I am a child of the mid 1980’s and early 1990’s. Things were much more serene then. In our summer vacations we just used to go to the ground and get ourselves dirty by playing cricket, football, hopscotch, kho-kho or the Indian favourite gilli-danda. We actually ‘followed’ cartoon shows religiously because they used to be aired only during the vacations! Yes, that era of bland programming of Doordarshan when ‘Fun-Time’ at 11 a.m. was really some fun, when Duck Tales and Tale Spin ruled the roost. Giant Robot was much cooler than Optimus Prime because he could be summoned by a kid with a simple ‘Come on Giant Robot’!
But nowadays, there is a cartoon overload on television. Tom & Jerry, Pink Panther and Scooby-Doo are long forgotten and the new, ‘full of crap’ cartoons have taken over. The only violence that we saw in the cartoon was thrashing of plates and cats and dogs chasing each other in some healthy natural banter. And now we have 10 year old characters 'fighting’ with weapons!
I'm sure we all lived with Mario of the Super Mario Brothers fame to save the pixelated princess and despised to see this again and again!
Eighties and nineties were the days when corporal punishment was existent and practiced in all schools and homes. When I meet my school friends or reminisce about my school days, apart from recalling our teachers whom we had a crush on, we remember how a certain teacher thrashed us or thrashed a friend.
I remember my Art & Craft teacher Mr. Maher thrashing me almost black and blue in the fifth grade; the funny part is neither then nor till now, do I know the reason of the thrashing! Maher sir was a brooding dark fellow over six feet tall with a soft voice. I think God installed his baritone into Archana Puran Singh or Lillette Dubey!
I remember, this one time we were all set in our school bus on way back to our homes and my friend Muzaffar was lame enough to yell “Aye Kaalu” (Yo Blackie!) to Mr. Maher who was passing by. He didn’t intend it to be audible, but then a yell is supremely audible, isn’t it? And then Maher sir entered the bus and we all cornered up into our seats and he smelled the extreme fear that was oozing out of Muzaffar’s face. Muzaffar was, and is, a very fair guy and he had turned red by the time Maher sir had finished thrashing him. After he left, we did not know what to do, whether to laugh our asses out or to console Muzaffar! We settled for gulping down the vision of the battering and telling Muzaffar that “it’s OK’, at least he didn’t call his parents, which would have earned him some more red marks at home, if you know what I mean. But today, we ‘laugh our asses off’ over that incident.
Those were the days when parents too spanked us, when required. I think they raised their hands only to correct us when we were wrong and never to curb us. Today I look at kids, yelling in the malls and black mailing their parents for buying the seventeenth ‘Ben 10’ toy in 3 months and the parents trying to reason with them how they have sixteen at home and how a seventeenth wouldn’t help. And like the previous 16 times, they fail to ‘win the argument’ and buy the toy. At times like these I feel like going and telling them, “Beat that kid, the prick needs some spanking and he’ll shut his mouth and behave!”
I’m not ‘pro-beating-your-kid’. I’m ‘pro-beat-that-kid-when-he-is-unreasonably-demanding’ (I remember Russell Peters's stand-up comedy act of Beating Your Children as I write this)
These are the two things that I’ve noticed. I think you value things when they are scarce. That’s why we loved cartoons and I still go gaga over Tom and Jerry watching it for the 649th time and still laugh. That’s why my generation knows the value of money and is not as materialistic as the current generation kids who are growing up. That’s why I still kept my He-Man (click & enjoy the opening theme) action figure for over 2 decades, and parted only when it broke and could not be displayed upright in the glass cabinet. We love our parents for beating us at the right time and that’s why we are reasonable and not demanding and will never be demanding with our peers, friends, families, spouses and children. We love our teachers for being imperfect and yet showing us the way towards excellence.
There was something magical about growing up in the eighties and the nineties.