This is a set of stories my father recited to me about his childhood memories literally gave me Goosebumps visualising them.
When you listen to your parents’ childhood stories, you can’t help but notice how things have changed, how the city has changed but moreover how they have changed. One day I was fighting with my old man about how he doesn’t let me go out on trips with my friends. And I said to him, “Just because you guys did not have the luxury of a car or bike and never went afar on exploratory trips, doesn’t mean you don’t let us”. And he smirked and said, who told you I did not go? The difference is, we did not care about how we went or where we went as far as we knew we would be safe.
Ignoring everything else, my mind jammed at the fact that he went on trips and I had to know where when how! So he told me – At the age of 10, my father had a group of friends that consisted of around 12 boys. All little minds who wore shorts and rode bicycles. They would play all week after school until dinner and unlike us, they did not need phones, or computers. The street was their playground.
So on Sundays, this little brat pack would go on one day trips on a bicycle. My dad’s daily pocket money was 10 paisa, and on Sundays he would get 50 paisa. And unlike me, he would save the weeks pocket money so that he could spend it on the weekend when he would go on his trip.
Those days the streets were empty, and Bangalore really felt like a hill station. My dad told me that on every Sunday all his friends would leave at 7 in the morning, peddle up that cycle and take off to Ramnagara, a small town 60 kms from Bangalore. My jaw dropped. How could you cycle so far was my first question. He said those days were different. We did not have time restrictions, we did not care about the 12 o clock sun or the body ache post cycling. All we cared about was the ride…the journey.
I found myself feeling guilty. Just yesterday I had taken a drive to Ramnagara, the famous town where Sholay was shot with my cousins and I had constantly been cribbing about the heat and the road and what not even though we were travelling in an air conditioned car, with all the entertainment I needed on my fingertips.
My father’s money saving strategy would pay off when on a Sunday, before taking off one their road trip, they would parcel Bangalore’s yummiest Pulao, that was priced at 90 paisa per plate. And what a jolly treat, he said that was. They would start at 7 in the morning, pack lunch and ride all the way to the destination. It would be lunchtime when they would reach so first, they would take a nice swim in the reservoir there and have the time of their lives. They would come out and eat the lunch they packed and play again. They made boats out of twigs, and played with stones. No phones, no selfies, no calls. A trip as raw and hard as reality. They would then start to cycle back home and reach the city by evening. “We were blessed to have come into this world where there were no phones, no computers…when people were sweet and helpful and things that we did were allowed cause the world was a safe place” he concluded.