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.
Let me first say, like I have said before, that until about 15 years ago we had a lot of schools in India that finished high school at the 10th grade (so age 15 or 16 for some) and you did your 11th & 12th, called pre-degree, in a college before you went for a degree. In the central syllabus schools they did 11th & 12th in a school itself. Later that model would be adopted across the nation. So my summer after high school was a full 3 months (maybe a little more) in the year 1992 after my 10th grade.
After saying bye to my friends, I wanted to stay in at home or go out with my cousins. But I started missing my buddies really badly in a few days. I joined a 2 month basic computer course in DataPro. I was restless and needed something to keep me occupied and make new friends as well. Besides it was only a couple of hours a day, 4 days a week. So this 2 month course at DataPro seemed like a good option and I had fun there. I got fascinated by computers as well and during my lab hours I would try to make colourful images on MsPaint. Remember that this was back in the Windows 3.x years. I even remember on seeing my designs, a manager of the institute asked me to try designing for sarees!
I remember these two very gorgeous girls who were in my classes at Datapro. Their names were Zeena and Geena D’Couto and they were fraternal twins. And my eye was on Zeena but Geena was hot too. I spent much time with them and in the afternoons I would go to the record store nearby and go through the various album releases and check out some of the music at the store. Ofcourse I also went to various places visiting relatives. Those were good times.
When I was 15 years old I had to beg my parents to let me go on the class X two day trip. The reason they didn’t want me to go was that the trip was to Kodaikannal and it being a cold hill station and during the peak season when it was the coldest in that area, they were afraid that I would have an asthma problem. I was able to convince them that it would be alright and as that was my last year in the school, I really wanted to have these memories with my school buddies and my teachers.
So I finally was given the go ahead and the next day I went and registered for the trip and paid my charges for the trip. The best thing was that all my classmates were going on the trip and we had two of our favourite teachers with us. We left on a Friday evening and reached Kodaikannal by the next day morning. We had a blast taking in the scenery, buying the small knick-knacks and knock off cheap touristy souvenirs and stuff. We had some fun riding boats and riding horses and I took a lot of photos.
The evening before we were to leave we had a bunch of singing and mimicry and all fun stuff and though I did have a bit of an asthma problem, it went by quickly and didn’t cause me much comfort. It was one of the best weekends I can ever remember having.The down side – we came back on Sunday night, the next day was a holiday for us kids from our school to give us time to rest. My family was waiting for me and we went out for dinner with a few of my relatives. I ate some good Chinese food but the trip took it’s toll on me and late at night I woke up and puked my guts out. Whew! I remember being so tired after that.
Street of Dreams is the first single from the band Rainbow’s Bent Out of Shape album released in 1983 and was a big hit and a long time favourite for fans. I was about 12 in 1988 when a friend of my sister from her college gave me a compilation/biggest hits of Rainbow songs. I don’t remember if this was an official release or one of those tapes we used to get from Hong Kong or Japan.
Anyways, this song was a big favourite of mine from the time I heard it. My sister’s friend was a rocker chick who had a ton of great albums from really cool 70s & 80s bands and even had some VHS tapes filled with rock band music videos. I can’t remember her name though. But I remember I got introduced to bands like Rainbow, Deep Purple and a few others through her collection.
Back to the song, in 1988 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 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!!!
This song is special for me. When the album Yield came out in 1998, I was going through a rough personal time. When was the last time I had a fine personal time? Anyways, I was about 21 not yet 22, and I saw that the album was out in record stores here in Kochi, India. I bought my tape and went home. Post dinner and it must have been around 10pm when I finally settled down in my bedroom. Sometime later I put the cassette in my stereo system and listened to the album for the first time.
Just before In Hiding came on, I fell asleep and woke up at around 2 am, I woke up again. I decided to play the album again at this song and the lyrics hit me deep. According to Eddie Vedder, the song lyrically was inspired by the work of Charles Bukowski, who often locked himself way for long periods of time so he could work in absolute solitude. “It’s about taking a fast from life,” Eddie Vedder has said. “Doing anything to get yourself back in touch with something real.”
I felt that the lyrics meant that the protagonist was in hiding from society, from family, from friends because he wasn’t happy with several things about life and therefore he decided to become a recluse for a bit. I felt really sad at that time and started tearing up listening to the song, which I ended up playing several times over the next few days. It has remained a strong favourite since then.
The main time that I remember having been the new kid was in grade 6. I had moved with my family from Kuwait to India and we settled in Cochin. A whole different country – well since I and my family are Indian it should not matter at all. But then I was born and raised in Kuwait till the age of 11 and it was a different experience for me – not as different as say a Western nation and then coming to India – but still it was a change.
I was in a new school and country and I stood out for a while. I was the only one who could not read & right the local language, Malayalam. So I was put in a different class for the second language as the school system has “Special English” for out of state students. You studied English & Hindi with everyone else and then the four to five of us who couldn’t read or write Malayalam went to sit in a smaller class room with a teacher who took additional classes for us but they were in English. And it was fun.
But I made friends quickly and within a few weeks I was fast friends with a bunch of guys and girls who I still keep in touch with even now (30 years later) albeit on Facebook.