Every generation tints the pop culture of their childhood with rosy musings and memoirs. And it’s finally the Millennial’s turn to that. The ’90s nostalgia first showed up on our Facebook feeds in the early 2010s and gathered much more momentum as newer TV series and kids obsessing over smartphone apps and games started reminding us of the times when things were starkly different.
The '90s was a time when smartphones did not misshapen the way of life. It was a norm to exchange books to read and discuss stories with your friends in school corridors. You could find small book shops at any corner of the city. It used to be such a time when music was not just a bunch of tunes and lyrics that you would listen to on earphones. It was an experience; played on cassettes and appreciated by the whole family.
Kids were not hiding behind electron-emitting-phone screens, but out on the streets: cycling… rolling tyres with a stick down the road, or playing Kho Kho, and Gulli Danda. Getting back home with a couple of scratches was only a reminder of the fun time that you had and not a cause of concern for parents even, life worked, just like that.
We waited for Zakoota and Nastoor aka Ainak Wala Jin to grace our TV screens every evening. The force of Bill Batori's spells was way stronger than Hermione's Wingardium Leviosa. As Zakoota enquired; ‘’mujhe kaam batao main kya karun, main kis ko khaoon”, the kids would have their dinner and prepare for bedtime. These little.. partial… restricted amusement sources, as they now appear, lasted for longer periods of euphoria.
Long before PUBG and Among Us, Sega and Nintendo consoles offered Donkey Kong and Mario. Long before the inception of Spotify, the only thing you needed to be the coolest kid walking on the street was the Sony Walkman. No birthdays or family gatherings were complete without reel cameras. Getting the perfect selfie was unheard of and you literally had to count days to view the developed photos.
Neelam Ghar on PTV was a family favorite and Lucky Irani Circus entertained people across the country. Ali Zafar’s Channo and Abrar-ul-Haq’s Preeto were loved by everyone. Movie nights meant renting DVDs and VHS to be watched on VCRs. Alpha Bravo Charlie fandom was on another level. Setting up TV antennas was never the task for the faint of heart.
Ludo was not an app, but a board game that brought everyone closer, and a major cause of disputes and families; particularly among the cousins, at the same time. The ludo fights and cheats would make everyone turn the board over. If not anything else, Yassoo Panju Haar Kabootar Doli made us strong at hath, as it took all our strength not to cry while our hands were slammed, until we pleaded Baba Rehmatullah!
Boys and girls played Cham Cham Cham, Baraf Pani, Chor Sipaahi and Chupan Chupai instead of rushing to Candy Crush Saga or Angry Birds, the only angry bird most of us knew was Dadi’s pet parrot. A patakhon wali pistol and laser light would instantly upgrade your social status. Pocket money was not more than five rupees, for a day, and kids still managed to save a rupee or two by the end of the day. One jump further from lead pencil to fountain pen and ball-point, was perceived as a mini graduation. Keeping an ink pot would fill the owner of it with a sense of pride.
Kulfi walas and spicy corn sellers were always around the corner if you needed them. Jetsport and Polka were everyone’s favorite ice-cream. Another roadside treat was the mini version of Ferris Wheel, made out of wood, painted in solid colors.. had room for four children at a time. Kids used to form queues to get a chance to ride the Ferris wheel. It was a time when kids grew up as dreamers, shadowing Shahid Afridi’s out-of-the-park sixes.
Each era and every decade has its own distinct features. They wear a unique scent, a different color and character which is remembered by those who lived and experienced it. As time passes it sheds its hues and absorbs pigments infused with nostalgia and fond memories. But it never goes away completely; it isn’t lost to time. Anyone who wants to take a whiff of the 90s and all its nostalgia just needs to take a look through the lens covered with memory’s filter.