11 August 2013

10 Treasures of A Happy Childhood

Lately I've been gaining weight like the Library of Congress gains books. Which has, sadly, made me transition from the right to left side of a Loreal Anti Aging Poster.

In a bid to combat the increasingly worrying queries from relatives who are considering turning my future hunt for a bride into a nail biting, almost impossible sounding reality show, I've decided to seek refuge in the past.

Like most of you, I've been blessed by God Almighty with a wonderful childhood. Or, cynically speaking, I was allowed to experience what pure bliss felt like, before having to face the other, murkier end of the spectrum.

So I've decided to list down the ten biggest influences, memories, relics, moments - or in short, treasures - of my childhood. It would serve you well to keep in mind that I was born and brought up in Qatar, as an NRI kid. Just saying, don't expect 'Milking the cow' to be in the list.

So without much further ado, allow me to take you down memory lane. Perhaps you've had similar fond memories as well...

# 10 : Jurassic Park

Ah...Steven Spielberg! If the testimonials of my elder sisters are true, Jurassic Park was the first movie that I ever saw on the big screen, at the tender little age of 3 or 4. Not only did I cry at the top of my voice, I completely forgot about the whole episode and screamed again several years later when I watched the movie on TV. Then I stopped screaming and rented the movie on VHS. Few years later, I munched pocket and chuckled in delight as I finished downloading the torrent file for the movie. Not only did Jurassic Park make me fall in love with movies, it started my fascination for the greatest director of all time : Steven Spielberg.

# 9 : Archies

Sure there have been funnier comic books around like Asterix and TinTin. But Archies for some reason seems like it belongs to our generation. It was the book you'd pick up if you were too bored of T.V. yet not so bored as to read a full length novel. Archies contained some great humour. And I'd be commiting perjury if I didnt say this : It opened the eyes of young boys to the fantastic concept of bikinis. I mean like, really really opened...

# 8 : Pringles

Okay, ignore the obvious connection between my waist line and this wonderful tennis ball style can of chips. Instead, rip off the seal of a fresh can, delicately pick up a slice or two, and close your eyes as you hear the chips crunch in your mouth. Then tell me with conviction that this cannot be the best chips in the world.

I'm no cuisine expert, but at the age of 10 or so, I picked up a can of Pringles. And I've been returning ever since, sometimes with crumbles still deposited on the front of my T-shirt. Like the ad says, once you pop, you cant stop!

# 7 : Boulevard of Broken Dreams

The song that started my love affair with music. Till then the farthest I'd gotten was No matter who you are, where your from, what you did, as long as you love me! (Note to 13 year old me : Yuck!)

But this song changed everything. It was a time when illegal music downloading and music player enabled phones were just emerging on the market. This song provided the perfect union between the two. At one point, almost every phone I came across had this solitary song in the music library.

I hardly listen to it now. But every time I hear the lyrics, it takes me back to my childhood, before I discovered every major genre of music.

# 6 : Monopoly

Go Directly To Jail, Do Not Cross Go, Do Not Collect 200.

Oh, has there ever been a better phrase to upset one and turn three other children into squealing, delighting pigs? I'll always consider the hours spent playing this game with my friends Ajmal, Nassif and Vinod as one of the happiest times in my life. We build our empires, formed treaties, broke them, and ended up broke.

And the best part of the whole game would be when the richest player steps onto Mediterranean Avenue, the cheapest property owned by the poorest player. And the poorest player charges 4 dollars rent. And the richest one whips out a 500 dollar note, smiles devilishly and says, "Get me the change, would you?"

Ah the good old days!

# 5 : Pokemon


There was the epic cartoon series. The even more epic nintendo games that were surprisingly addictive. And perhaps most addictive of all, the cards! Oh, the cards. We would trade with them, wage battles with them, claim we didnt have them when one of us suddenly lost one. Pokemon was the cartoon series that we fell in love with. The one that stood out from all the rest.

# 4 : Cartoon Network

Where have all the good cartoons gone?

I can confidently walk up to today's generation of kids, stick my tongue out and say, "Na, na, na, naa, naa! You dont have the old Cartoon Network!" Because seriously, before the TV Channel lost it and changed their logo, and with it all the major cartoons, there was an entire generation of children who enjoyed Powerpuff Girls, Swat Cats, Dexter (No, not the cold blooded murderer!), Samurai Jack, and many others. They're all gone now I suppose. Today's children should never stop weeping.

# 3 : MSN Messenger

There is no software on earth, with the possible new exception of Whatsapp, that has been the facilitator of so many friendships, gossips, love affairs and break ups. MSN Messenger was the broker of all brokers (that's a purely Indian reference, sorry!). In fact, most of my friends and I discovered friendships, fell in love and promptly fell out of it through a series of *ting*so and so has just signed in!*

And sadly, MSN Messenger too has been shut down. Sigh...

# 2 : Age of Empires

This is probably where I'll lose most of you, for this is the nerdiest selection in the list. It also happens to be one of the most epic games of all time, so bugger off! This game taught me all I know about European History, empire building, and slowly losing vision in both eyes. This was the game that started the quest for all other, less awesome games. The game that consumed countless hours of my childhood. All for total world domination. And it was worth every second of it.

# 1 : Harry Potter

Ah. Let me take a minute to digest this.

Where do I begin?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was a simple book that I picked up after both my elder sisters were done with it. It was a book that I read without any hype or hysteria. It was the first of seven books that, in the course of the next ten years, shaped my childhood, made me count down the days to the releases, and most importantly, ignite my creativity and cause me to become a writer.

Perhaps I've mentioned this before, but it's apt in this situation as well. After Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released, there was a three year long agonising wait for the fifth chapter. Since I was still an idiot then, I read a fan written novel that I thought had been 'leaked' online. I was so furious, that I thought I could think of a better story. And I did. But I told my friends the same lie I'd believed, that this story I was about to narrate to them was leaked online.

For the next two days I narrated the whole story to them, and they listened spellbound. In the end, I confessed to one of them that the story was my own creation, not the real deal. My friend chuckled and replied, 'Dont lie man, you're not THAT good.'

That was the day I knew I wanted to be a story teller.

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  1. I completely agree on 7 out of the 10 things =P I miss my child hood days!! Nd oh ya well written as always =)

  2. Haha...you got me nailed....through 9 of dese...n on d 2nd one...u r right...I got lost...but then...it's amazing all d same...got my memories back ... (Y)

  3. spell bound wud b an understatement bro it ws a loootttt more than tht.. i remember sitting in at the bus stop by yur house listening in awe.. :D :D wundt mind listening to yu narrate it oll over again :D :D ...

    " ~ keep smiling ~ "