The Sheer Beauty of a Middle Class Upbringing!
We lived and grew up in Hauz Khas, one of the poshest localities in Delhi, in one of those old houses with big terraces and verandah both at the entrance and the backyard where my grandfather would sit reading his newspaper soaking in the winter sun and my father telling me tales of phantom from the cartoon section. But we were far from being rich. It was all thanks to my grandfather’s farsightedness that he bought a house there when it was, as we hear a jungle and nothing else.
A Bajaj scooter is what we had to take all four of us (papa, ma, my brother and I) and a sleeper class bogie for travelling in summer holidays to nana’s house. The fun here was fighting with my brother to grab that coveted spot of standing behind the scooter handle while papa rode and memorising each station as the train went past each one of them.
We were a happy, crazy and chirpy bunch of a dozen cousins under the same roof with super creative minds put perfectly to use whether to play pranks, that I now think were award winning or to put together shows of all nature for everyone in the colony, a marathon, a fancy dress, a flop badminton cup, magic show, quiz show, a dance show, a summer club and what not. Our meagre pocket monies would hardly suffice for our genius ideas so we unapologetically resorted to ‘chandas’ (donation) from sleepy neighbours during hot afternoons after school. Many of them happily obliged with Rs 10 from their pockets.
Chocolates, chips, pastries and cold drinks were things of rarity for which we desperately waited for birthdays in the house or neighbourhood. We got all that and chowmein too on a paper plate. But because we never got these too often, we relished and savoured them to the last bite or sip. Can’t explain the joy we derived.
Festivals were the best days! Even the smaller ones were keenly looked forward to like Bhai Duj where all we kids lined up with our brand new pens drawing Om on pieces of paper and Janmashthmi when mouth watering home made sweets awaited us at midnight and we all excitedly made our way to the brightly lit temple we went to every year and oh yes those replicas we made of Lord Krishna’s home! Diwali was all about pretty new clothes, lighting diyas and crackers and Holi, about getting drenched in colours and dancing like hooligans.
I must mention the dresses I wore since I was born were almost all of them custom made, yes, my mother designed and stitched them all. Frills and laces, they had it all.
I couldn’t have had a better childhood. It was great despite the modest means. The secret to my almost perpetual happiness now is the fact that every time I get hold of what may seem small for everyone else is big for me and that gives me colossal joy.
Flying in the aeroplane seemed just a fantasy, forget ever travelling abroad, a dress from that glittering mall was just wishful thinking and that fancy mobile phone which your friend brought in college when mobiles first launched were but out of reach but now its all real. It’s all happening. With my own money!
My achievements are my own.
If I were born with a silver spoon, that sweet feeling of a take off every time and flying over a bed of clouds wouldn’t be the most exciting thing ever,
And those butterflies wouldn’t be dancing in frenzy in my stomach every time I land in an unexplored part of the world.
That first sight of New York wouldn’t have been so emotional, it was after all but just an unachievable dream city.
Those bags of luxury brands wouldn’t have been filled with pride to the brim. Did I just afford that, is the question I asked myself smiling.
That swanky watch I finally bought wouldn’t have told me that this time, was now mine.
And that pretty mobile phone wouldn’t have shown me I can now dial into my life the way I want to.
That meal in a 5 star wouldn’t have been so delicious.
If I were born with a silver spoon life wouldn’t have given me so many reasons to cheer about!
PS: Here’s what we look like now! 😉