When we were little, as soon as the clock struck five, we’d run up to the terrace and play games like “Pakda Pakdi”, “Saakli”, “Dongar Paani”, “Sea-Sand-Water-Land”, “Chor-Police” “Fire-in-the-mountain”, and then advanced to cricket, cycling, badminton and skating as we grew up.
After sunset when it got too dark to see, we'd play our all-time favourite game- "Bhoot-Bhoot". After a round of "Een-Peen(Pin)-Septee(Safety)-Peen-Een-Peen-Out- Khelna Hai Toh Khelo Warna Get Out" (i still don't know what that means! :D), the unfortunate (or fortunate) one got to be the "Bhoot" (ghost). We'd dab talcum powder on his/her face till it got stark white and smear blood-red lipstick on the lips! Once the "Bhoot" was ready, we'd all go into hiding. There was only one place where we were allowed to hide- on the stairs that led to the terrace! Okay, I know it doesn't make much sense if the "Bhoot" already knows our hiding spot but that was the rule. You couldn't break it. Either you play by the rules- hide there and pretend to get scared when the "Bhoot" arrives, or don't play at all! Needless to say, our parents would always chase us around when they'd see the talcum powder bottle empty in a week's time! :D
We'd also play board games like "Scrabble", "Snakes & Ladders", "Ludo", "Scotland Yard", "Business". And at the onset of the monsoons, just before the first showers could hit the earth, we'd get the carrom board out that always lay behind the couch otherwise. Barbie dolls were also in vogue then. Chinky and I had a huge collection of them. We'd bathe them, dress them up, braid their hair, even got a whole kitchen set for them! Once, we even stitched clothes for them looking up different styles and patterns in tailoring books! I don't ever remember spending as much time grooming myself! :D
Summer vacation nights were spent playing "UNO" when we were allowed to sleep an hour late! :) And in the daytime, we went to some art class that we were enrolled for- drawing, glass-painting, calligraphy, candle-making and the like!
Television was also different then.
I remember regularly following shows like "Alif Laila", "Tenali Raman", "Surabhi" starring Renuka Shahane and Siddharth Kak, "Dekh Bhai Dekh", "Jaspal Bhatti", "Tehkikaat", "Mind Your Language" as well as the hindi version of it- "Zabaan Sambhaalke". Sundays were spent watching different versions of "Mahabharata" and "Ramayana"! And on weekdays, they'd air shows like "Different Strokes", "Small Wonder", "Silver Spoons", "Happy Days", "Three's Company", "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Bewitched". After a few years came shows like "Full House" and "F.R.I.E.N.D.S.". I still link Zee TV's Antakshari with Anu Kapoor and Pallavi Joshi.
Now, television has literally turned into an idiot box. After the much-awaited end of the era of family drama soaps, staged "Reality" shows took over and there's nothing worth watching anymore. Now, I switch on the TV only on Sundays to watch back-to-back re-runs of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and Seinfeld sometimes.
Music was an out-of-the-world experience. I used to play songs by the Backstreet Boys, MJ, Aqua, Blue, Westlife and Steps (5-6-7-8) over and over again! I'd call up iTV and MTV Select (VJ Nikhil Chinnappa) and request for songs. Hindi albums were also one of a kind with groups like "Aryans", "Bombay Vikings", "Colonial Cousins", "Instant Karma", "Silk Route" and "Distant Voice". Singers like Lucky Ali, K.K., Sonu Nigam and Shaan will always be remembered and there will never be another A.R. Rahman. Music has taken a whole new definition now. Songs these days last for a week or two, they are forgotten as soon as another nasal singer comes in. No one now saves up their pocket money to buy that original Beatles CD, they just rip it off the internet!
Reading habits were also far more developed then than the case it is now. I spent my early teens competing with classmates on who would finish the "Nancy Drew" or the "Trixie Belden" series first. We'd name our groups as "The Famous Five" or "The Adventurous Four" after books by Enid Blyton. Our librarian would always cringe when she saw us coming, knowing we'd disturb her neatly arranged shelves again!
And when we were assigned a project in school, I'd scan through my folder of newspaper cuttings or through my collection of books and encyclopedias. We'd also go searching for books on the topic assigned to us, read up and collect information. Now, Google, a few clicks and Ctrl-F does everything for you. There's no effort put in at all!
In my late teens, I'd spend my evenings with Mona, Chinky, Alisha sipping on hot cutting chai in our balcony and talking for hours!
However much the Internet has benefitted man and shrunk the world into a small town, it has destroyed the simple joys of life. I agree it's nice to see kids getting tech-savvy at a younger age, but they've forgotten to run around and play. They no longer come home with their hands and legs dirty with muck, they've stopped getting endless scoldings from the neighbourhood society's uncle for breaking his window pane whilst playing cricket. "Katti-batti" does not exist anymore with fights only happening on playstations now. Gone are the days!
I wouldn't be surprised to see toddlers of the next generation going to pre-school nursery carrying PDAs.
I'm glad atleast I didn't miss out on any of it! I sigh as I recall every moment.. those were the days!
P.S: I don't know how much sense all of this made to you considering the examples I used everywhere. Indians who grew up in the 90s would be able to relate to this the best! :)