Summer Vacations: Then and Now

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Ruchira reminisces about summer vacations. Life in the past was simpler and uncluttered. The simple joys of yesteryears are passé. The concept of family outings has changed now. The tech-savvy generation, joy is just a flick of a button away, she opines, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Seeing summer vacations come around, every year makes me nostalgic;  it transports me back to those times, three to four decades ago, when  I too was a school-goer. Summer vacations may remain the same but the spirit and the ambiance have changed a lot.

Decades ago, life was much simpler, uncluttered; as children, we lived in tune with nature or in the lap of nature. Modernisation and/or mechanisation were conspicuous by their absence. During sweltering summer nights, we slept on charpoys in the lawns, gardens, and terraces. The starry skies were our canopy, an occasional cool breeze lulled us to sleep. Whenever a dust storm arose, we would scamper indoors en famille, beddings and all, to spend the rest of the night in the stifling interiors.

Since refrigerators were not commonplace, our moms had to cook fresh stuff twice daily. Children would quench their thirst, draining fizzy drinks at the neighbourhood confectionery store. The immense variety of ice creams was virtually unheard of; for kids, those days, popsicles or ice lollies were manna from heaven. As were the indigenous Kulfi.  Image result for kulfi in moms refrigerator

Evening power outages took the wind out of our sails; all we could do was sweat it out, swat mosquitoes, sit listening to gossips of neighborhood women gone into huddles; menfolk discussed politics and current affairs. Houses with massive terraces would witness the daadis /naanis heading there with grandchildren in tow. A large mat or groundsheet would be spread; kids would take positions around granny, who would rattle out stories – of ghosts, prince and princesses, and mythology galore. During daylight hours, children enjoyed a siesta, read magazines, or browsed through comics. The avid readers would read books. Enid Blyton’s works, besides Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, were in vogueThe not so literally inclined devoted themselves to indoor games, needlework et al. listening to musical programmes on transistors or the ubiquitous gramophones was another favourite pastime. The focus was on indoors. To venture out in the blistering heat was foolhardy.

Kids and teenagers being taken along to the cinema would be a memorable treat. Even in upmarket households dining or lunching out was a rare phenomenon.

During summer vacations the young ‘uns’ were bundled off (or dragged) to their relatives’ homes whether they liked it or not. If there were cousins around, it was fun. Instead, if there were only disgruntled adults, the sojourn would be dull as dull can be. Planned holidays organised by parents came as boons to liven up the vacation.

Now: The Much Altered Canvas 

Decades later the picture has changed beyond recognition. School children nowadays sleep away the nights in cavernous bedrooms swathed in Jaipuri quilts with the ACs whirring all night long. Power cuts no longer affect them since most households now b0ast of inverters. In every home, refrigerators remain heavily laden with coolants, both solid and liquids. Reading, needlecraft, indoor games are now passé. Following a mega invasion by internet and electronics sectors,  day in and day out youngsters of all ages and sizes are seen poring over slim, glitzy, smart, handsets –  chatting with pals on WhatsApp, liking photos and posting  comments on Facebook, texting, listening to music watching films, sometimes Image result for dish antenna at homestudying seriously too  –  without having to stir out of their comfort zones. These little cellular phones open vistas of an exciting new world on the palm of their hands! Emulating the little ones, modern grandparents too are turning tech savvy. Rather than acting storyteller they prefer enjoying themselves with their mobile phones. Another handy option is a film viewing on TV courtesy of the dish antenna that has made inroads into nearly every home. Even in peak summer, there is no daytime curfew for the kids; one can find them eating drinking with their cronies, in steamy eateries, smoky burger, and pizza outlets. In case they are feeling lazy or too tired to venture out, at any hour of the day, all they need to do is to flick a button and voila, a lunch packet arrives on the doorstep!  The bulk of holiday reading has yielded place to a huge quantum of reading and entertainment material on the internet. As for parental supervision and guidance, oh well, that’s another story.

As for visiting relatives, ensemble, well the grown-ups had better do it on their own. The kids nowadays have their own itineraries: Outstation tours with classmates, jam sessions, yoga camps, fashion shows, treks and what have you. Who cares about meeting members of extended families, anyway, when you can easily access them on social media whenever you want to?

Who has the time to enjoy proximity to nature? The strong sun will impart a deep tan to your skin; as a result, you have to reach out for that bottle of sunscreen lotion. Even the early morning air is less fresh and more polluted. As for the sky dotted with the moon and stars, one can view them in films. So what’s the big deal?

©Ruchira Adhikari Ghosh

Photos from the Internet

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Born in Guwahati Assam, Ruchira grew up in Delhi and Punjab. A product of Sacred Heart Convent, Ludhiana, she holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh. Armed with a P.G diploma in journalism in Journalism, she has been a pen-pusher for nearly 25 years. Her chequered career encompasses print, web, as well as television. She has metamorphosed as a feature writer, her forte being women’s issues, food, travel and literature.