By Gita Ramessur (English Educator – MGSS Nouvelle France)

Rotary dial phone

Remember the round buttoned telephone-white, black, red, yellow or blue? Those magical yesteryears when it rang, the whole family would be bouncing off the walls. And when mother would announce the visit of our relatives, the preparation would start immediately with excitement. Those Golden Days, families and friends would bond over happy memories, sharing experiences and emotions. Those pleasant memories when we all sat together, leafing through old photos of our shared childhood. The walls of our house were covered by posters of our favourite film stars. The fierce competition was about who were the most famous: ‘Amitabh Bachchan or Mithun Chakraborty’ or ‘Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger?’ How can we forget those famous ‘postcards’ that would proudly portray our bollywood stars which we used to receive from relatives and friends for Christmas and New Year? Oh, we missed the bluer skies, the purer air, those nicer people, those soothing and decent music! In those days, friendship and love lasted lifelong. Life was indeed a rainbow-hued fairy tale.

Hollywood Actor ‘Sylvester Stallone’ and Bollywood Actor ‘Amitabh Bachchan’

Nostalgia smooths and softens the rough edges of the things of the past which was far from the words “modern” or “luxurious”. That simple life of a simple man, no hectic work schedule, a decent work from early morning to evening, no chase of overtime for extra money.  Therefore, the root of all evils: that is ‘Greed for Money’ was absent. A simple saree on a special occasion would bring smile on the face of the wife. Children would be content with one or two pairs of shoes; far away from the craving of designers’ shoes. Clothes were so limited that it would fit in any small space in the wardrobe and they were repeated proudly on several occasions. Ladies would be satisfied with simple ornaments that consist of basic beauty things which would be far from the word “overdo”. Yet, people were happy with such simple life in the past.

Black and white TV

Nostalgia makes us cocoon ourselves into the memories of the old days. Houses were small and simple with limited rooms that would healthily accommodate a big family. The black   and white TV would bring all the family members together where they all crammed into the same bed-a calming place to recuperate from the chaos of everyday life; a place to socialize and to chat with family members. Today, we have a big house but less people living in it to share our happiness and sorrow. Today, we sleep in bedrooms with the ‘door shut’ firmly behind us. Alas! Bedrooms are now bastions of privacy. The simple curtains which would embellish every room, the flower vase on the wooden table of the living room-everything was just a perfect picture of ‘Heaven’. The aroma’s of mother’s cooking and when father would return home after his usual daily battles, his mood would be lifted up by the pleasant smell of the home-made ‘kari poule dan masala’ accompanied with ‘farata’ or rice. And how can we forget the famous ‘Pima konfi or Achard’? The fear and the fun time during cyclones, ‘Hollanda, Carol and Gervaise will be etched in our mind and the famous cyclone warning, “Mauritius mein darje teen ki toofan chetawni jaari hein…” has remained the Slogan of our cyclone bulletin.

Cyclone “Hollanda”

In the evening, families would sit together at dinner table and enjoy watching MBC programmes; only MBC 1 2 and 3. We could not forget the hilarious fight between father for watching the MBC News whereas mother would insist to watch her daily soaps like the famous, “Mari Mar, Luz Clarita, Hum Panch,  Banegi  Apni Baat, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, Friends etc…..”  The warmth of grandfather’s hug as we snuggled into his lap and listened to his horror stories; some we believed to be so true that we felt some ‘monsters’ must be hiding under our bed. In those days, a false story of ‘Loogarou’ was spread and was made to be believed. People used to keep ‘Pionden’ at home as a safety measure. These things have really made our golden lives worth living. Most children had a full complement of chores and responsibilities and quite a lot was expected from the eldest child. The youngest one, being the most pampered and known as ‘zenfan gate’ would always find a way to escape from the chores. The traditional games like ‘Lamarel, kanet, Lastik, Zouzou Menaz, Sapsiway, La Roux etc………’ were never to be missed after school hours. Children would craft paper boats and make them float in the water accumulated during rainy days. School bags would be thrown recklessly to watch “The Jungle Book”.

Children playing ‘Lamarel’

The homes of the children would be in the nature as they thrived close to nature, their bodies hanging in the branches of the trees like ‘Monkeys or Tarzan’. Those primeval monsters truly lived like king size. How can we forget the tantrums of the innocent monsters and the punishment of the parents, waiting for the little devils to return home with a big stick or belt? Despite being punished, the innocent mistakes would be repeated often. Our diaries which were filled by our emotions and sometimes with lyrical notes of our favourite songs which we would practise regularly. The glimpse of traditional wedding was memorable with “Bamboo Bedi” and neighbours would be visiting the wedding house one month prior to the auspicious ceremony to give a helping hand. “No Gift Box” never existed that time. In those days, wedding was more of a divine celebration that that of today’s wedding with pomp and show. Forget about shopping malls, dining in a restaurant was a far-fetched dream and every person had a ‘Karne ration’ in the nearby shop in which all their purchase transactions were recorded.

Was the past ever perfect? Is the present merely an illusion or fake life? Where computer, internet and mobile phone have snatched our freedom, the beauty of our life; sucking our blood as a ghost or vampire. The fear of our moves being ‘recorded, judged and criticized.’ Where Privacy has overshadowed our freedom. The selective airbrushed and rose-tinted   mental images of past have gone and human beings are just surviving in their ‘House’ and not in their ‘Home’ like a zombie. Is Darwin’s theory of evolution a crazy myth? Are people losing their self in the pursuit of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Are we inferior waste of products of history and a compost pit for the new generation? The answer for these questions will be found perhaps while strolling through the tranquil bends of memory lane. It is all about knowing and realising if we were happy or are we happy?

Reality of modern life