1997, August 2nd. That was the day I turned 21. Seems like a lifetime ago. 20 years ago —– almost 21 years ago; man has it been that long? I had to go and check up and see what I did for my 21st birthday because I wasn’t blogging at the time. I only started blogging in 2002 and only became aware of blogs in 2000! See how useful blogs are?
1997 means I was studying at NIIT and having a really good time with the friends I made over there. This must also have been around the time that my cousins from Scotland came to stay in my grandmother’s hometown for a long summer vacation. I cannot remember if they came before or after my birthday though.
I kinda think I spent my birthday alone at home or went out for some beer. I think it’s the latter. I think my next birthday was at my grandmother’s house and we had some snacks or something. 21 was real mellow.
So a couple of weeks ago I wrote about this girl from my school, Maryam, 2 years younger than me. I would like to share another incident from that time. During my 9th grade (or 9th standard as we call it) I was selected to be in a play for the school’s annual day celebrations. The play was called Dearly Departed about a grandfather whose two granddaughters think he has passed away (he is in reality only just in a deep sleep) and they and their husbands start fighting over his belongings and property. There is also a small girl in the character list, daughter of of the granddaughters.
So I was to play the role of the grandfather and hence for most of the play I was in the sidelines, which suited me fine. I am only in for the last 1/3rd of the play when I finally wake up from my sleep and the little girl sees this and goes to tell her mother, father, aunt and uncle but they don’t pay attention to her or see him until he comes down the stairs. I see the family fighting over my stuff and blast them for it. I then go on to announce that I have met an elderly widow who I have fallen in love with and I am getting married to her and my estate will be going to her in case I die first.
The play is mostly funny but there is a scene in which one of the grandaughters, played by Maryam is supposed to check on me while I speak and hold my wrist, to check my pulse. During rehearsals it was supposed to be just a metaphoric holding of my wrist but she came and actually held my hand and I yelled out in jest “Let go of my hand woman!” to which everyone else in the play including the teachers started laughing but Maryam was embarrassed and ran away crying. My teachers admonished me (though not sternly as they were still laughing) and made me go and apologize and bring her back.
Have you ever worked in sales? Tell us your best story about that job!
When I started my career in the BPO industry and worked in the call center at Aspin Wall, it was all pure sales. We mostly did cold calling and it was all lower end sales like credit cards and online supermarket credit cards. The credit cards, which I did a lot during my 7 months working there, was mostly of a lower amount and it was usually to people who had been rejected for a higher value credit card.
Therefore it was quite disheartening to get rejections for sales but then it was mostly cold calls. We’d get abused, called racist terms but some were good calls. I used the name Jeff Steven but stopped after a month as twice I ran into funny calls : one women asked “isn’t that a girl’s name?” because she heard Jess and another lady heard it as Cat Stevens. We bought laughed at that one.
I then changed it to Jeremy Stevens which was much better. My favourite sales was when we did sales for Sprint PCS and I called this single mother, African-American, and she kept calling me “sir” and was desperate for three phones (all Nokia) and the plan we offered. I made that sale and was toasted as it was 3 phones in one sale.
Nostalgic musings and thoughts meandering to my teenage years and all the things I have done and been part of. And also the feelings I had around those times. I recently posted about my very first crush for a girl, two years my senior. Well let me tell you about this girl who had a sort of crush on me and who I also kinda liked.
She was in the 7th grade when I was in the 9th grade. Her name was Maryam and she was from a Muslim family. Her parents were ultra strict with her but not with regards to religion or religious upbringing. Infact, in hindsight, her family must seem quite modern to most now. They were very strict with her studies and things like that. So they had no television and no games and no radio! This is the 1990! Her family were well off enough to afford a couple of tvs and a few radios and walkman but she and her younger sister were forbidden to have them at home.
Nothing to interfere with the wholehearted & steadfast approach to gaining the best marks in school (and I suppose college after that). If she didn’t finish 1st or 2nd in the monthly tests that we had in school, you could be sure that she would be on leave the next day. Why? Because her parents would beat her with a cane and she would fall sick and cry a lot.
In 1989 I met this girl named Sofia who had just moved to my school. She was a class ahead of me but about 2 years older. She had fair skin, curly brown hair and she was tall. Taller than me too! But I had this magnificent crush on her. Probably my first real crush. I remember all those feelings I had for this girl. And it was love at first sight for me. I remember I had just turned 12 and I met her as she was one of the new girls in the school where boys to girls ratio was around 5:1.
I was in the 8th grade and she was in the 9th, so I was 13 and she was 15 at the time. She never talked to many folks at the school which made it hard for me to muster up the courage to go and talk to her but I got a chance when I was picked to be part of this choir / group singing thing for our school’s annual day celebrations and so for 2 months I was with her during the practice hour each day. I even managed to ask her for her number and spoke to her a few times.
Ofcourse nothing came of it and she told me that I was younger than her and so it wasn’t something she would be interested in. I wasn’t very heartbroken or anything really as she soon left the school (no idea why) and I lost touch. About 5 years later I saw her while I was waiting for the bus and shouted her name and she smiled in recognition and that was the only other time I have ever seen her. I used to have the song Street of Dreams by Rainbow as “our” song and I would play this song and imagine it was me singing to her, while she danced around me in a white sweater and a grey skirt! I remember it so well even it was almost 30 years ago!!!
I can remember a couple – one might be at 3 years old or so. I am not sure exactly what happened but I think that I was playing with some other kids in the apartment building that we lived in back in Kuwait and I must have fallen down the steps or something and cut my head. I know I was bleeding and probably crying a lot and the memory I have is of me crying and falling asleep on my dad’s shoulder and he carried me and I had a Kitkat bar in my hand.
I will always keep the Kitkat as a chocolate bar of my kiddie days due to this memory but it’s not something that I feel is absolutely correct as I can see the scene as if I were watching it from an outsider’s point of view. Although, I could have been looking back at me and my dad through a mirror but I doubt it. It’s probably my recollection is slightly suspect because hey I was 3 and I am now 41.
Something that is more lucid is what I normally would say is my earliest memory and I remember it well. I was a small kid and walked into the kitchen of the little apartment where we lived. My mom was cooking dinner and I had come in specifically to ask her a question “Mummy, how old am I?” She replied that I was about to turn 4 years old!! And so my earliest clear (as crystal) memory is at the age of 4, asking my mom how old I was.
Boston Video Library is one of the biggest nostalgia places for me from my mid teens to my mid 20s. The business no longer exists and while that is a sign of the times, it still remains to this day a reminder of simpler and good times. They had two branches – the first and original one was in Mattancherry, very close to my grandmother’s house. This was the place we got introduced to them. My cousins and I would go there during the summer vacations and select a couple of movies ever 2 days and watch them together during the evenings.
The second one is more special for one of my cousins and me. This branch was in a small business enclave in Convent Junction, Ernakulam meaning I didn’t have to go as far to rent movies. This branch was run by the youngest son of the business family that owned Boston Video Library but their main business was import of coir. Now, why the name Boston if they are from India, you say? Well I asked them that once and they told me that the very first international order they got was from a company in Boston and hence they named their next venture, the video libraries, after that city.
My cousin and I would spend many hours at the Ernakulam branch as we were pally with the younger son, Paresh, who was just a few years older than us. I remember when I was ill once and restricted to my bed, I would call in advance for selecting a few movies and Paresh would get them ready for me. A driver who chauffeured my dad would pick them up for me. Same after my operation in 1997. I watched so many movies from these guys. It’s part of my childhood and my early 20s. I will always miss the stores.
Once upon a time, not so long ago we used to watch movies on VHS tapes that you insert into a VCR. Ooooh, aaah! Nostalgia unbound. I used to go to a couple in particular for many years and two other for a couple of years in between. All have closed many years ago. The two older ones I or my family had membership in was one at Abad Plaza and another at Palarivattom but I think I only went there a few times.
The other two were Boston Video Library, which had two outlets – one in Mattancherry near my grandmother’s house and where we cousins spent a lot of our summer and other holidays in and another one in Convent Junction, which is closer to my current residence and the one I used to go to more regularly as it was also closer to my old house. The second video library, which for the life of me I cannot remember the name of, was was also in Mattancherry and again within walking distance from my grandma’s house. So we would choose between these two libraries when we stayed in Mattancherry and selected a few movies every couple of days to watch as a group of cousins.
VHS has long lost it’s appeal to me. I had several movies and some tv shows on VHS which we bought as blank tapes and then recorded from Kuwaiti tv and, once we moved to India, on Indian television. Movies, tv show episodes, music videos, football matches and tennis matches as well. The odd special event like an Olympic games opening ceremony or two. I’m glad we have moved onto dvd & blu-rays as the VHS tapes seem ancient by now, bulky and bad in comparison but when it was the only option back then, it was fun.
And the dreaded VCR – oh how many VHS tapes did my old VCR eat! I had two that I remember and both were hungry at times.
What Places Do You Remember Fondly From Childhood?
From Kuwait, I definitely remember the Kuwait Towers and Entertainment City. The latter was a child’s delight with all their games, Ferris wheel, log rides, so many arcade games and lots of other cool stuff. I don’t remember much about the Kuwait Towers except that during the only visit that I had, we had lunch on the revolving restaurant and that height and the experience, it was a lot of fun for a 10 year old.
Oh and I can’t forget Safeway! Yeah, especially because they had a toy section with comics as well and I loved spending a lot of time there. I also remember they had a lot of candy and chocolates and I bought a bunch of them the last two times we left Kuwait for India. I loved the ride to Safeway and back.
In India, it’s always my grandma’s house during summer with my cousins, Boston video library, Atlantic Records, Cool of Cools, Fort Kochi beach and Periyar river. Good times!
What is your most vivid memory of the kitchen in your childhood?
That is a tough one. I honestly am not sure and cannot pinpoint a single memory about the kitchen that was in the apartment my parents, my sister and I lived in during our time in Kuwait. I was born in Kuwait City and lived there till I was almost 11 years old and then moved to India.
I guess during those years I associate the kitchen with tuna – odd choice, maybe? But I and my family love tuna. We lightly fry them and ate them in sandwiches with a little cheese. Or even some as a side to rice and curry. Them and fish fingers which were another favourite of my family. Mom cooked some up that you got in that box and she gave them to us as a snack and dad loved it too.
For other reasons I also associate that kitchen with eggs – omelets, scrambled, hard boiled or bullseyes – and Hungry Bunny burger patties, which you bought frozen and cooked in a pan. Man, those were the days.
I’m a big fan of science fiction movies and I love the Planet of the Apes franchise. Classic scifi that started in 1968 and they are really awesome. Here is my ranking of the 9 movies that they have made (including the two reboots). They even had two series based on the original movies but I haven’t watched them yet.
Planet of the Apes (1968 )
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Yeah on the whole, I think Tim Burton’s attempt at a reboot was probably the weakest try but Battle is almost unwatchable. I still find it hard to watch that in my rewatch cycles (every 3 years or so.
I was going through some old photos that I had uploaded in one of my Flickr accounts. My first Flickr account actually. I had uploaded pics from my Motorola Razor and then my Blackberry Curves and Blackberry Bold in it. I spent a good hour going through those pics and they brought a smile to my face. I’ve decided to showcase some of those pics here (though I may have posted them in my old Blogspot blog).
First up is an odd to an iconic beer – the Kingfisher. Granted that they are no longer my first choice when it comes to beer (or second or third or ….6th even) but they are still an icon. I spent many years drinking these beers until we started getting the Carlsbergs, Tuborgs, Millers and Heinekens. Nowadays I only drink Kingfisher if there are no other options left but still, I do value them. Here are two pics I took back in 2006.
What was your favorite book as a child? If you have kids, do your children love it as much as you did?
I don’t think I had one favourite book as a kid. I read a lot and I read a lot of books. I read Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Archies, Super hero – DC & Marvel and a lot of Indrajal comics (Phantom, Mandrake, Dick Kirby etc) and a bunch of others. Among my favourites were Nancy Drew, The Famous Five and the Hardy Boys books. Those were cool for that age man. I wouldn’t want to read them now as I would find them boring now; but as a kid those stories was awesome.
There is one more such teenage detective story series but the name escapes me. I remember reading a few of their books as well and enjoyed them as well. Actually, now that I recall there was one book which I read over and over again. That would be Robinson Crusoe! I remember devouring that book – with images and dialogue bubbles as well – and atleast 20 or more times. I dunno why but that story spoke to me.
From the same publishers I also got The Prisoner of Zenda and that too was a book I read a lot from the age of 8 to 12. Enjoyable as heck!
What was your life like when you were ten years old?
Let’s 10 years old means August 2, 1986 to August 1, 1987. I was still living in Kuwait with dad and mom when I turned 10. That would be my final year living in that country before we moved to India for good. I had joined a new school, New Indian School, for the 5th grade and that was a different experience too. Because classes started at 12 pm and ended at 6 pm. Plus they segregated the girls and the boys – the girls came at 6am and were never in the same classes as the guys.
That was weird especially since I came from Carmel school for grades KG till the 4th grade where girls were a majority. In fact in the 4th grade, it was 6 boys versus 40 girls or something like that. From that to just other boys in the class was a bit strange but at that age, none of us cared. We talked about….stuff that boys at the age of 10 talk about (so far back that I can’t remember) and our fav tv shows and sports. The World Cup in Mexico was in 1986 and we were all mesmerized by Diego Maradonna.
I watched my fav cartoons and tv shows. I played football with my friends. At my building I would play board games and video games with my friends who lived there. We bought candy and soft drinks and collected comics. All the things a 10 year should be doing. Those were simpler and happier times.
I will be honest. I learned about sex and the female form when I was 12 years old. A guy who joined my school and my class in 7th grade and who was about a year older than me and most of my other friends, showed us how to smoke and while we were smoking during the recess period, he also showed us a nudie magazine that he had brought to school with him.
That was the first time that I can ever remember ever seeing images of a woman naked. This was new territory for me to explore. I learned about the wonderful world of breasts and asses and sexy looking women with their vaginas on display. This was exciting and what was that weird feeling growing hard between my legs? A few of us ogled over the images and discussed what we saw and knew (which was very little) and in our minds we dreamed. I would never look at women the same way again.
This would lead to me watching my first few soft porn films with some friends and also getting my first nude film. This was pre-internet ofcourse so it was hard to sneak it in. But yeah the fascnination still continues to this day all these years later.
When was the last time you received a handwritten letter?
A handwritten letter? Whaat? Using a pen (or a pencil if you are a small kid) and writing on a paper, getting hand cramps and then taking an envelope, folding the paper and sticking the letter into it, sealing the envelope and then finding the appropriate stamp to stick on the right hand corner and then going to a letter box or the post office and then putting it there so a postal worker can sort it out and then deliver it to the person you want to read it? Why waste all that time when you can just email them?
I guess it was sometime during the late 1999 or 2000. I don’t remember ever sending a handwritten letter since then. I had a bunch of penpals that I got from a rock magazine in India as well as from chatting online. Internet connections were quite expensive back then, so I only went online for a few hours a week at an internet cafe and chatted a lot on IRC. I made a bunch of friends – none of whom lasted for more than a couple of years – and as I didn’t have internet at home, I exchanged letters. I usually got a few from the Phillippines, Malaysia, Canada, The US, this one chick in the Azores and one hot girl in Finland.
I exchanged letters with the latter two, more so with the Portuguese chick who became very demanding and that I make myself available online at certain times. Which was difficult as I had to make sure I was free and got to a cafe ontime. The Finn was cool and free with me and she sent me some very tasty photos along with her letters. I shall leave it at that.