I used to love the old DD (Doordarshan) public service message ads. The favourite one being the one about conscientiously wearing a helmet while riding a bike. A serious voice would declare: “Marzii hai aapki akhir sarr hai apka…” while a brawny arm smashed two coconuts on a split screen with a huge hammer. One coconut had a helmet on and the other one didn’t. I think all of us as a nation cringed every time that one unprotected coconut got smashed to bits.
The high jumping lice on a pair of gossipy juvenile heads was another grossly fascinating favourite. Always played without fail right before all children programmes on Sunday, it was potent enough to get mothers scurrying to check if they had enough Medicare shampoo in their bathroom closets to battle such an epidemic. The ad of course never mentions that louse breed on clean scalps faster. 😛
Recently I read this lovely book called Those Pricey Thakur Girls. Not a literary epic but it was a flashback into India of the late 80s and early 90s, the one I still identify with. Pre-liberalisation had so many things going wrong for India but sometimes being in a time warp had its own charm (mostly in hindsight). Every time there was a bit about the said Thakur girls’ father reading the newspaper in an attempt at shutting himself off from his boisterous daughters’ romance related drama, I remember my own father reading the newspaper on Sunday mornings in winter end-to-end, on the lawn under a green and white striped garden umbrella signifying his day off from kamjari (estate work). I would wait impatiently to get my hands on the paper to see the page that featured a pen-and-ink drawing by Rathin Mitra, of some glorious colonial structure in Calcutta. Intricate and gloriously detailed, these images would awe me and I couldn’t imagine how a person had manually drawn those clean straight lines. He even inspired me to make something in his style (a highly impoverished version) of the tea bungalow we lived in at the time, which my brother used in his very elaborate school project on tea (a masterpiece in itself considering the tantrums and numerous garden visits it entailed). I’m sure my mother has that stored somewhere in her many boxes, but I sadly have lost my cutouts of Rathin Mitra’s beautiful art. This would be a good time to kick self in the behind.
Another illustrator and cartoonist that I adored was Mario Miranda. If you think you haven’t seen something by either of these artists, you’re wrong. Especially if you grew up reading The Telegraph or Times of India. One look at their work and memories will come flooding back. Here are some Mario Miranda favourites:
He also illustrated this hilarious book on parenting. A must read 😉
These sepia toned memories seem like a different world. A world without Internet, mobile phones, cable tv, Harry Potter or the microwave :P. Frightening, isn’t it? But get this. It was also a world without Edward Cullen or better still Bold & Beautiful cause all us Indians could watch was our one and only DD. Which means no inspiration for the ensuing K serial bandwagon either. We would watch Jaspal Bhatti’s antics, Buniyaad, Surabhi and Hum Log on weekdays and Poirot and Jeeves & Wooster every Sunday. Hai hai. Wait. No Kim K feed? I have to rethink this…
I leave you with this song to enjoy 🙂
Happa Davalla folks!