Growing up without Harry Potter and Cartoon Network

As a kid growing up in the late 70s and early 80s in India, I never read or heard of “The Lord of the Rings” and definitely not Harry Potter. To add to the misery, if it would seem so for some of the kids of today, I did not have access to Cartoon Network, electronic toys or computer games! In fact, I have never seen Cable Television at my home. My parents first bought a TV in 1986 and those days, the free-to-air channels (which was the only stuff available) were about 3-5 hours every evening.

So, what did I do?

  1. Playing outdoors was the numero uno activity – cricket, aatya-paatya, soccer, hockey with cricket ball and stumps, french cricket, cycling, gilli-danda, marbles, badminton, running races, walking races, flying kites, hide-and-seek, wrestling (obviously, I never won), tennis with cricket ball, etc.
  2. Listening to radio – At our home, the radio would remain on from 6:00 am in the morning to 11:00 am at night. I still remember some of the special programs that no one listened to:
    • 6:00 am Sanskrit news that started with “Iyam Akashwaani. Samprati waartaaha shruyantam”, i.e., “This is Akashwaani. You are now listening to the news.”
    • KL Saigal at 7:00 am and Binaca sangeetmala (I don’t know what time) both on Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (also called, Ceylon station).
  3. Reading books – Some samples: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Shyamchi Aai (Marathi), Hindu Mythology, Abridged versions of Shakespeare, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and so on…
  4. Reading comics – Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Tintin, and sometimes, Asterix.

I used to, literally, use a torch under my blankets to read these comics and the Hardy Boys books, because my parents disliked the “addiction” ;)Fortunately, someone is taking the painful efforts of maintaing a nice website – The comic project. It has scanned versions of several Indrajaal Comics (Phantom, Mandrake, etc.). I really appreciate this effort.

So, I did have a good time – just in a different way 😉

3 thoughts on “Growing up without Harry Potter and Cartoon Network

  1. Lalit, your account of your childhood brings back vivid memories of my own which are so very similar to the point of being almost identical with the exception of wrestling! Yes, we survived allright, and in fact, in many communities in India, girls after a certain age, usually after 12 or 13 were not encouraged to play outside the house too much. So, there were lots of board games like carroms and checkers and the like. And the Indrajaal comis were the next best thing of course. In our house, we also subscribed to a number of western publications such as Time Magazine, National Geographic and Reader’s Digest as well as the fortnightly Illustrated Weekly (Indian). So, that provided hours of entertainment, and transported us to awesome worlds beyond our own small dusty town. And as for television, I was 11 years old when I first saw a TV set, and it would be four years later when we first bought our own black-and-white (blue-and-white, really!) one!

    So, thanks for the memories. I think we all turned out quite allright despite the lack of Cartoon Network, don’t you think?! 😉

  2. I am utterly sorry for missing out on the indoor games – cricket (breaking bulbs and tubelights in the house; 4 runs if the ball went in the kitchen!), carrom and cards. I am so bad with chess that i gave up!

  3. My husband & I are facing a big challenge bringing up a child in today’s world. I think it must have been easier for our parents since life was so simple in those days. We have the additional disadvantage of being in a foreign country where paronia is the way of life. My childhood was similar to what Lalit described. But I lived in a small town where there was only one circulating library whose membership was very dear. Reading being one of my passions I cherished the summer membership that my parents bought for me every year, provided I did well in school 🙂 I made the most of it by burning the mid-night candle so that I could read as many books as possible in the 2 months of vacation.

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