion of the comforts that today’s youth has.

But, I also remember hearing the same standard lines being uttered by my own adult relatives when I was a child! The harkening back to old bygone days when they didn’t have TV, when they only listened to the radio, or maybe to their moms and grand-moms telling them stories… heck! They didn’t even have running water, but those days were golden and they wished that we too could have had all the benefits of living in that era instead of the one we enjoyed. And, I remember thinking, “No thanks! Sounds like a major snore fest!” I may or may not have called them grumpy old fogies in my head!

My point is that children, for the most part, do enjoy their childhood, no matter which era! We enjoyed ours and did not miss any of video game playing or the latest electronic achievements of the past decade simply because they did not exist and so, we were not aware of them! But, do we not use them extensively now? If we were so against technology, then why do most of us Facebook and tweet? Haven’t we made meaningful relationships with our blog readers and others online? And, how many of us only have Doordarshan as our primary channel nowadays?

It’s not that I advocate our kids being left with their Wii’s and Nintendo DS’s all day. I completely agree with all the Parentous articles published so far of limiting our children’s online time and allowing for ‘real world experiences’! And, ‘real life friends’ will always be more special, no matter what! But, I dislike having to join the ranks of the ‘grumpy old fogies’!

Children will enjoy themselves, no matter if you hand them an electronic device or an old cardboard box! We can decide what we wish them to enjoy most of the time, but I balk against limiting them completely or having unrealistic expectations of them playing with one and not the other. I chafe against this presumption on our part, similar to how I chafed against the grownups of my childhood, that somehow our childhood was the best and the youngsters of today are to be pitied! The only pity I would feel is for kids who have had no childhood.

Roshni was born and brought up in Calcutta and is now living in California. Her two rambunctious boys, Big A, age 8, and Little a, age 4, are the main subjects of her blog (http://www.bigaandlittlea.com) and she can be found tweeting away (@RoshniAaMom) in her free time (you may well ask, what free time?!)

  • Hi Roshni,

    You know, your article really took me back to my ‘good ol’ days.’ Yes, the choice is indeed ours. What we want our children to enjoy with, what we want them to cherish, what memories we want them to create for themselves.
    A lovely article. Your children are blessed to have you as their mother.

    • thank you so much!!! I’m so glad you liked it!!

  • A good trip down the memory lane… Those of us born in 70s and 80s are the last of the Doordarshan generation… I still remember the wait for Chitrahaar the weekly dose of Bollywood songs & going to the roof top to align the antenna. 🙂

    • Roshni

      I know! And it would be so annoying to get ads in the middle so that half an hour was precious little!!

  • Chitrahaar, Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, the half-an-hour dose of Duck tales or Mickey Mouse .. Ah, makes me nostalgic!
    I also totally agree with your argument of good childhood these days our kids are leading. They will remember their childhood with much fondness, I am sure!

    • Roshni

      Yes, I almost forgot the Disney cartoons!!! Sunday mornings were the best!!

  • My childhood days were totally different from what my girls are going through…but that doesnt mean they are not enjoying !!! Its time to accept that the changing times and the ever changing modes of entertainment and gaming.

    Went nostalgic over that para on Doordarshan 🙂

    • Roshni

      So right, Uma! And, I’m sure you strike a good balance with technology and old school fun pretty well!! 🙂

  • I totally agree Roshni. Nice thoughts there. And boy! You brought back some nice memories of childhood holidays (esp the icecream vendor) and DD!

    • Roshni

      ha! I know!! “Kwoooolity icecreeeeeeemm!!!!”

  • Jack

    Roshni,

    Times change, advancements take place and children enjoy whatever is available. I agree that we need to guide them about use of internet and have real life experience also. When today’s children are grown up they would also talk in the same way by looking at their children who will have much more facilities to choose from.

    Take care

    • Roshni

      Thank you, Jack uncle!

  • It’s the nostalgia that makes us believe we had it better. But that’s all it is. A warm fuzzy feeling that tricks us. I think it gets better each generation! You’re right though. Kids are just as happy with a cardboard box, but only if they don’t know about the DS in the next room. Great article.

    • Roshni

      That’s what I meant to say, Josie! Glad it made sense!! :))

  • Courtney

    I totally agree! I grew up with only crayons, and dolls!

    • Roshni

      I only had books and dolls to entertain me…and yet, that was enough!

  • Jas

    I totally agree with you. It is a timeless story as every generation harps over it and curses the new one. But indeed those days were wonderful when we waited for chitrahaar and chitramala and the sunday movie 🙂 thanks for bringing back the memories.

    • Roshni

      Good times!! 🙂

  • this one took me straight to the time I was growing up… sigh!! Life was so uncomplicated, no? Thanks a lot for this one, Roshni!

    • Roshni

      Childhood is a wonderfully uncomplicated time for most of us!! 🙂

  • This is a great blog. I totally agree with you. I think all the time that my kids have no clue how spoiled they are.

    • Roshni

      Thanks, Crystal!!

  • I think I will be one of those old fogies 🙂 Thank you for reminding me that no matter what, childhood is childhood. Like you, I too belong to the Doordarshan era and many times felt and spoke that our childhood was better than today’s generation’s. Your post makes me think, that I am wrong. Sincerely appreciate.

    • Roshni

      It’s wonderful that we can look back at those days and have such wonderful memories of them!

  • I enjoyed this article and do agree that each generation, for the most part, will enjoy their childhood despite the advancements in technology. The imagination of a child is limitless.

    • Roshni

      I agree, Shawn! Children can entertain themselves for hours!

  • A wonderful post, Roshni, that took me down the memory lane!! Agree completely, kids (of all generations) enjoy wherever and howsoever. Today, our kids have Play Stations, Tablets, Wiis… but you go somewhere where they don’t have access to all these gadgets, they’d enjoy themselves by even playing in the mud or just running around!

    • Roshni

      So true, Shilpa! That was exemplified on our recent trip when my nine year old joyfully played in the snow and said that this was the highlight of the whole month for him!! 🙂

  • Your post provoked nostalgia in me :-)..but I agree with you that we cannot compare our childhood with them if we are doing that we then should compare our life to our parent’s as well….Are we willing to live that life??

    • Roshni Aamom

      Thank you for your comment, and I apologize about replying after such a long time! Quite right, that we would probably not want to lead the life our parents had, so why think of asking our kids to do the same!

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