Mamma Mia, growing up in the 80s

When I think back of growing up in the 80s, oh it feels nice. It was threshold, cross-over and iconoclastic. There are few things that can match growing up in the 80s.

What a zing. Thanks to the 80s, the “child within” is not only alive and kicking, but sometimes neatly elbows out the adult outside. When the culture of the 80s hits you, you will always find a whole ten years to call your own. Your own piece o' real estate on the date line.

Movies and TV

We got the color TVs. I remember we got our first color TV for the FIFA world cup. I can imagine others got theirs for similar motivations - Asiad, Indira Gandhi, Nafisa Ali in "La-la-la" Liril. Who knows? We upgraded from a black and white box that had a dial-like sailor's thing for controls and I think (am not sure) had a wooden shutter? We rented VCRs and video cassettes to watch watershed movies of the year. Probably "starring" Mithun and Padmini Kohlapure. Till Mr India came and restored our faith. My dad took me to watch "Nagina" in the theatres and Sridevi was hot property. Nagina told the riveting tale of a snake-woman (both snake and woman but not at the same time) trapped by a snake charmer with a chronic tonsillitis problem. I watched that movie in Lucknow in one of the "noted" theatres at that time. Even with zero recollection, I can safely say it was either called Mayfair, Regal or Novelty. What other names were there?! Ya, Rivoli.

Back to the Future and the DeLorean. A failed car. A fantastic movie. Michael J Fox’s skateboard-ing and Christopher Lloyd’s every-thing. Its as clear as day. “Where we are going, we don’t need roads.”

TV had Chitrahaar first, and then Chitrahaar twice and then Chitrahaar-Chitrahaar-Rangoli. We complained about ads taking away song-time. And yet we watched those ads with blithe pleasure. We knew the days of old songs and new songs. I say this wistfully at a time when a collective conscience today just zombies through the million movie promos playing all day on TV.

Other white goods

Videocon’s semi-automatic washing machine. In true Henry Ford style, you could have it in any color you wanted, as long as it was green. It was semi-automatic. I can tell you what that means. Five times change water use bucket lift it wring clothes like crazy keep switching them between plastic depression A and B oh hell today its Mum’s washing day something’s gotta give. Old genie granted mom three wishes, one got taken by semi-automatic. She has a brand new one though. Twinkle in her eye.

Some of my friends had that ATARI video game, and it took them fifteen minutes to get to “All Systems Go”. Veritable “Houston we have a problem” waiting to happen. Wires, hitherto hangin’ loose, would rear heads from ugly corners behind the TV. Then be randomly put into little ports behind the TV till the color of the screen became blue/green/chik-chik-khirr. Depends on your blue screen of death. Then the Super Mario with its ping-pong ball sound effects. Whatever that guy did, he signed it off with a ping-pong sound from hell. Jump. Eat. Hop. Double hop. Ping. Pong. Ping. Pong. What’s the deal?

Print Media

They had magazines called Showtime, Stardust, Cine Blitz and Movie then (only Stardust exists these days perhaps in the same form?). To my credit, I only read those when going from place A to place B on train. And then, I memorized them – I did – I mugged them up. So I could terrorize my friends later on in life. It is not with false concern that they wonder how, oh how, I knew Kamal Sadanah's social security number.

I also read this youth magazine called Target. It had one page of funny cartoons by Ajit, among other things. Great stuff. Amar Chitra Katha and Indrajaal comics were delivered by Newspaper-Man (at great peril to life and limb, courtesy my dog) every week. My beats per minute go up when I see Amar Chitra Katha. I have never seen a new Indrajaal in stores; swimming images of Phantom, Diana, Bahadur, Bela, Kerry Drake, Mandrake, Narda call out. Someday, perhaps.

So what is a great value proposition?
Your newspaper man delivering comic books every Sunday. Crisp, ink-meets-paper smell of freshly baked comic. Wow.


80s music, 80s music, 80s music. What can I say? We were there!!!! I heard Baltimora's Tarzan Boy and that sealed it. It was love at first aural. I must have been six. My brother would record 40 songs on a single cassette and we would listen to the whole reel over and over again. Some songs we could n't wait for the reel to get over, so we would rewind, listen raptly, rewind, listen raptly. You get the picture. My brother even had songs such as "Eat it" and "Girls just-a wanna have lunch", a foodie's take on these two infinitely popular songs back then in the Golden 80s. There was of course Karma Chameleon and Brother Louise. Both ripped off into Hindi songs, needless to say. 80s brought alive din-chak, din-chak, din-chak. Hallelujah Synthesizers. Everything was just so freakin "groovy". I will never have an identity crisis in my life, I got the 80s to groove to.

On a lonely rainy day, when there was just me and my radio. And to the beat of the music, I was generally being loopy. My belief is radio is to culture what 80s are to the radio. Extraordinarily, made for each other. At that very instant, the heavens bounty welded into this radio machine. It played "Take on me" by A-ha. I heard it after nearly 10 years on the radio. And what a subtext it had. It was vivid, but certain. In my mind, I choreographed my life's music video to the tune of "Take on me" that day.

Kitschy poetry – a tribute to the 1980s

The 80s to me - a ten-year combustion
Sizzling, sparking and scorching this chemical reaction
Inane lyrics, bad hair, We-are-the-world, WHAM
This was the magic age, the original Kazam
Electronic disco came, changed everything
Brings us back to the 80s zing
Back to the Future's Johnny B Goode
For the gang, all this well understood
The time that gave us David Bowie, Sixteen Candles and Faith, the song
Billy Idol and U2 and Nazia Hassan, it just cant go wrong
Living in the 80s legitimizes my bad poetry
I was listening to “Mickey” in 1983
We stand all in a row, may think apart
The roots unmistakable, 1980s in our heart

Way back in the 80s, people walked like Egyptians. Tough act to follow.


manoj said...

great read..I grew up in the 90s but with a lot of 80s influence. i can relate to almost every episode,tune,gadget or lyrics you was a pleasure jaunt down memory lane that i traversed not so long ago...keep blogging

Syed said...

Ha Ha. Forever 80's. Someday i'll write my own account of the stuff we had back then. till then check out : or for some nostalgic moments

Abhilasha said...

Hey, I asked you for one post and I see that you have penned a whole series of "goodies"...
I grew up in the 80s alright, and can identify with most things that you mention. Just that the TV was there before the age that I can recollect from so we must have bought it for the Asiad.
Also, what on earth are Indrajaal comics...Was Mandrake the Magician an Indrajaal comic?
My personal TV favourites from that decade (barring Chitrahaar) are Kachchi Dhoop and Yeh Joh Hai Zindagi...I don't remember latter too well except that I saw it only because Swaroop Sampat was fascinatingly pretty....

Anonymous said...

Fantastic, yet again. Enjoyed it to the "D". Actually, I went back into my childhood. What with memories of our getting our first TV (it was for Indira Gandhi), watching "Pyar Jhukta Nahin"(Mithun & Padmini Kolhapure), everything about Kamal Sadanah, Target and ofcourse recording my fav 40 songs in a single cassette !!! Whew. You've captured them all.
Keep it up :-)

Smita said...

Ah! Life's simple pleasures - i remember how I used to wait for Friday night Hindi movies on the Tele. How our first car caused such excitement - I went announcing to the whole world that my dad got a second hand fiat - the 80's of limited means and limited dreams - happy in what we have.

Dancin' Fool said...

Hey! Ah another 80's child! My fella says that whenever an 80's tune comes on the radio I get a glazed expression on my face and my eyes go all distant looking! He is a 70's child!

So I have the answer to my Alan Alda question. My sister and I used to watch M*A*S*H* together and she had a big crush on Hawkeye, actually a big crush just does not cover it!

I loved them all but had a particular soft spot for Radar and Clinger. I think I was too young to have lustful feelings for Alan Alda!

Really glad to find your blog....or rather so glad you found mine and left a comment. Be visiting again soon!

Evti said...

Read ur blog.. found it very interesting, a good mix of Lalita type humour & a journey back to 80s. i was young though remember the times of chitrahaar. we used to have a deal with mom, tht we will study xtra if she allow us to watch wed, fri & sunday songs.
Good old sweet days.. also rememberd all comic characters & agrees word to word with u on " Crisp, ink-meets-paper smell of freshly baked comic."
I always felt the same for all the books, even the books tht i bot ths time..

CS said...

I loved loved loved your 80's wala blog post!!! It was so cool....after I read it I just had to listen to Mithun da going 'koi yahaan aha nachey nachey....' hehehe

Raaga said...

This was a fun post. So nostalgic.

I remember the days of VCR and ATARI... we were one of those families... US returned in the mid 80s... so you can imagine :-))

Beth said...

Thanks for stoping by Beth Loves Bollywood and leaving such nice comments (and for the link, too)!


Manoj Vohra said...

Nostalgic... and so well written.
I remember the 'weekend movie' on Doordarshan used to be an 'event' in our (perhaps, everyones) family. Everybody used to be glued to the B&W TV that we had. Not too mention new year eve programme on Doordarshan... LOL.

Keep blogging. You're the best!

methodactor said...

To everyone: Thanks, there is much 80s love going around. I am glad.

Anil P said...

Nazia was synonymous with the 80s, what a decade indeed.

Anonymous said...

Not so often do I get to write/ read stuff where the feeling doesn't get lost in the maze of words. This was so beautifully put together.
could so clearly relate to the stuff u wrote. I even had the fun of going and watching ramayan on sunday mornings with the other kids coz out of seven families, only one had a color tv or any tv at all. chacha chaudhary & sabu ke karname, chitrhaar, the first time i got to see cable tv .... chunkey pande & mithun dada.... all that and more....

methodactor said...

Thanks for what you said, nameless anonymous. I appreciate it. Whoever you are, please keep coming. :-)

GuNs said...

Every blogger in the world can write about this and this still wouldnt be enough. Atleast I know it wouldnt be enough for me. I loved those times. I loved the simplicity back in the 80s when I was a kid. Everything is now so complicated. My dad made friends then when he was 30 years old and they are still in touch and great friends. I am hardly in my 20s and it seems no one these days is willing to invest time and effort in a long time friendship.

Times change, but not always for better. Life goes on... I guess.

Thanks for commenting on my blog. Which is your main blog though? I saw theree in your profile.


Pfunk said...

Okay, for the record:
The 80s did not give us Bowie.
Nor really U2.
They just became a part of your consciousness then.
I am a child of the 70s and late 60s.
These two decades gave us singer/songwriters, man.
The 80s spawned a wave of musical terror that has given us Britney Spears and techno.
Sweet mother of G-d, make it go away!!


Thanks for posting on my blog...
Come back often...

methodactor said...

Hey thanks, pfunk. I guess you are right about that. Let my 80s not hijack the 70s, an equally electric age. :-)