Childhood: Nostalgia of Our First Generation post Independence

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“When we are old and failing, it is the memories of Childhood, which can be summoned most clearly“-Dan Simmons. I hope someday I can move back in time, not exchange anything but feel a few things twice. Yeah, that Childhood of mine was the most beautiful of all life’s seasons- that boundless freedom, endless imagination, the bruise from the playground, sharing in the food & above all, the innocent waves of laughter. The simplicity of Childhood has inestimable stories of ours, our parents & grandparents. So let us look back.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Family Picture

My parents were the first generation, born in Independent India. The 1950s & 1960s seem like a long time, but it’s not; our parents grew up around them through the succeeding decades. It was when India was taking a child step into complex nationhood, and so were our parents, who were entering their wanderlust called Childhood. They owned the essential amenities to comfort, hardly any luxury, but that did not ruin their carefree Childhood.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Old Bagan Badi

Significantly, they distinctly remember memories of their raising with cousins & friends, running barefoot in the sprawling garden of their grandparent’s house, climbing trees to pluck mangoes, guava, or berries, playing different games, primarily outdoors or learning to swim in a big pond, if all cousins put together, my parents were ten kids or more in the house. Woo, that’s huge.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Village life

It may sound like a story to today’s kids growing up in high-rise constructions of modern India. Nonetheless, the 50s & 60 were about Anna, do anna or paisa, which exhorts chuckle out of you when you hear your parent talk about eating ten Golgappas of an Anna. Since there were no supermarkets or shopping malls, eating out was rare. It was two samosas of a 1ana with any sweet of 4anna from local sweet cum snack shops.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Ek Aana & Do Aana

Most cuisines were Muglai or Punjabi; something vaguely remembered by my dad was European food served under the name of Continental Cuisine was gluey soup with hard bread. Later few restaurants started doing Idli-Dosa, known as Udipi restaurant in cities; however, there was still no Chinese, Italian, Udipi restaurant in cities; there was still no Chinese or Italian or any different cuisine. My dad remembered the distinct flavour of Glodspot & Coca-cola, the aerated drink, and even Goli soda in grape or lime. Agreed! Cold beverages cannot be forgotten. But families were large, with at least three generations living together with no nuclear family concept, so mothers, grandmas, or aunts had the best recipes. So hot yummy food was always available. Ah! What a pamper.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Orange flavoured Coldrinks

The ludicrous comparison of past & present brings fond memories; my parents remember this period fondly, probably because of the simplicity that life offered. There were no air conditioners or refrigerators in most of the ordinary houses, kerosene stoves or coal burners were available & taps had running water. They slept on charpoys on the terrace under the stars & woke up with a rooster morning call. All India Radio was the best entertainment source for news, cricket commentary or Binaca Geetmala on radio Cyleon, as television was a luxury that few households owned.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Newspaper- the source of information

The national channel Doordarshan broadcasts everything from News to Krishi Darshan, Hockey, or Kabbadi to endless Flok dances or songs. As it was televised for a few hours, taking in the grainy black & white images would mesmerise my parents as a kid.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Black & white television

My parents were fond of movies and talking about cinemas which were significant to the cities where you can go to a cinema hall & enjoy the 35mm screen but need to stand in a long queue for a ticket. However, in small towns or hamlets, it used to be an open playground with a white cloth as a screen & a projector for screening beautiful stories, good acting and lovely songs.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Cinema hall

These motion pictures were often about real issues faced by India. At the time, instead of being only about Bollywood romances. All sighed with joy when they used to see Dilip Kumar and Madhubala lip-synced. It was to Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics, and Naushad’s in Mugal-e-Azam released in Aug 1960.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Actress- Madhubala

Most important filmy fashion was as much of a fad as today, most notably clothing & hairstyle. I think of singing songs like Nani Teri Morni ko more Leo Gaye. Or Ichak Dana Bichak Dane par Dana; even Lakri ki Kathi Kathi PE Ghoda during my Antakshari game are the 60s or 70s music. Listening to these, my parents grew up hearing. Phew, that’s like a tradition being handed on to a generation.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Fashion in the 50s & 60s Era

Even The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin made their brand in India. Thanks to Binaca Hit Parade on Radio Ceylon.


And my aunt’s walls as a teenager were covered with the cheeky face of Paul McCartney and the brooding visage of Mick Jagger. The rock bands had mushroomed all over the nation and became a part of youth culture despite the odds.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Led Zeppelin

I have heard this line multiple times that the present generation is spoilt for choices, as my parents had limited options in terms of clothing, shoes, watches, or even automobiles. HMT was the only watchmaker where the wait time was a couple of months to get a watch. The same was with motors, just for models Ambassador and FIAT, whose design remained unchanged for over a decade. The principal mode of transportation were buses, cycle rickshaws or trams rattling down the street ringing bells.

HMT watch

On the other hand, the only shoes available were in black & from Bata, hardly any designer clothes, only colourful ribbons or buns as hair accessories. Even Making calls were expensive, but the selection was limited due to the time limitation of a maximum 9min & minimum 3min. You hold to book trunk calls, demand calls or lightning calls for emergencies & wait patiently for your turn. My mom started working with Post & Telegraph, & she had numerous stories to share.

Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Ambassador Car

Childhood was not all play; with play also came obedience, discipline and sincerity. Education was an integral & essential part of my parent’s Childhood, which started at home. As generations lived together, having grandparents around benefited, as they had all the universe’s time. If grandpa were to solve math puzzles, answer all crazy questions, and recognise trees, birds, or even the constellation of a star, then grandma would be the best secret keeper & a great storyteller of all faraway & imaginary worlds.


Nostalgia:Our First Generation Childhood
Time with grandparents

In those days, books used to be children’s best friend, as going to the library was a part of the everyday routine for a school project or college notes. Even the sleepy summer afternoons were spent blissfully poring over books, fighting over film magazines or comic-like DC, Marvel, Gold Key, Manzarek or maybe a table game where everyone honed their cheating skills at cards.


The concept of peer pressure or generation gap did not exist; instead, elders & teachers lead by being respectful, honest & truthful. Learning was given to control one’s greed, temptation & anger.

Indian Comic

If there were many pros while growing up in the first two decades of an independent India, it had its cons. Life was more straightforward, with less chaos, more peace, fewer needs & more happiness. This period’s uniqueness was the constant optimism for the future, as the spirit of Independence was infectious. It was a golden era where life was celebrated; as we progressed, the burden of living has increased to the point that it feels tiring now.

The simplicity of life







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