I often recall my footloose and fancy free childhood times when we playmates played in gay abandon. Those Times when life was replete with fun, games and crazy activities followed by frenzied study time. Those times when we kicked up a ball raising a sand storm, fell from our rented cycles and bruised our knees, dirtied our clothes, drenched in the rain, splashed the water puddles, floated paper boats or played in the hot sun without worrying about sunburns.
Such childhood memories with my playmates were made in different areas of Bangalore but most of them were made at Vijayanagar. Those unerasable memories often surfs up at different times in bits and pieces. I am stringing some of them together here cause “Those were the best days of my life" with my friends.
Those were times when we found joy in the smallest of things. Happiness filled the air and that was an age of innocence. Money was scarce but happiness abundant. A time that seems like (actually is) a bygone era.
The joy of buying an i-pad or iphone like now was not known then, but the joy was in keeping the navilugari( peacock feather) amongst pages of books. The idea would start with one person and then like a Domino effect spread amongst others. Some friend would then tell keeping the feather amongst pages of the book, it would multiply ( mari hakkodu) meaning giving birth to a new ones. Nobody bothered to verify the fact, everybody trusted the friends implicitly. Similarly, we would place rose petals, scented papers like the facewipes etc.( remember Indian airlines wet face wipes) amongst the pages of the books. We would sometimes exchange all these things along with stamps and coins and feel so happy.
Another friend would say, pencil shavings when ground with perfume would make a scent rubber(eraser). Like a mexican wave, the very next day, the whole class would start collecting the pencil shavings in their pencil boxes. Vigorously grinding the pencil shavings with scent made no rubber but the class room would be tidy and clean devoid of pencil shavings on the ground.
Another day, another friend would come up with something new. This tim e it was a peepal leaf. She would say a veined peepal leaf would bring good luck. The next day, all of us would march to the playground behind our house, where there was a huge peepal tree. We would collect the heart shaped leaves and distribute it amongst our friends. Each one of us would immerse it in water for 10-15 days. After 15days, the dermis (green layer of the leaf) would be rubbed of with fingers leaving behind a network of veins. We would then dry it and keep it amongst the pages of books. The pleasure was in showing off the uncut veined naked leaf to our friends and awaiting our luck.
The above pic taken at Dakshinchitra. They make traditional paintings on these veined leaves
Then to the funtimes on road,
Soon after we were back from school, we changed our dress, finished our school work and then I and friend S along with other friends surfed up like bubbles on the road. We would gather to play many games. In each season the games would be different. Though we had the Gandhi maidan (now floodlit cricket and soccer ground) next road. We would play only on the road. The traffic was less those days.
Lagori(7 stones), kalla police(chor-police), kho-kho, tennikoit, kunte bille(hopscotch) badminton, throwball, cricket there was not a game we did not play. Cries of ‘Jhoot’(catch me),'Love all', ‘time please’, kho( as in kho kho) would rent the air. But ‘I spy’ took the cake. Since we played on roads, most of us would hide on the adjacent main roads and walk till the 9th main road, some of us would even do our own things like leisurely buy ourselves a piece of honeycake/dilkush/ kismi toffeebar in the Belur iyengars bakery( we would pay him later), relish them and slowly walk back and wait to see from the corner of the 5th mainroad if anybody has been caught out. We never surfaced until a person was caught out. Most often, many of us never got a chance to count or got out. Then the person who counts would get angry, throw a fit and we would have an endless fight that is till an elder would intervene to sort things out and declare nobody should hide beyond the 5th main road.
During ganesha habba( Ganesh chaturthi), we would hop from house to house go around to see the ganeshji asking "Ganesha ittidira?"( meaning have you installed Ganeshji in your house). If ever, we got a chance, we would even sing songs on stage at the ganesh pandals and during Karnataka Rajyotsava.
We would stage plays, dance to songs like "hosili juttu helps her mother" and invite people in our neighbourhood to watch us.
We would go to Kannika parameshwari temple exactly when the satya narayana katha ends. Not for praying, You know why?
Just for the ghee laden ksheera prasadam. Similarly, we would go to Malthi aunty’s house not to enquire her welfare but for thambittu ( a delicious rice dumpling made with jaggery and elaichi).
Sitting below the gooseberry tree and exchanging tinkles, ACKs, Enid blytons, tintins was another of our past time.
All these fun and games ended with the advent of TV in most homes and then it was time for humlog, buniyaad, Quiz time, yeh jo hai zindagi and slowly life changed thereafter and I made different set of beautiful memories. I am still making good memories with my current set of friends but “Those were the best days of my life”.
P.S: I am still in touch with my friend S whom i mentioned in this post(she is not on FB). Our friendship is 33 years old. I don't pick up phone and talk to her daily or even weekly, sometimes not even monthly. But everytime i catch up with her it is as though i have spoken to her just yesterday.