Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Eighties Girl


The year when my life and India's destiny changed forever.

Baba was allotted a government quarter in Minto Road, Delhi. The people staying there were rather ordinary. Middle class. Warm. Friendly. They came from different parts of India. Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Punjab and Bihar. A kind of mini India. I made friends with a girl from UP. Do you want to play?" was the first question asked. Who asked? Who answered? All we knew was that by the end of the day, we had formed a deep friendship. I stayed in that government colony for more than 10 years. The friends I made then are still my lifeline.

That was also the year Sanjay Gandhi died. We did not really care about politics, my friends and I. But we did hear some snippets of adult conversation. Emergency. Turkman Gate. RajivGandhi. Only later we knew how important these words were to our country.


It was the year of love. Sapna and Vasu. Bunty and Pinky. Charles and Diana. I fell a little bit in love with Kumar Gaurav. My mother refused to let me see Love Story the second time because she thought I might get ideas and elope with someone. I was so upset that I locked myself in. My mother broke open the door and spanked me. I was angry, tearful, dejected. Back in 1981, my mother was all powerful. And I was not even thirteen.


That was the year of excitement. Asiad was the hot topic. Appu was the lovable mascot. And Doordarshan was changing colours. From a drab black and white, we went shocking pink .Bright blue. Dark green. Deep orange. The experts had yet to figure out how to control the colours and contrasts. Or perhaps like little kids, they also got a little carried away seeing all the colourful possibilities. For whatever reasons, our eyes had to undergo a lot of trauma. The TV set was manufactured by the Electronics Corporation of India. It took ages to switch on. We waited with bated breath to see the first flicker of colour. There was also no remote. Did we care?


A year of possibilities. A car that was mass produced, transformed our roads. A frozen frame showed the reigning screen god's brush with death. And a cheeky, spunky devil from Haryana lifted the World Cup. The initial matches were considered so insignificant, India's chances were considered so remote that we did not even send a camera crew. But for the semi final and final, we were glued to the TV. Occasionally we lost signal from London. Occasionally the pictures were grainy, but we saw our men, who dared to dream, finally lift that huge cup. '83 was the year we started believing in ourselves. We believed we could buy a car. We believed we could fight death and emerge victorious. We believed we could beat West Indies in cricket and be world champions....well, may be that was still, a little bit unbelievable.


If the previous year had hope, this one had tragedy. Starting with my board exams in March. The syllabus was humongous. There were too many subjects. But who said the life was easy? To celebrate the end of the boards, my parents took us to Srinagar. And then the nightmare began.

The Indian Army stormed the Golden Temple. Curfew was imposed and we were stranded in the Jammu- Punjab border. 5 days of living on the roads. Extreme heat. No food. No doctors, (we all got heat stroke) and most important, no bathrooms anywhere. I wonder whether the young people who have grown up taking for granted ATMs and credit cards, cell phones and internet, ACs and plane travelling, will ever be able to fathom the trauma my father went through when his money ran out. He was a long way from home and he did not know when this would end. After 5 gruelling days we managed to reach Delhi and found it simmering with resentment. The same year in October, Indira Gandhi was gunned down. And the city I loved, burst into flames. From our 7 storey building, we saw the red sky. Heard horrific news of the riots. The schools and colleges shut down. Young boys like my brother, patrolled the colony at night to stop possible rioters. The immense love and respect Hindus and Sikhs had for each other, was gone in a heart beat. Sanity took a long time to return.


We saw Ravi Shastri driving his Champion of champions' prize on the huge Sidney cricket ground that year. His team mates had crammed into the car. Some were also on top. It felt like we were taking that victory lap ourselves. The first world cup win was considered to be a fluke and that year we felt vindicated. That was the year we heard about a car called Audi for the first time.


A year of growing up. That was the year I went to college. The difference between the claustrophobic school and the fun loving college was palpable. New environment, new teachers and new friends. The year's chart buster was "That's what friends are for" and we could not have enough of the song. This year we also saw the Challenger space shuttle burst into flame and the vivid, horrifying image stayed in our minds for a long time.


That year, every Sunday morning at 9.30, the whole of India came to a virtual stop. We made it a point to sit in front of our neighbour's TV (most of India were still to acquire one) and watched Ramayan. The roads were deserted. Trains, buses and taxis stopped running. People rescheduled their appointments and all of us caught the Ramayana fever.

A year we learnt 2 Russian words. Glasnost and Perestroika.


My brother could not stop raving about the young girl who danced to a strange song that went like Ek Do Teen... For one full day, he lost his ability to speak and went mooney eyed on us. He would lie down and stare at the ceiling and sigh once in a while. I kind of empathized with him since I felt a bit like that for a young actor who was playing the role of a Fauji in a serial of the same name.

That year, I also went to Rajasthan with my college friends, my first trip without my family. Has there been any other state with so much history, art, colours and passion? Not in my eyes.


A year of filling up forms for higher studies. A year of contemplation. A year of sitting down with friends and family to decide on a career path. There were so many avenues, so many options. We saw the Berlin wall fall and realized impossible could happen. We saw the gutsy students protest at the Tiananmen Square and felt bravery could come in many forms.

That was the year I finally grew up.

I know this has been a long post. But I had to write this one when Blunt Edges said “So you belong to THAT generation?". Yes I do. Those were the days my friend... I also could not resist putting this video clip here. I do not know how many of you will have the patience to see this one. Those of you, who do, let me know how many faces you recognized. They were the faces of the eighties.....


SJ said...

I honestly want to read this post its long and I have some other school crap to do. Will come back later. damn school.

Mustaf said...


This was such a nice,cute and sweet post. Even though I am much younger than you and nineties might be more suitable for me than eightiesbut I could connect to it 1984 onwards, I was 5 then. We were visiting Delhi,Jaipur,Agra that time and precisely on that day we just reached Delhi.I still remember we all survivied on bread and egg omlet for 3-4 days!!

1987 I very much remember for Ramayana. We didn't have our own tv, so morning we would go to a neighrbour's place, spend the entire day, in the evening my parents will also come for the weekly Bengali movie, it was a regular family outing..

Sorry, your post was such that I just ended up sharing up some of my own experiences before realizing.And can i include myself into THAT generation or am i bit late :P?

Diwakar Sinha said...

okay, it may have been long..but it was just equally interesting.
i am surprised that you remember all this by the year..i have seen the video before..may years ago actually, on doordarshan. :)

P said...

this was lovely flashback! I was too little to have registered most of it but reminiscing is fun! :)

And I really look forward to ur posts... long or short! So do write more often!

I actually counted.... recognized 8 of them... don't ask me their names though!!

Apanatva said...

wow what memory Aparna .Nostelgic post .

gujra vakt vapas nahee aata bus yade rah jaatee hai

nice post

ZB said...

this is a lovely post. Great to know ur life then.....i dont remember much before 1985, being too small, but 1987 is a memorable year- i lost my mother that year. GREAT Post.

Sumit Pratap Singh said...

सन्देश अच्छा लगा...

Kavi said...

That was a well documented past ! And all of our pasts are so intricately woven between what happens in the public sphere and what happens in the personal space !

Your post brings that back to the fore !

Neha said...

you took me down the memory lane of my own childhood...i was born in the year 1982 - december month, and mum told me that we had got a colour tv in 1983 just for watching the world cup...so the moment the cricket match used to start or an advertisement came, i used to stop crying, and the moment a serial start, mera rona shuru...and ramayana shooting dekhna was a kinda routine for me and my friends as it was shot at umbergaon, my hometown...

see this is what happens with the posts related to our childhood and past...we start with our own stories and forget to mention about the post...very neat and crisp write up...will surely check the video soon, net connection is a bit slow at the moment...:)

Gayathri said...

Interesting !! :)i dun rem 90s half as much as u do ur 80s!

Onkar said...

You have captured the essence of those years very well in a style which is your own.

Soumyaranjan Dash said...

A nice description of 80s! Lovable and free flowing!

Jaadi said...

lovely post..enjoyed every moment reading and reliving those days

SJ said...

Oh my! I don't remember half the things that happened in my childhood within the family let alone India and rest of the world. I remember ramayana thatd abt it!

Sharmila said...

Hmm .... nostalgia. I recognised Satish shah and was that Neena Gupta at the table? A few other faces are familiar but can't name them. :-)

Kavita Saharia said...

APARNA...I relate to this post ditto.OMG,remember those pants Kumar Gaurav wore and the scene where he pokes Vijyeta's ball with his knife,the crowd went crazy...i had this argument with my mom over Ek Duje Ke Liye...Do you remember Washing powder nirma ?Kitu Gidwani flaunting her beautiful hairs in Halo add and so on....GOOD OLD DAYS

About this video ...Papa gifted me a LP(record player)of this movie as i was crazy about it..

Ava said...

What a lovely nostalgic post. 80s were so momentous. I was in my 20s then but I remember all these events like it was yesterday.

That EC TV. Telecast would start at 6 pm n we would switch the TV on at 5.45 because it took so long. Right at the start there were cartoon shorts for 5 mins or so.. Barba Papa and Mole stories.

I long for those days. They were fun.

Sakshi said...

First thing first! I recognized Satish Shah minus his belly, Neena Gupta minus her huge Bindhi, Rakesh whatever and of course Farooq sheikh and Deepti Naval....I loved this movie and still watch all the 80's hits. Ohh I fell in love with Kumar Gaurav in the 90's after watching his love story for the first time :). Had made a mental note then that I would fall in love with a guy who would run around a camp singing Yeh ladki zarasi...(yeah we run around camps but the song that is more apt now is Main teri dushman)

I remember my elder cousins telling me passionately about their first darshan of colourful Doordarshan...they still vouch for the fact that it was the best colour for eyes :(

Ahh I hope you are talking abt Maruti 800? Our family still has one of those first ones to roll out on Indian roads. It's white and polished almost on a daily basis by the car fanatics in the family.

Aww 1984 description gives me the shudders..too many innocent blood spilt in the name of religion and politics.

Ramayana hmmm my mom used to tell me that the family demanded I should be put to sleep before the serial started as I was always asking questions throughout the show and hiding hawaii chappals of everyone who came to watch it!!

Loved this beautiful post of glimpses of the 80's...I love the 80's for all the mushy romantic movies too.

Btw according to my cousins there was an unfortunate catastrophe of an event in our very own family in the 80's - Sakshi was born in the 80's :)

Roshni said...

wow! That's just amazing that you have such a fabulous memory! I never did know till now when Ramayan started and yet, I was also the same generation that watched each and every episode!! Cool!!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Loved going down memory lane. Strange how the same things impacted all of us, wherever we lived. Although my memories of personal independence would begin a few years later, so many emotions are the same.

Meira said...

Awesome post . And the song is lovely. I was born in 83 and hardly remember the first 4-5 years of my life. All I was bothered about was food and sleep!

BK Chowla, said...

Excellent post.I am able to appreciate the events year wise,as I have gone throgh the events during those years.But,those were exciting days.

sujata sengupta said...

loved the flashback and the video, i rem most of 80s but a bit hazy with years and dates, 90s is quite eventless compared na?

ani_aset said...

This was nicely done aparna :) i can see your love for cricket..being born in 81 i first started watching cricket in 87...watching ramayana on sundays, something i still remember...somebody loooves fauji haan ;)

Zeba said...

Wow. Just wow. Loved the post. Felt as though I was time travelling. You must be real proud of belonging to THAT generation. I see MY generation has missed out on a lot of things..

Ajit Ray said...

Must say you have a really good memory, quite contrary to what you tried to project in your earlier whatchamaccalit post... :)

nsiyer said...

Loved the post. Amazing. I could recognise most of the faces, and it was nostalgic. Many of them have changed a lot today.

Unknown said...

Aparnadi, this was indeed a perfect read. Even though I am much younger to you, born in the nineties but I could connect with everything you have mentioned right from the start. Must say, you provided me with the richest reading experience out of all blogs I've come across.

Sumandebray said...

Wow! those were the days!
Even my first board exams... tryst with the ralisity ... was in 84.... Sunny seems to have gone unnoticed. I remember watching Betab soon after the exams were over.
I know Kumar Gaurav had recieved a warm welcome from the ladies in the theatre ... as his airplane lowered on the herd and the camera focused on his face all we could hear was ooooowuuuoo and all that in female voices!
And it was soon after "Rocky" had bombed and I still remember Sanjay Dutt's reactive statement ... God is so cruel"

OMG.... it was like my chilhood days running past in front of my eyes.... so much happened in that decade

SG said...

Nice post. Those were the (good old) days.

SG said...

A lovely stroll down memory lane!

G S Pillai said...

Hi Aparna,

What kind of mood might you be in, to want to put all that down?

I was moved by your being stranded on the Jammu-Punjab border. Hopefully the times were safer then for a stranded family than now

I loved the reference to Perestroika and Glasnost.

Wonder why would you remember the Audi car. Thought you were not one to drool after cars. (That's a male thing, I remember you saying)

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Nona said...

It was a very beautiful post and evoking all kind of emotions in the 80's boys too. :)

You have touched upon all the important events in that decade. If I have to reply, then I need a longer post than yours. :)

Thanks a bunch for waking up old memories. :)

Aparna said...

Hey SJ, welcome back! I think you concentrated on school and college so much that you forgot about everything else. When are you planning to join us back full time?

Hi Mustaf, you were in Delhi in '84? That was a scary time. You can not really call yourself a '80s boy if you were just 5 years old in '84. But I really feel the '80s were more happening than the '90s.

Hi Diwakar,those were such exciting days, I remember a lot of these events. I did not include many things as the post was becoming too long.

Hi P, you counted? I remember their names. They were the TV actors and actresses of the '80s. The song was fun, wasn't it?

Hi Apnatva, true, memories are all powerful. Though we may not have the days back, remembering those good old days is fun indeed.

Hi ZB, thanks a lot. The '80s was a charming decade. India changed suddenly and we were lucky to have witnessed it. When are you coming back to blogging?

Sumit Tomar, thank you.

Thanks Kavi,it was not difficult at all to weave the global/national events with my personal life. What happened outside was what shaped us those days. I am wondering whether you are a '90s man...as you are so quiet on the happenings of those days.

Hi Neha, the Ramayan shooting happened in your home town? Thats interesting. Do see the video. It is funny, the song.

Hi Gayatri, I am sure if you sit down to write, you will remember a lot about the '90s as well, or the 2000s.

Hello Onkar, thank you.I am glad you liked the post.

Swatantra said...

That's a lovely post.. You have an amazing memory and well documented like fitted in boxes..

The video is also well linked..

wanderlust said...

Wow Aparna, you've brought back all those lovely memories!
I still get goosebumps thinking of Ravi Shastri and his Audi. That victory lap with all of them atop that car is still so fresh as if I had seen it jusy yesterday.

Fauji and Cicus, never imagined I would slowly start hating the hero :-)

AnjuGandhi said...

my God!!!!!! this post reminded me of my old days in Delhi, words like Minto Road,Kumar gaurav ( i saw his love story 5 times, all the times by bunking my offce) Turkman Gate refreshed the memories of my first Job after my post graduation, Asiad --- we went to see the full dress rehearsal .
i can just go on and on but thanx for reviving my old memories
regarding shifting to wordpress it is not that i am not happy with blogspot, the only thing is they support the reply facility of each comment. but I still have my roots here so never know may come back to it soon
but do visit me there

Unknown said...

1985 - i was born, so cannot relate totally to what u have written. but given a chance, wud love to go bk and see for myself the DD generation! :) though i know hw ramayan and mahabharat had ruled our nation.

Aparna said...

@ Soumyaranjan Dash, thanks.

@ Jaadi, thanks, those were the days.

@ Sharmila, they were the TV stars of the '80. Some of them were in Nukkad and other serials.

@ Kavita, my god, you remember that scene? Kitu Gidwani was my all time favourite. Just loved her. And who could forget the Nirma ad?

@ Avdi, the '80s were such a fun filled decade. And yes I do remember those short cartoon films.We used to wait for them.

@ Sakshi, even I thought I would fall in love with a guy like that, but that never happened. Sigh. And yes I meant a Maruti. Your family still owns one? I always thought that was the best car to drive on Indian roads. I forgot to chronicle Sakshi's birth in my post! How forgetful of me.

@ Roshni, thanks. Ramayan was super cool with all those bows and arrows. And remember the demonic laughter of Ravan?

@ Sucharita, I had a lot of fun writing about the '80s. Wanted to add something about the ads, but the post would have become too long.

@ Meira, thanks. You are the '90s girl. May be you should write on that era.

@ BK Chowla,indeed, those days were exciting. Thanks for writing back.

@ Sujata, the '90s were not really eventless. We all got married and had kids in that decade. But they were not as exciting na?

@ Ani-aset, you are right, I love cricket and still love fauji:)

Tomz said...

What an interesting writing...I even forgot to trace back my biography while reading yours as I have totally immersed and have been visualizing the events one by one.

The Holy Lama said...

That's great little diary you have here. And one question- was there someone around who made your mom wary of you seeing love story twice?
And I recognise Satish Shah, Neena Gupta, Rakesh Bedi, Kunika Goswami and that Nukkad guy- his name idon't remember etc- video streaming real bad here, can't see it one go.
Really a wonderful post as always.:)

Insignia said...

Wow, that was a wonderful flashback. You have written with so much of passion.

Fantastic write

Insignia said...

Wow, that was a wonderful flashback. You have written with so much of passion.

Fantastic write

Samvedna said...

Lovely nostalgic post..Isaw this movie, so I can recognise all of them,, plus I am a movie addict, so have seen all those movies:)

Smita said...

This is such a nostalgically lovely post!!!

Ramayana, Tezab, World Cup ah! those lovely days!! I remember my Dad had purchased a colored TV because he wanted the Reliance Cup on colored screen!!!

What all we can do to get those days back na???

Anonymous said...

What traumatic times! Yes, life is much easier in those respects, today...

Aparna said...

Hi Zeba, yes, the'80s were a happenening era in terms of world events, TV programmes, economic changes... I loved every part of my growing up years.

Hi Ajit, now that you mention it, I vaguely remember reading somewhere that alzheimers patients remember every thing about their past but very little about their present.

Hello nsiyer, I am glad you enjoyed the post. I miss those days.

Hi Akshay, thank you so much. I am glad you liked reading about the events that happened much before you were born.

Hi Suman, oh lovely! great to know you belong to THAT generation too! I do remember Betaab and Rocky, but the post was getting too long. Also did not write about so many TV serials.

Hi SG, thank you so much. I am glad you liked the post.

Hi Phoenix, thank you.

Hi bluebird, Actually I remember Ravi Shastri more than the car.We all drooled after him. The car was a bonus.

Hi Bijoy, thank you.

Hi Nona, I am eagerly waiting for a post from the '80s boy.

Hi Swatantra, thank you so much for appreciating the post.

Hi Wanderlust, that Ravi Shastri moment was indeed inspiring. And to be honest, I am still a bit in love with the fauji.

Hi Anju, lovely to know that you also connect with my memories. May be you can also write about your days in Delhi.

Hi Purnima the DD generation rocked. The serials those days were simply awesome.

Hi Tomz, thanks. I am glad the post engrossed you.

Hi Holy Lama,I think the man is Avtar Gill. And no there was no one to make my mom weary. She was simply paranoid. Now that I have a 14 year old, I understand completely.

Hi Insignia, thank you.

Hi Antarman, can you tell me the name of the girl in the video? She was also the niece of Shatrughan Sinha in Naram Garam.

Hi Smita, Do you also remember how we had to adjust the antenna to get the clear picture of the colour TV?

Hi Unsung P, no matter what you guys say, we still think THAT generation was better, even without cell phones and internet.

Mohan said...

huh! so much of nostalgia!!!

You post just made me recall my childhood days too! the black and white TV's from Bush and Dianora... Ramayan, Giant Robot, Street Hawk, Mahabharat, Bhyomesh Bakshi, Jungle book, Malgudi days... I just can't stop here :D

Well, I was a too young kid in 80s and most of my memoirs start with 90s :)

Sujatha Bagal said...

The timeline sort of fits me too!

R. Ramesh said...

gr8 post...past is always good as v have crossed it..coooollll..take care aparna best wishes always

Destiny's child... said...

I enjoyed reading this post sooooo much! Long it was, but I didn't feel so. I have only heard of all these happenings. I could relate with your awe for the Fauji and your brother's admiration for the ek-do-teen girl, coz I was born in that year. Even my heart went dhak-dhak for ShahRukh but that was many years later, when once my dad told me, 'This guy used to appear in a serial called Fauji'....

Great post Aparna! :)

aMus said...

aaah! memory lane and all its familiar stops...

i used to like kitu gidwani and my, was that neena gupta?

loved reading this

lostworld said...

Aparna , thanks for visiting my page !!

Tell you what? I have read a few of your posts earlier. In fact, it was through one of your comments that I learnt how to add an award sticker on my blog page. I did leave a comment .. :)It was a pleasant surprise to see you.

I loved the way you have described each year..beautiful!!! I was a toddler but someday if I write about the 90's, it would read like yours ;-) Rajasthan trip sounds like a dream. Brilliant stuff Aparna.

lostworld said...

Oh & I'm a huge SRK fan too ;-) Same pinch!

Anonymous said...

wow!! that was such a beautiful description..!!
loved the line where your brother fell for that "ek do teen' girl:))

Urmi said...

Thanks a lot for all your lovely comments. Wonderful post.You have written very beautifully about 80's and while reading your post I felt nostalgic. Excellent. Keep it up!

Tomz said...

Thank you Aparna ..but i am disappointed that the number of your visits to my a few last posts are actually zero.

Blunt Edges said...

brilliant post!!!

if an innocuous comment from me can generate such an awesome response, i might well say something like that everytime!

loved the nostalgic writing style n the short summary 4 each year...bravo! :D:D:D

Samvedna said...

That girl is Kiran Vairale..she was a very sweet looking girl>

Aparna said...

Mohan, I feel the TV programmes were much better those days.I really can not recall any good serial running on TV in the '90s.

Smitha, those days were lovely don't you think?

Ramesh, thank you.

Destiny's child, SRK didnt really look like what he looks like now...he was raw and young and all the girls were mad about him.

Suma,Kitu gidwani was my favourite and yes that was Nina gupta!

Lostworld, good to connect with another SRK fan!

Wishes galore, thanks! My bro I suspect is still a bit in love with the ek do teen girl :)

Babli, thank you...I am glad you liked the post.

Tomz, point noted! Will rectify:)

Blunt edges,thank you thank you thank you. Hope you will inspire me with such innocuous comments always :D

Antarman, thanks :) I was going mad trying to recall her name. She was very cute.

Ire said...

This is excellent! :) Awesome post!

J P Joshi said...


Yes, can relate to the eighties as this was a happening decade for our country. 1982 - Asiad and colour TV's legal entry into India. Shastri's win. 1984 - for those unfortunate events. Ramayan; 1987 - on the brink of war and back; cricket diplomacy.

A good recollection of the slow, but contented days.

Mystic Margarita said...

Beautiful post and a charming trip down memory lane. I did recognize some of the people in the song - Satish Shah, Neena Gupta, Javed Khan, and d Rakesh Bedi. I had just started going to school in 80, but I do remember most of the DD serials which had us mesmerized. :)

Haddock said...

Thoroughly enjoyed watching that.
All faces are familiar though I can't reproduce the names.
Satish Shah looks so trim.
I doubt if there was any "choreographer" for this song. But they did it well according to the beat.

Pink Mango Tree said...

hey... lovely post!
a blogger friend shared your url with me! yet to explore the blog!