5 Reasons Why I Wish I were a ’90s Indian Kid

Remember your parents complaining “Kids these days…” when you were busy playing Mario for hours together on TV? Well, it’s your turn now.

Here are some of the coolest things from the 90s India that’ll take you a trip down the memory lane. I bet you will feel bad for how grown up you are now. I sure did feel bad, writing this article.

Those were truly the golden days! No responsibilities, no stress, no frikkin’ Facebook! Damn, what world are we in these days? Well, accept it, move on and enjoy this collection.


1.Music

Bollywood :

A painter is high up on a scaffolding of a building. As the sun blazes down on him and he is engrossed in his work, hanging dangerously high above the ground, a song blares out of his mobile phone. “Aur is dil mein kya rakha hai tera hi naam likha rakha hai » It is from the movie Imaandaar starring Sanjay Dutt. Singer Suresh Wadkar is straining his vocal chords, infusing the high notes with the pathos of a man trying to convince his woman that he loves her to bits. The next line says that if she were to rip his heart apart (ouch!) she would find her name inscribed there.

Elsewhere, a taxi winds up a mountain road in one of the hill stations in north India.  It’s been a long journey from Delhi/Mumbai to the nearest airport or railway station; a peaceful drive to the hotel would be nice. But the cabbie is in the mood for songs of bitter love.  “Ab tere bin ji lenge hum. Zahar zindagi kaa pi lenge hum” Kumar Sanu‘s nasal voice playing on a scratchy tape recorder fills the car.  I can learn to live without you. Life would be like drinking poison but what ‘s the big deal if one heart breaks, says this hit song from Aashiqui  (1990)  It seems churlish to tell him to stop playing the music because it seems to be the norm with small town cabbies, so you stay silent, your own mood affected by the blues.

A group of masons are laying cement on bricks. “ Tumhe apna banane ki kasam ” floats through their portable transistor kept close by. It is Kumar Sanu again, playback singing for Sunjay Dutt in Sadak (1991 ). Or maybe they would play “Chaha hai tujhko, chahunga har dum ” (Mann 1999). “I loved you, will love you each moment, I may die but my love for you will not reduce.” Whew.

Or  Sanu again in “Teri Umeed  Tera Intezar “ (Deewana 1991),  a song practically heaving with emotion.

What’s common to all these numbers? They are all from Hindi movies released in the 1990s, (except Imaandaar which is late ‘80s but fits the type) , many have been sung by the king of that era-Kumar Sanu, composed by Nadeem Shravan and almost invariably, speak of unbearable longing, bitter heartbreak, undying passion or promises of togetherness till death and beyond.  They convey all this through a very particular kind of heightened intensity in the lyrics that was typical to Bollywood songs of the 90s, especially those of early 1990s.

Kollywood :

Everybody in the 90s made sure they had a cassette of Kadhalan in their walkmans because the whole album is amazing. With hits like “Muqabala Muqabala” and “Petta Rap”, the album will always go down in history as one of Rahman’s best works. But there is something about the eclectic and mega-fun “Urvasi Urvasi” that stands out. So much so that it inspired popstar Will.I.Am to do a version of his own.

Wow 90s! It was a golden period for everything. The childhood! Full of Thalaivar’s evergreen Baasha and Annamalai. Sakthimaan! Popeye and Tom and Jerry.

Now coming to best songs! We can’t list out but here are top picks!

Ok! I agree it’s too tough to list out the best songs! It’s huge. But these are a few songs of 90s.

The thing about the 90s Indian music is that despite lack of instruments and technology, and most importantly, there were very, very few musicians, and yet, they broke records. While today’s music is full of swag and style, it lacks the sense of true music. The recently released Indian songs, inspite of being hits, aren’t the ones you can listen to for more than a year. But these songs aged more than a couple of decades, still seem to play in Indian households, and in cars during long drives.


2. Lifestyle : 90s v/s Present

  • Respect.
  1. They used to inherently respect their elders, even though they may be less educated. They knew that they had something which made them qualified enough to teach them life values beyond academics, and honestly, they helped.
  2. Kids, including me today require a logical explanation for anything. They question their elders quite rudely, and under no circumstance would respect someone academically inferior to them. Some would argue that this trait makes them smarter, well, I think it makes them just plain arrogant, stupid and stubborn.

Company.

  1. When they were at home, they used to study, or do something productive. When they got bored, they went outside to hang out with their friends. As a result,they had the right balance of productivity and enjoyment to keep themselves physically fit and mentally strong.
  2. It’s all hooked up to a three pin plug. Education, entertainment, sports, recreation, everything. One simply does not study with Facebook open in the background. So, neither are we having fun, nor are we doing something useful.

Conversations

In 90s they used to talk to friends face to face most of the times and sometimes on landline.
Today’s kids talk to their friends online most of the times and sometimes face to face.

During holidays

90’s Kids: Hardly stays at home.
Today’s Kids: Hardly goes out of home.

Daily Routine:

90s:

  • 6:00 AM: Wake up and get ready for school
  • 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM: School
  • 3:30 PM – Cartoon
  • 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM: Study
  • 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM: Play (which used to get extended till 8)
  • 8:30 PM: Dinner
  • 9:30 PM: Sleep


Today:

  • 6:00 AM: Wake up and get ready for school
  • 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM: School
  • 3:30 PM – Playing PS/X-box
  • 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM: Tutions
  • 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM: Playing PS/X-box (which gets extended till 8)
  • 8:30 PM – 10:30 PM: Study
  • 10:30 PM: Dinner
  • 11:00 PM – 12:00 AM: Chatting on mobile (which gets extended by 1 or more hours)
  • After chatting: Sleep

3. Judgementality

How many times a day are you judged by the way you dress or the kind of car you drive? How many times a day do you judge someone else’s appearance or even the way they talk and walk?

At school, university, office or even when walking in a mall surrounded by strangers, the judgement game is never ending. I know that I judge everyone, putting them into categories and on shelves in my head.

In our society with different nationalities and ethnicities, we depend on the ability to interact with people primarily through sight. Therefore, we worry about our appearance a lot and how people will “Think of us” or “Think of me” if I spent all day wearing this T-shirt or not matching my pants, and women worry about carrying a well-known brand of bag. Hence, we spend a great deal of time and money tweaking our image to make it more fitting to others.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against looking good. But, a judgemental society is not productive and it kills the creativity in us. Why is that? Because we are comfortable in following trends.

Even in marriages, you’ll find examples of our judgemental tendencies. We marry having an idea of how we want our partner to be, and then when we do get married, we refuse to accept the differences they have and start judging that person, and try to change them to our liking. Many people refuse to change and even if they do change they are not convinced about it.

Now I totally agree, Indian society used to be strict back then. It still is. But now, we live in a society wherein social media plays a more important role.

Back then, there was no instagram,no Facebook,and no Google. So whatever you do remains within the four walls of your home. But now, any picture or media posted receives negative comments within seconds. We live in a world wherein people live just to merely impress the society from a virtual perspective.


4. Relationships

The family in India is often understood as an ideal homogenous unit with strong coping mechanisms. It is a basic, cohesive, and integral unit of the larger social systems. Moreover, families in a large and culturally diverse country such as India have plurality of forms that vary with class, ethnicity, and individual choices. Its members are bound by interpersonal relationships in a wider network of role and social relations.

The bonds of friendship can at times also be stronger than family ties.And in offices down and across the country colleagues are increasingly stepping in during moments of crisis: donating or arranging blood and helping out with the Kafkaesque dealings with hospital authorities. Just as the family would have once done. But today: cousins go missing. Siblings are elsewhere or have unobliging spouses. Time, increasingly, is money for the blood family.

Family was a need. It was a kind of cordon sanitaire: this side of the hearth was safe as you huddled together against any of the threatening elements outside. The joint family took in the weak and the strong, single women and single men, the needy and the marginal like a good nanny welfare state.

The traditional, rooted family hasn’t disappeared from small town India and persists in pockets of urban India. But the mobile, global family has grown in numbers and created a need for the New Family. The joint family fragmented into the extended and nuclear family, which in turn, has become more amorphous as people move to bigger cities or overseas in search of a better life.

Unmoored, they now look for new moorings and new families. Ironically, the looser nuclear family is not family enough for many. Couples and even small nuclear families need to bond elsewhere.

Friends-as-family is a city thing. The new family cannot survive in small-town India because the family influence is all pervasive. “There is freedom in friendship and friendship itself has become so intimate that the boundaries between friends and family have disappeared.” 

The notion of friendship is translating into family in different age groups. The post-Independence Indian is now making his new family through work, friendship and common hobbies. More disposable incomes are the glue for the new pre-middle-aged and middle-aged family.

And when one of the clan falls in love, the others tend to get possessive, reacting much the same way a joint family would, to a new daughter-in-law. They close ranks. And again, like a traditional family, each new entrant has a settling in period. Gradually, even this family begins to have its secrets which they keep from each other.

Or in other words, the family is dead, long live the family.


5. Education

If you went to college in the 90s then chances are you probably spent your free time playing PlayStation, watched Friends in your dorm room on a Thursday night, listened to Nirvana or REM on your Walkman and you were all too familiar with the pain of dial-up.

Anyone who went to college in the 90s will no doubt be well aware that technology has changed ever so slightly since they’ve shared a dorm room. Students nowadays have access to any piece of information they want whenever they want. They can access information from a laptop, tablet or mobile phone and they are no longer reliant on queueing up in the computer labs or attending college fairs to find information on schools they might like to attend.

  1. I am not that much biased to say that today’s kids are worst in each and every aspect of life. The 90s kids had a pretty cool childhood. They used to play with friends, go out on vacations, spend time with cousins and hard work did pay off. Being an engineer was a big deal and though jobs weren’t a plenty, nevertheless they enjoyed while they were young.
  2. Now – School for 6 hours, come home to 4 hours of tuition, followed by 2 hours of special classes, IIT, AIEEE, Medicals, all consolidated, vacations are reserved for mock tests. Life being literally squeezed out of them. No wonder the suicide rates peaked.

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