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"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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28 February 2005

Sundays in the 1980s

Bleargh. It's Sunday, my only day off and I'm so bored. The problem with Sundays is that they're so lazy-making, that you don't feel like doing anything, even if it is your only free day. And all your friends are occupied--with boyfriends, or with family shit--that you have no one to hang out with. My own family has gone out on this social whirl of birthday lunches and socialite-type dinners, and me? I'm sitting at home trying to figure out how to write a Statement Of Purpose and polish up some writing samples before my hectic weekday routine starts again. (Did I also mention I hate boys? That entire sex is sooooooooooo complicated, not really easy to understand like mine. (Ya, ya, don't say it) And I'm getting those little boyfriend withdrawal symptoms that happen every now and then, even though I'm single and I'm happy and all that, it wouldn't hurt to have someone to be not-so-single and happier with, no? Peh, this time last year, I was going to move out of my house in two days and K and I were still together. Sigh. Back then at least I had some sort of entertainment on a Sunday. Bored, bored, BORED!!!!)

Sundays used to be a family thing for my household as well. When I was really, really young, the parents used to take me to India Gate on Sundays. This must be one of my earliest Sunday memories, running around in India Gate, with a balloon that was almost as big as me, holding it v-e-r-y carefully, in case it burst and made a loud noise, which I hated. There were other kids as well, noisy little boys who took pleasure in bursting their balloons, but I stuck to myself and my own balloon, thank you very much. Sometimes, they'd buy me a helium balloon, which I loved, because, oh my, they stayed up by themselves! Without tossing or anything! And my mother would tie the string to my wrist and it would tug at it, just like something very alive.

India Gate wasn't just a Sunday thing though. We lived quite close by, on Curzon Road, before it was called Kasturba Gandhi Marg (which I always thought was a pity, because 'Curzon Road' is so much more evocative that KG Marg could ever be, don't you think?) and some evenings, my mother and I would set out for India Gate for a walk, and I'd watch the hoopoes. (I had quite a thing for birds back then. I am told my first ever word was 'pitta', the Telegu for 'bird'. Wierd) This one time, we watched a monkey man make his monkey do all sorts of tricks and kids were clustering around wanting to pet it, and they did. I hung back a little, being a shy child, and my mother practically forced me to go up and pet the monkey (Oh, the Google searches that are going to lead to this entry!) Anyway, so I took a tentative swipe at the monkey, which promptly turned around and scratched me. Scarred for life, I tell you, I still can't pass a monkey on the road without breaking out into a cold sweat.

You know, thinking back, I'm amazed at the ways I found to amuse myself as a child. Being an only child and all, I never had a host of siblings to play with (because that's what brothers and sisters are for, y'all, for the sole purpose of your entertainment). So I'd pretend the little water pumps outside my apartment complex were horses, and sit there for hours, talking to them and egging them on.

When the 1984 riots broke out, my parents went to see whether they could help and left me with some neighbours. I am told that I wept that entire day, going, "Indira Gandhi died," in piteous tones to the neighbours, who gave me Glucose biscuits. Funnily enough, when Rajiv Gandhi was killed, I didn't feel the same pity, though I was on a train to Hyderbad with my grandmother and we got held up for hours. I got to Hyderabad and took gruesome pleasure in going through the India Today which published pictures of people with their legs cut off, their bodies a mangled mess. Poor old sod.

The 80s really did have quite a few exciting things happening, that the 90s and the whatever we're in now (the 2000s? What do you call this era?) didn't have. Ooh, colour television. One of my neighbours in Curzon Road had a biggish colour TV set and that was when the Asiad games were happening. I used to go every day, just to watch the beautiful logos, with people doing gymnastics and all in colour! How cool! Speaking of television, that used to be another Sunday ritual. Waking up really early in the morning and watching Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on DD. Not even DD Metro, which hadn't been invented yet. Just plain old Doordarshan, way back when it was the ruling channel. I loved the advertisements even, the boy who played really hard and got hurt and his mother put Dettol on his wounds, the brother and sister who drank milk and got milk mustaches and said happily, "I'm a Complan boy! I'm a Complan girl!" and oh yeah, "Go GI Joe!" though I think that ad only came in with Star TV. I was terrified of the Onida ad though, because, really, that devil looked ominous. Neighbours envy, my foot, he was going to come and get me. I was also really, really scared of the Liril ad, because I couldn't swim then and I thought that girl frolicking away in the waterfall was looking at me with an evil glint in her eye, saying "Ha-ha! I'm going to make you swim, whether you like it or not! And you're going to use my soap!" (Incidentally, that Liril girl? She drowned. Ironic, eh?)

On Sundays my parents always woke up really late and had coffee in bed with the Sunday supplements strewn all around them. I had been up for hours, so at this point I was very hyperactive and very whiny because dammit, they were supposed to do something exciting! With me! Ooh, we should go to the zoo!

And after a lot of eye-rolling and complaining, they finally got their asses out of bed, stopped looking at the hideously boring newspapers and made lunch. After which they slept. (I used a pity card, whcih always worked. Looking at them sadly, I'd say, "Now if you had another kid, I'd have someone to play with. I'm all alone." Deep sigh. Usually, it worked like a charm) After the long boring Sunday nap, finally, they'd take me somewhere, sometimes if I was lucky, we'd tie up with the one and only friend of my parents who had a kid, who was thankfully, my age. And we'd watch Jungle Book, again and again and again, or draw or play with my stuffed animals, depending on whose house we were at.

I think Sunday naps are the reason I learned to read in the first place. My mom used to read to me before, trying to make me eat, showing me pictures and going, "Ooh, what's happening here? (Open your mouth) Is that a pig? (Chew your food) and what's the pig doing?" I got bored of her reading to me, because she read really slowly, and when she was napping, then I had nothing to do. So I began to read, pretty early too, and then Saturdays were library days, and on Sunday, we'd go to the pavement bookstalls in Daryagunj and pick up piles and piles of books and Amar Chitra Katha comics. Sometimes, we'd take a tonga back home, and I'd always run into the house for an apple or something to feed the horse with.

Right, enough procrastination (Thief of time and all that). I am reminded that I can't curl up in bed with a book anymore and that I do have work to do. This being an adult thing sucks, big time.


  1. work on a Sunday?...yes!..that is the truth.
    Here i am sitting in my office too...trying hard to work or not to work(which ever is easier to do)??
    well, this is my weekend on the stupid newsdesk. and nothing much is happening this side of the world!... would love for something to happen( bad thought!) so that the rest of the crew can be summoned into office too..why only me working on a Sunday?
    (though I get a compensatory day off later during the week!)
    but ..tell me.....who invented WORK??
    and ...again..what is the "Purpose of Statement" on a Sunday.
    but a really lazy Sunday post from eM is worth it.

    very few Delhi kids (now adults!) I KNOW went to Daryaganj pavement bookshops....but Daryaganj has become pretty bad now!
    Anon1 or,eN.

  2. Ah think ah'm gittin' hooked to yer blog missy, wat wid checking it dailly for new postses. :-)

    N wid good reason too. Nice one, yet again.

  3. if this is what boredom does to you.. please get bored more often.And we get to read some really good posts.
    New things i/we learnt from your post:
    pitta =bird
    curzon road=KGMarg
    male=complicated(not true @ all)
    men= entertainment!!!!!!!!
    thank you bheri much

  4. encee: Work on a sunday is just barbaric... leave! Go home!

    Manish: Thank you, thank you :) I love it when I can furthur addiction in any way. Cigarette?

    Nilanjan: Men definitely equal complicated, but as for entertainment, hmmm... I'll leave you to be the judge of that.

    Thanks for stopping by, y'all. (btw, y'all is fast becoming my new favourite word!)And what do you guys think of this new pop-up window?

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Hey, a trip down memory lane, huh, eM? Very nice post, made me remember my childhood, which was way before my youth, which I am beginning to forget about at this age. :((

    I remember those Mickey and Donald shows. I was so fascinated with them that I didn't want to lose any memories about them. Not having a VCR at home, I decided to write the description of every episode in a notebook, so that I could read it later. I think I did that for 4-5 epidosed before deciding it was better to forget than to write on Sundays.

    Didn't you grow up with those Soviet literature books? I used to love them. What with the Ivan Ivanovics and Sashas and Alyoshas. And the Amar Chitra Kathas were definitely a big part of my childhood. I still have some 80 odd of those at home. A bound set of 8 or 10 of those used to be a birthday gift for me and my sister, when we were really young.

    Last, but not goddamned least, I know what pleasure it is to grow up without siblings or friends. I mean I do have a sister who was around, but I was too weird for her to hang around with, not to mention that she didn't want to acknowledge my existence during her teens, it being so uncool and all. Anyway, that's when I picked up tennis, by starting to hit a ball against the wall with not a racket but an old plank. I got pretty good at my adapted game and eventually moved on to holding grand slam tournaments in which I used to play against the greats of those times (Lendl, Becker, Edberg). Most of the times I cheated to reach the finals, but sometimes the possibilities of good shots overcame the desire to win, and a couple of grand slam finals didn't have me in them. I was weird, man. Jeez. :))

    Good stuff to write about, your childhood. Isn't it?

    SOP, huh? Planning to go for further studies?


  7. Hi eM! Your post reminded me of my childhood! Lemme know if you need more info on writing an SOP- websites and stuff. I just one recently you see. However,I am sure you know about how to write one ,better than me. You are so good writing already!

  8. Anurag: Ooh, such a lovely long comment. And I can't believe I forgot about all that Soviet literature I used to read! I had this one book called Rat-a-tat-tat and it was filled with Mishas and Sashas and Ivans! Such fun! And ooh, those little comrade thingies they belonged to, I always wanted to do that :) But I never was a sporty person, unfortunately, so even inventing Grand Slam tournaments was just too much out of my league.

    Sunrayz: I would love some help with my SOP having had worked on it all day and only having 250 words to my credit. Writer's block.. aargh! But I'm glad you guys identified with this post, coz I had such fun writing it.

  9. Hey em! :) That was a wonderful trip down memory lane (are we getting old, as we wistfully ponder about the joys of watching DD Metro on Sundays!)
    Thanks for coming by my Blog and I shall lurk around here too... Like they say what you do onto others... :)

  10. Hey ! Great post... I've been lost in your posts for a while now, can't remember how I landed up here.

    I had a huge collection of Mishas and all that... even had a book of fairy tales, 1001 of em, each with an Ivan as the hero (I think, coz thats the only name I remember !).

    Since Soups beat me to the lurking, I shall... just hang about. Posturingly ;)

  11. primalsoup: We're never going to grow old, babe! But thanks for stopping by, and don't just lurk, comment! I love comments! :)

    Vignesh: Ditto on the comments! I had soviet fairy tales too, full of Baba Yagas

    Avinash: Thank you, thank you!

  12. 24 more comments to beat Primalsoup's record of 36 comments...!

  13. yeah yeah.....kiev used to be my dream place as a kid........with all the books on ukrainian folk tales that i had

    and yeah....that makes it just 23 to go....go woman

  14. em, your blog is addictive..real through all the archives. Not only do you write very well, you are unafraid of sharing your feelings with the world, am not sure too many can do that.

    Wish you great times ahead,

  15. I took a little walk into the past with your post.
    Those Doordarshan days were so less complicated, I never felt being short of choices.

    Now even after having so many choices available, life is more confused & complicated.

    :)) this post did put a smile on my face. Thanks!


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