Summer holidays during school days are some of the best memories for everyone. I was no different. We literally used to wait for those summer holidays, so that we could escape from the ‘tyranny’ of school and exams. How strange, what was once tyranny is sweet memory now. Does that mean that what we are going through today might become sweet memories in a distant future? Possible.
I don’t remember cribbing about the sun, during summer. We routinely used to play cricket, sometimes starting from 3-4 O’ clock in the evenings, which was definitely not pleasant weather in the summer heat of Chennai. Since I was living in flats, I had a lot of like-minded friends who were passionate about playing, and we played every other indoor and outdoor game we could think of. In the mornings, we were allowed to play only indoor games.
Oh, our fun activities were never restricted to games. Fortunately, back then, we had a large play ground and a large garden (with mostly grass and weed). One of our favorite activities was to build a tent in the garden. It’s nothing like what professional mountaineers make, but ours was special in its own way. We broke many branches and used them as fencing walls, we used the leaves to cover the sides (and the top) to make it a private tent. And we used a password, for making the tent even more secure. Well, the door would be opened only if someone from outside told the password correctly
Indoor games were really fun. We loved playing ‘Trade’/'Business’, where everyone got some money and they can buy cities at the roll of a die. We loved playing a game called ‘Risk’ where we needed to keep a certain amount of army in various countries and defend them (again with a die). We played various versions of card games, chess and carrom board. We played WWF cards and indoor cricket. It’s real cricket but played inside the house, obviously when parents are not around. If we were tired, we would shift to book cricket.
Cartoons and play-stations were virtually non-existent, back then. We had smaller battery operated video games, which we could hold in our hands and play. That became a rage back then and we would group together and play each other’s video game. If one of our friends had a VCR, they’ll call everybody when they rent a new video cassette. We saw a few English movies and many Tamil movies that way. I remember seeing one ghost movie where everything turns green as ghosts infect you and a person lives in a town filled with such ghosts. I didn’t sleep properly for the next one week!
Summer holidays also meant visits to grandmother’s house. We would now team up with a gang of cousins (it was a joint family) and have loads of fun. I wonder how we found simple and silly activities, funny. One of them was calling ‘Anil’ loudly from the window behind and a boy called ‘Anil’ came before the window (Actually I was calling the squirrel, which is called anil in Tamil, but there was a marwari family living right behind us). He asks, ‘what?’. I am all surprised, but regain my composure and say, ‘I want a table-rose’. He plucks one branch and gives it to me. This happens continuously for a few summers!
When the school was about to start, we had to buy new uniforms, shoes, pencil-box, books, note books, etc. We used to sit for a whole day covering and labeling our notebooks. It was such a difficult task back then that we would sleep twice in-between
Recollecting all these things now, I feel that today’s kids are missing so many things – The big ground, the barren garden, climbing trees, jumping compound walls, butterflies, dogs, cats, kites, parks, terrace, indoor-outdoor games, famous five/secret seven’s, WWF, early morning cycle rides, breaking windows (by playing cricket), etc. The cartoon channels, computer games/play-stations, IPL and lack of open space to play, are to blame? No idea.