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.
What Old, Worn Out Thing Can You Just Not Part With?
I do have a problem in throwing out stuff. Just look at the keyboard drawer of my desk (where I do not have a keyboard since I use a laptop) where I have a bunch of old, used batteries. For no reason that I can think off, I just haven’t gotten around to get rid of these. Not that I like them or have a connection with them. I just procrastinate or am plain lazy.
But some thing or some things that I just cannot part with? Some old diaries/journals. In a physical form. For a sentimental reason I just cannot bring myself to get rid of them. Even if some of them are torn and worn out. Even if there is a musty smell from some of them. Even if it has been 25 years in one case or 18 years in others. Geeze! I have kept journals/diaries since I was 15-16. Though I didn’t write in it everyday.
Just looking back at my thoughts and ideas and what I considered to be important back then is a rush of nostalgia for me. In some cases I have a few photos as well. At one point when I was 21, back in 1997, I was at home for 5 weeks recovering post a surgery and all I posted in my journal at the time was the songs and albums that I listened to each day as I was mostly resting in my bedroom and couldn’t go out much and the tv was downstairs. But I find it fun to go through those pages.
Do you remember your first sip of alcohol? Of any kind? This is irrespective of whether you are a drinker now or if you don’t indulge at all.
When I was 15 I drank some whiskey by accident. I had just come back from school and I had changed my clothes as I was going out with an uncle to pick up by dad at the railway station. So I got ready and came down and just before we left, I rushed to the fridge and grabbed a bottle to drink some cold water, opened it and poured some down my throat – only to spit it out!
You see it wasn’t water but whiskey! I felt the burning sensation as it hit my tongue and throat and out came everything. The reason I took that bottle by mistake was we had this rather looking whiskey bottle which had a cork instead of a regular bottle cap. Once the bottle was empty of whiskey my mother had rinsed it out and washed it thoroughly and we used to keep it our fridge filled with water. It was my favourite bottle to drink water from as I rather liked the cork style bottles.
The culprit was my uncle who had come in my home that morning with a brand new bottle of the same distillery. He meant to keep it for my dad but also had a little himself in the afternoon while he was visiting with my mom, his sister. The rest he meant to keep it for dad. And I hadn’t noticed that there were two same bottles in the fridge and picked the one that I saw and got a nasty surprise. And that’s how I had my first taste of alcohol!