I think I am in a nostalgic mood again, and the best way to get over it is just spilling it all out.
Earlier in one of the post I compared life in the 80s to the 90s, now I feel like talking about some of the things in detail. I think for now I want to write about shopping habits in the 80s.
A few minutes walk from my house we had a few shops: a book and stationary shop, a general store and a few other odd makeshift samosa wallas. My favorite was the bookshop, when I was a kid I was obsessed with stationary; I had an enviable collection of erasures (we would call them rubbers and only later found out that was rude), sharpeners (we would call them shopners), pencils, crayons, markers, and geometry boxes. I had like a hundred of the brown pencils, in our days it was the new thing, they had a very light fragrance and were just the accessory to have; add to this the colorful collection of, I think Milan erasures; and a whole range of other odd things, like weird shaped sharpeners, the 12 color market set, foot rulers – so I could draw neat headlines in red or blue. Different colored ink became popular in those days as well, so I had the red ink pot, the blue one, the black one and the green one. Every night before going to school I would reload my dollar pens.
I was also really into story books, Tarzan, Umaro Ayyar, Gul e Bakaoli, the talim or tarbiyyat magazine; as a result jadogar, jinn, churail, bona, and shahzadi used to be a very important part of my imagination. I used to love reading that stuff, but what I loved even more was having all off those little story books. I remember the cheap ones used to cost 4 anay and the more expensive ones were like 8 Rs or something. I used to save up to buy the more expensive ones.
Because of these strange interests, I used to spend hours in the book shop. In those days everyone knew everyone, so it was not a big deal, the uncle in the book shop was always very nice to me and my parents would never mind my spending time in the shop.
The second favorite shop was the general store, we used to go there to get ‘cheez’; it was a generic word and can be translated as ‘stuff’, so if anyone asked where are you going, I would say cheez laynay. I used to love the mitchells toffee and mayfair’s bon bon (the thin fruity ones) and the milk toffee with a cow on it, forget the name. Nimko and golden chips were also favorites and I should also mention wafer biscuits. These were real treats for us.
Whenever I was short on money I would buy barfi, for 8 anas I would get enough for the day; I would carry in my pocket and ever so often would have a small bite. If I had more money I would have a samosa, with the chana chat and podeena sauce .. as I write my mouth waters at the thought of that amazing samosa.
How can I forget the imli aaloo bukharay wala, who used to pass through our gali every day. We boys were not allowed the imli and aalo Bukhara – my uncle would often ask me to empty my pockets to see if had any and if I did it would be confiscated. But I loved it, so what we would do is buy lots and hide them, wait until night and then we would go to the roof (chat) to enjoy our goodies – it was so much fun, defying authority etc.
Then there was also Hico, the kulfi wala, the challi wala, and the lachay wala. All of these items were coveted but back in the day we would only be allowed the luxury once in a week or something. Our family was adamant on disciplining us and we were often had to go without.