Most of us were born a year or two on either side of the year 1970. We are all now in our forties. This perhaps is a good time to look back and savour the essence of being a seventies child. As kids born in the swinging seventies, we went through a world of tumultuous change, and yet, managed to adapt to all of that effortlessly.
We belong to a generation which knows that ‘trunk calls’ have nothing to do with elephants. We were also around when STD did not necessarily mean ‘sexually transmitted disease’, but an easier way to stay connected. In keeping with Lamarck’s theory of use and disuse, our thumbs readily adapted to texting away endlessly. And now we experience distress when our mobile phones go out of our sights even for a minute.
When we secured admissions into GMC, it was the telegram that conveyed the message to us. From registered post to speed post, and why, even to the death of the telegram- we have seen it all. And how else could we have all gathered in such large numbers for these silver jubilee celebrations, but for the amazing connectivity provided by the internet, the omnipresent email and the fascinating world of Facebook?
It is heart-warming to recollect that gramophone records were around when the disco fever hit us. Thereafter came the era of ubiquitous cassettes and VCD players. Don’t we all remember owning precious collections of songs and films? We have now transitioned smoothly into the present era of CDs, DVDs, mp3 and mp4. We have seen them all! Forty years is a long time indeed!
I fondly remember watching grainy black and white pictures of the President declaring the Asian Games open in New Delhi, when the television first made an appearance in our neighbour’s home. The decision to purchase a colour television at home was accelerated after Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Who can forget the extra-long Sunday mornings with Doordarshan? These started from Mickey and Donald, to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos to Star Trek and the Secrets of the Sea until Shekhar Suman made his appearance in Wah Janab at lunchtime. That was the time Mom would have had enough of our television viewing! From the solitary DD to the 100 channels we can’t even name, from the soft-spoken Salma Sultan to the rabble rousing Arnab Goswami, from watching Lajoji in Buniyaad to big fights in Bigg Boss, from Anu Kapoor in Antakshari to Anu Malik in Indian Idol– how our tastes have changed!
When we trace our lives, we would probably find a parallel in the rise of the Angry Young Man in Zanjeer and his elevation in Deewar. We prayed for Amitabh Bachchan when he was hurt on the sets of Coolie. And yes, we were there when he made a phoenix-like comeback on the small screen with Kaun Banega Crorepati. The Khans and Kapoors have come, but the legend of AB continues unabated. Where are the award winning art films which showcased Smita, Shabana, Om Puri and Naseer? You scratch your head to wonder why Chennai express deserves to make 200 crores. Yet the craft of film making amazes you with its genius. And AR Rahman still stirs a patriotic chord in us with his Maa tujhe salaam.
Ours is the generation which grew up applauding Sunil Gavaskar’s world class knocks. And we were there with a lump in our throats when Sachin Tendulkar called it a day at the Wankhede yelling “Sachiiiiin Sachiiiiiiiiiin”. The pictures of Kapil Dev lifting the World Cup in 1983 and MS Dhoni with bald pate kissing the World Cup in 2011 are still vivid in our memories. We needed cinema to remind us that we also have a sport called hockey in our country and that we had a Milkha Singh who needed our respect. From being hard core cricket fans, we have finally begun to acknowledge the Leanders, Sanias, Sainas and Anands who play for our country. And thankfully our Olympic medal collection has at least been opened by a bunch of talented wrestlers, shooters, boxers and archers.
We were barely learning to walk when the Emergency happened. The seventies kids have seen 11 Presidents and 12 Prime Ministers of India take office. We have gone through the agony of assassinations of two Prime Ministers. We have savoured several proud moments- from India’s nuclear tests at Pokhran to the introduction of electronic voting machines in the world’s largest democracy to victory at Kargil. We have seen disasters such as the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai and Kalpana Chawla’s death. From hearing rumours about Skylab falling on our heads to hearing Rakesh Sharma say “Saare jahaan se achcha” from space to witnessing Mangalyaan being launched into orbit, we have certainly come a long way.
So much water has flown under the bridge. We have witnessed so much. How much have we changed? Well, we do need hair colour to cover our greys, and a little more exercise to conceal the unwelcome paunch. But then, life begins in the forties. Somewhere, if the child within us overshadows our cynicism, if our curiosity for learning never ends, if we choose to walk on the right path, and if we remain connected with each other, we will remain young at heart forever!
(I wrote this piece for my medical school silver jubilee reunion.)