‘When I was a kid…’ Chronicles

*yawn* Ooops, sorry! I just read my own post below and fell asleep. So watch out!


When we breeze through life these days, don’t we at times think life was much simpler when we were kids? As if the entire world got complicated over time while we have still remained the same? All the speed around us, the mad rush to go nowhere, the less times spent smiling, more times spent frowning and then worrying about wrinkles on our face?

But deep down we all know that it’s not only the world that changed and became complicated. We did too. We grew up. Oh, what a mistake!

Childhood was a simpler time. The biggest worry was the Half-Yearly exams (the Quarterlies were light and the Annual exams were a cakewalk) and the hardest time of the week was a Sunday evening – because that’s when you realize you need your white canvas shoes to be white by Monday morning, the white shoe polish bottle is empty, the shops are all closed and there can’t be a last ditch attempt at whiteness because you used up you last bit of white chalk. Not to mention the admonishing you get from your parents for your exemplary planning and memory when it comes to school activities. And then there were the little punishments for not using black ribbon on your plaits on a Tuesday and forgetting your Hindi homework book at home (well, its homework! so I left it at home! duh!). Oh, and those times when you were the class monitor and had to write the names of the talkative kids on the blackboard? Used to feel like someone made us the President of the USA and the entire world (which had all of 58 noisy kids) was at our mercy.

Weekends were completely spent on the street, playing with the other neighborhood kids and all games were uni-sex – including gilli-danda, seven stones, cricket (coconut tree branch bats, rubber ball, coconut tree sticks as stumps and girl batsmen get runners and girl fielders don’t have to field. Oh, the boundary for a four was a dustbin), bambaram (top, in english) and the all famous, hide-and-seek. Thanks to living in office quarters, one had an entire block on flats to hide at, jump out of and basically get lost in. The worst that could happen is you end up seeking 5 times in a row because of some kid or the other who always hid well and came out last; not very surprising given there were around 10 hiding in various nooks and crannies of the building. Those were games. Not Minesweeper or Age of Empires or Solitaire (that’s my entire knowledge of computer games right there!).

Sleeping in on a weekend was never an option then. Not because our parents said no, just because it was more fun getting up early and getting straight into playing without wasting time. Saturday mornings found us knocking at our Christian neighbor’s house at 6:30 AM asking permission to pluck flowers from their huge Pavazha Malli tree – it was fact among us kids that Christians dont use pavazha malli for their prayers and so it was their god-given duty to let us pesky kids shake their tree out of its roots trying to make the flowers fall. Armed with huge steel vessels, the little army of 8 yr olds used to run amock in that little garden, vying with one another for picking the most flowers. And next? Sit in front of one of our houses, needle and thread in hand, and string those little flowers back to back. All this when our respective fathers were still getting ready to go to office, so that we can keep the garlands ready by the time they turn up at their respective puja rooms to do the morning puja. We had timetables to follow, mind you!

Breakfasts, TV and lunch later, we all get chucked out of the house by our moms who want an undisturbed siesta. You’d think we’d be bored out of our wits, sitting out on a hot afternoon, not able to run around and not able to watch TV. But no. This was the perfect time to raid mango trees. More precisely, steal mangoes from the mango trees in every single house in the entire street. My own house was neglected because no human being could eat those mangoes raw – they were sour beyond normal levels and we ended up winking at each other involuntarily when the eyes twitch due to all the sourness. In a gang of 10, we used to take turns to disturb our moms once to beg for some chilli-salt mixture to go with the mangoes. I’ve had umpteen raw mangoes since, but not one of them tasted as good as those we used to steal, wash in the moss-lined overhead tanks, break open on the granite washing stone (8yr olds cant be trusted with knives, you see) and eat it right there, in the sweltering heat of a summer afternoon, under the shade of a huge mango tree. Life felt truly blessed for some strange reason.

So why am I suddenly all nostalgic about my childhood and submitting you to this endless monologue? Trust me when I say this, I do not know. Last night, all these memories just flooded my tired brain (remember the elf with the hammer?) and I so longed to go back to those streets one last time and see my 8 yr old self, playing marbles (goli gundu!) on the street, concentrating real hard on hitting my purple marble into the little goal-hole or see me hiding from the seeker behind the rundown Lambretta in the space beneath the staircase and come out covered with cobwebs and whitewash, sheepishly grinning on being caught, wondering how much more dumber I could be to hide in such an obvious place or swinging on a swing made with rubber tyres strung together, hanging from the branch of a neem tree.

Like they say, inside all of us there is still a child refusing to grow up. But hey, the day that child decides to grow up is the first day of the beginning of your end. So hold on to those childhood memories and if you’re really lucky, you can live it again through your own kids.


And if I don’t post tomorrow,

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, dear readers! Here’s to this great country, her past, her present and her glowing future. May we all make our country proud in our own little ways and cherish this independence which we more often than not, take for granted.

31 thoughts on “‘When I was a kid…’ Chronicles

  1. My my, that is long… but too late! I posted it! And yes, this is my new habit – commenting on my own posts. And no, I will not get a life, thank you for asking.


  2. wow! made me nostalgic! 🙂 life is always beautiful and simple from the eyes of a child! how i wish we could all remain children in mind and heart! the world would be a much better place to live in then…:-)

    and, here’s wishing you a happy independence day too (in advance)! yay to India! 🙂


  3. Hey Priya,

    I could relate to every word typed in this post. Afternoons were never boring for me. Even on a hot afternoon, you would find me pedalling away to glory from one sector to another on the pavement (not on the road) tringing cycle bells shooing away ppl walking on it…
    Recall those pencil boxes we used to carry loaded with all colored pens? Reynolds red, blue, Hero pen, Nataraj pencil eraser, camelin inkpen eraser, sharpener and a camelin ruler, ofcourse a pen pencil? I would give special care to my note books more than text books. Drawing lines after every sum in the maths note book. Underlining every title only with the red pen and on and on and on….

    Oops, looks like am writing a post for the post…hehehhe, life was fun indeed!


  4. I too revel in childhood memories, but not in the way you do. I always wanted to be grown up, adult, and mature.

    I don’t “hold on” to those memories. And I don’t believe that the child in us decides to grow up, it is the beginning of our end.

    I find these childhood memory fantasies to be a sort of ‘escapism’ from the reality of this world. An escape from the brutality, the evilness, of it all. Such an escape is not going to help any of us. I’m not saying your post describes such an escapist mindset. I’ve seen people who’re forever living in nostalgia, childhood memories, and so on, while refusing to proactively change their present life circumstances. And I find that to be a tragedy.

    So there. I disagree with almost everything you’ve said. But I must say, you’ve said it very entertainingly!


  5. Solitaire, Minesweeper and Age of Empires? Hahahaa… Priya needs some lessons in gaming. Psssst… I never played marbles when I was young, I played computer games (not any of those three!)… don’t tell anyone…


  6. no polish? no chalk? the blackboard duster in class thank you very much! of course u needed to get their in time. full demand no? especially on a monday morning.

    and there’s nothing funner than plucking your own lunch from the neighbour’s garden. my house only had guava trees but i liked mangoes better. oh and i would cut it up and put uppu khaara and sugar for some reason. then just to gross everyone out some water [to get more yummy juice] heeeeeee. one time in my aunt’s house i had put sambhar powder instead of chilly powder. it still tasted fabulous. but we all had tummy aches the next day.
    fun times.


  7. Do more long posts? Pleasepleaseplease? Especially childhood stuff. I’d forgotten all about the white chalk, and who could forget the ribbons? White, though, in our case. I used to go through ribbons the way most children went through erasers. I used to hate tying my hair up with a ribbon, most uncomfortable. So I would use a white scrunchie and stuff the ribbon into my pocket. Except during the morning assemblies. I would whip it out then, to pass inspection. 😉
    I never played games of that sort. I spent my holidays reading.

    And I passed on the Summer Tag to you before Fleiger did. Remember?


  8. Priya Iyer – yep, the world would also be a more fun-ner place to live in! 🙂

    Krish Ashok – 🙂 much flattered. but why ‘kutty’ novel? I was thinking in terms of the length of Tolstoy’s War and Peace? 😉

    Fleiger – Ah, the famous tag passed on to me by the Princess long long ago.. to think I’d successfully evaded it till now 😉


  9. Manoj – iyo! enna kodumai idhu saravanan? 😉

    Aparna – Oh yeah, how could I forget my BSA SLR cycle (which kept making a ttrrr sound coz the brake rubber used to touch the rim of the tyre!) and those umpteen pencil boxes I used to stuff into my bag! simpler times..

    Mahendra – aren’t ‘memory’ and ‘fantasy’ oxymorons at some level? I mean, we didnt imagine our childhood, we lived it! so I dont see how it can be called ‘escapism’! and when this life is described by words like ‘brutal’ and ‘evil’, we sometimes need a child in us to take pleasure in the simpler things once in a while so we can go ahead and face the brutality with all we have, becoz we know what life can be made if only we tried!


  10. Prashanth – yeah yeah, I need lessons in gaming.. btw, I play only Solitaire..Age is played by my bro and Krish Ashok plays Minesweeper 😉

    Pri – Much welcomings to the blog 🙂 oh yeah, I used the duster too at times..but then you had to contend with the 50 other classmates who need the whiteness too! 😦 and thanks for grossing me out with that water addition.. seriously? but u know what? u shd try rasam podi next time.. its tangier than sambhar powder 😉

    Princess – oh yea, I used to do that too.. ribbons were so un-cool, no? 😉 and yes, I do remember the tag.. cant we just take this post as the response to the tag pls? pretty pls?


  11. Hey – this is not long! If it was something I had written, I probably would have had a “more …” link at the end there ;). And so the comment at the beginning would be a zzzzz…. rather than just a yawn.

    Most of us do think life was simpler in the past. Nowadays, my wife and I think – “It used to so simple when we didn’t have any kids”. But then a few years ago, I was thinking – “Gee, it used to be so simple and free when I was all by myself and not married” ;). Of course, I am sure she was thinking the same too then.


  12. u know i agree with krishashok…write a book…i ll book the first print….

    made me lol when i read about the shoe polish thing!!! so true..and the white chalk even. had to stand under the sun saluting everybody coz i hadnt polished em one day 😀

    u rock!!


  13. Ah! The thotprocessor cleverly caught my oxymoron!

    You are right, remove the word ‘fantasies’. And no, I should’ve clarified that I don’t find ALL such childhood reminiscences (I hope there’s no moron there) to be escapism. It’s just that I vented out my frustration about the kind of people who do not live or act in their present and continue to live in their nostalgic memories of innocence.

    Do we need the child in us to appreciate the simpler things in life? I’m not so sure. All the ‘simple’ things in life we find appreciable as adults are usually not appreciated by children. My 8-month old daughter finds the same level of happiness in plucking a flower off a tree and pulling a shoe-lace off a shoe. It is as adults that we consider the beauty of a flower as one of the simpler things in life, we forget about the shoelaces. Did life really feel blessed when you ate stolen mangoes? Or does it feel blessed when you think about it now? I don’t know, I cannot answer for you – but I suspect most adults have these feelings when they think about their childhood, they didn’t have them when they were children.

    I apologize if this seems off topic, but the contra-post-dictory comment stemmed from two statements that jarred in my mind: “we grew up, oh, what a mistake”, and “the day the child decides to grow up, it’s the first day of the beginning of the end”. I still vehemently disagree with both.

    Again, apologies. I like your style of writing, and also enjoyed the innocence and beauty of the way you are reminiscing about it. But I liked it as an adult, not a child. 🙂


  14. I *do not* play minesweeper. I played minesweeper on Win 3.1 in 1997. I now play only physical board games, such as Monopoly and Scrabble. I also occasionally enjoy Snakes and Ladders, only because I have this ridiculously funny board where the snakes are so fat that one cant make out which square their head lies in.


  15. Arun K – Oh yeah, we’ve all been thru that ‘Life was better before I got hitched’ story, haven’t we! 🙂 But one should remember what the Bard said about the 7 stages of life 😉

    Sharanyan – Hallo, naa olunga irukardhu you no likings? chumma kedantha sanga oodhi keduthaa maadhiri 😉

    Mahendra – Hmmm.. I agree with some parts of your comment.. but when I said we need a child in us to enjoy the simpler things, what I meant was in a situation of conflict or stress, only a child can see the fun in it. I, for one, used to enjoy sharpening my pencil to see those rolls of wood fall down the sharpener even when I had an exam to sit for the next day 🙂 that’s what I meant.. and you’re right, I feel blessed now that I had those times.. back then, it wouldn’t even have struck me that there would be a time when I cannot do this anymore, so let me enjoy it now.. hey, dont apologize n all, we’re all entitled to our opinions.. and you didtn say anything wrong, did you.. just because one reads me doesnt mean one has to agree with it! I’m glad you found this post worthy enough of an argument and counter argument 🙂


  16. Krish Ashok – sorry, too late.. I already told everyone you play Minesweeper. btw, me loves Scrabble. Although, one more time I bug the spouse to play with me, me thinks the board will be defenestrated 😉

    Princess – 🙂 I did read your latest post about Brandy. It was too personal, so I didn’t leave a comment (also because I believe when you dont have words to convey something, its best left unsaid).


  17. Hey Priya,

    Have been following your blogs for quite a while.
    Finally decided to jump into the ocean of blogging.

    This is a real deja-vu stuff…

    Hmmm…u know coincidently i was listening to “Azhagu kutty chellam” song from “Satham podathey”…

    lovely song where a dad signgs about a new born baby…

    kalakkitteenga ponga….

    Keep up the good work.
    I like ur writings…


  18. Are you aware of Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis? There are several books based on it, such as “I’m OK, You’r OK”, “Games People Play”, and so on. It talks about a Parent, Adult, and Child in each and every person irrespective of age, and how they function with each other and with others.

    It is a fascinating science. Well, why I write about this is that I’ve always had a weak Child. In psychological terms, they call it a ‘repressed child’, and that I think is the reason for my comments and our conversation!

    They advise me to “let go” of my Child, and I think that’s what I need to learn!

    Thanks for the dialogue. I appreciate your taking the time to respond…


  19. Sarath – 🙂 welcome to the blog, glad you decided to walk out of the closet 😉

    Mahendra – wow, I should ask my shrink about all these things.. I think my problem is I have too many children inside me haggling over stuff all the time 😉

    Fleiger – You know, they should officially ban the word ‘tag’. :-\

    Krish Ashok – er..Facebook? I used to play Scrabble on Yahoo Games.. it was good, maybe I should start again.. or maybe not, seeing how busy my work keeps me 😦


  20. Thanks Priya for welcoming me.

    Ur blog also made me to thiS…

    “When we are kids, we rush to grow up;
    When we are grown ups, we long for the kids life”

    Enna panrathu…hmmmmmmmm…


  21. Hey also try to visit me once in a while when u can…
    Am not yet here in full flow…But will try to stay alive as much as possible with more blogs n comments…


  22. ayyo too much……

    was lost in transendental pantheonism! I could relate to almost every sentence in it except the bambaram, as my dad never got me one and ribbons as guys are allowed to do that only wen they are studying away from home!

    But office quarters, hide n seek, mangoes, white shoes, flowers…. Are you a distant cousin?


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