Well, it depends .. there are so many variations, your experience of life is determined to a large extent by your socio-economic background, the number of siblings you have, your extended family, your neighborhood etc; but then again there are elements that are shared by all individuals who live in an age. So I will try and limit the first few editions of my life in the 80s to experiences, many of the individuals growing up in the 80s can relate to ..
Another important factor will be my impression of the age we live in: my own prejudices and preferences, will mediate in the selection of salient experiences from my childhood – but should matter much, because I believe I am right and anyone who disagrees, well he needs to reflect deeply; the use of ‘he’ is not accidental or sexist, I have yet to meet women who disagree with me, they generally, are more sensitive to these issues than men, and see the sense in what I say.
When we were growing up in the 80s we had such a thing called an ‘extended family’; not to say children today do not have them, they do, but qualitatively, ours was different. Whereas, our extended family consisted of real people theirs consists of virtual people.
I remember that we used to wait for the weekends with such impatience, because on weekends we would spend a night with our cousins. We did not own a car, but our cousins did, so we started planning a couple of days in advance. In the days of one car in an upper middle class family things had to be planned before hand. Our cousins would wait for the car to get done with all the important business and then they would coerce the poor driver into one last errand. We on the other hand would be all packed up, with our night suits, tooth brushes and all. Our cousins would call us before leaving and as soon as I put down the phone I would park my stuff and myself near the window, from where I could see every car coming into our ‘galli’. Our greetings were very warm and genuine, with bear hugs and high fives. The drive to their house would be full of excitement and marked by a ritualistic stopover at a khokha for Pepsis and chips.
The fun started as soon as we got to their house, we would wolf our food down and then head out, to set up lights for the night of cricket. All my cousins, younger and older, took part in this weekend GT. Sports would be interrupted by snack and chai breaks, courtesy my aunts who loved being part of the fun. After cricket we would sit with our bajis (female cousins) and they would tell us ghost stories. The next day was a repeat of this kind of fun and we would leave with more plans for the next weekend.
Back in the day our parents had no issues with our aunts, they in turn would have no issues with our parents, even if they had children were never part of the family politics.
What I have sadly noticed with people growing up today is that everyone is too concerned about how their kids are treated. Kids have become important pawns in the politics and parents deprive their kids of their extended family. In these competitive times, parents often compare their kids with their cousins, something that can be of no benefit. It is just sad.
And these children now have television characters as their family, ever night they spend hours watching Star Plus, really shallow soap operas, with family politics and what not; and this then is their extended family.
May be I am just completely wrong in my reading. Your comments will be appreciated.