Look at the shiny, eager, innocent faces of the Backstreet Boys. Now think of Bieber. Ugh. If you grew up in the 90s and are raising your child in 2014, your childhood beats your little one’s hollow. No arguments there. Here are 7 reasons why:
Friend: Chest – 54 inches
Me: 56 inches! Yaay!
If you’re a late 80s or early 90s kid (no, I’m not going to tell you my year of birth unless you’re Ryan Gosling) you know what I’m talking about – the ubiquitous and all-important WWE cards of our childhood. As someone who belongs to that golden age of growing up, we have the dubious distinction of memorising not just the names, but the vital stats of all wrestlers by heart. Beat Andre the Giant in the height department? You must be joking. Yokozuna could squash all his competitors like bugs in the weight department, while Hulk Hogan sailed through the rank round. If you say 56 inches to a 2014 kid today, they’ll probably ask if it’s LED or LCD. And wonder if there’s a surround sound system installed as well. Fail.
The VOs were so much cooler
It would be blasphemous to compare the Hindi dubbed versions of Small Wonder and Different Strokes with the nonsense that is Shin Chan and Doraemon. I’ll never forget Harriet’s abiding love for Jamie. Nor will I forget the sight of Shin Chan running around the house wearing his mother’s bra. Enough said.
There was no such thing as too much reality
I have to admit, I owe my die-hard romanticism, penchant for drama and the propensity to heave long, loud sighs when “love” is being discussed to one man and one man alone – Shah Rukh Khan. Dear SRK, you ruined me for life. And even though I may curse you now, I can still mouth “Hum ek baar jeetey hain, ek baar marte hain, pyaar bhi ek baar hoti hai…” along with you and then promptly dissolve into a puddle of sentimental tears, followed by mental calisthenics, aka known as the ‘running around trees’ dance of Bollywood; much like the ones Kajol performed in DDLJ and Madhuri in Dil Toh Pagal Hai for my very own Rahul/Raj.
And then there are the 2014 kids with their dozens of reality shows and performance pressures and the exhausting tayyaris for their many victories. Just looking at those 4-year-olds gyrating their bellies in perfectly synchronised dance moves on live TV exhausts me. When I was 4, reluctant family members and unsuspecting guests were my only live audience and all I had to do was sing one rabindrasangeet without (too many) prompts from the parents to be crowned a child prodigy. Thank god there was no YouTube for my mom to learn that somewhere in China, a 2-year-old was perfecting her/his C-scale and planning a solo concert.
Boyzone VS Bieber
Do you really need me to elaborate? Growing up, there were two teams: Team Boyzone and Team Backstreet Boys. I am convinced the phrase ‘bedroom eyes’ was invented for Ronan Keating (you can guess which team I belonged to). And while teenage crushes are teenage crushes, no matter which decade they happen in, somehow, I’m not very embarrassed admitting that Ronan made my sacred womanhood tingle at the tender age of 13. I can’t imagine a single self-respecting woman voluntarily admitting in 2030 that she had a crush on Biebs when she was a teenager. It’s one of those secrets you take to the grave with you.
Speaking of secrets…
Will the 2014 kids even know what the word means? If it hasn’t been caught on the nanny cam, the various CCTVs in school buses, the school lobbies, the classrooms, at the mall, etc., it will be on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (or any of the hundreds of social networking sites) in the form of long, loving posts by their expressive parents. Just the thought of such constant scrutiny is unnerving. But dear parents, just a word of caution. Nothing on the Internet ever truly dies. One day, your darling angels are going to be rebellious teens who will dig up your FB post postulating about their many fart faces that you received a delighted 50 ‘Likes’ for. And it’s not going to be pretty!
Now compare that to my childhood. I still vividly remember the day we got our first computer. I was 10. I remember crying with joy. It was a huge, bulky white thing but I loved it more dearly than I had loved anything else in my young life. A friend of mine, Apoorv Sood, articulates it best: “My family had one household computer for a long time, which sat proudly and awkwardly in the dining room like a brilliant work of art in a museum.” It’s true, the family computer was like a member of the family and the dial-up Internet connection (when it finally came!) was like a temperamental kaamwali bai-showing up only when the fancy took her. This is where you hear the trrrr-peeeen-beep-beep-trrrr of the dial-up connection of the 90s in your mind! It was almost 15 years ago, but I think my sister still hates me a little for making her play the Luigi to my Mario. Sorry kid of 2014, but PS3 can’t hold a candle to the ‘6666 games in 1’ video game cassette of my childhood.
Because Pluto was a frikkin’ planet
My Very Elegant Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets
I’d like to emphasise on nine. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Yes, PLUTO. The friendly ball of ice. When I was a kid, Pluto was a card-carrying, certified member of the planetary system. And now, all of a sudden, my childhood seems like a lie, because, they say Pluto is no longer even a planet? Like, seriously, wtf! Dear kids of 2014, I feel bad that your solar system is devoid of the most adorable planet ever. Ha!
Because toys were toys, not political statements
“A couple of 5-year-olds recently told me that they didn’t like to play with Barbie dolls and GI-Joe figures because they are not ‘natural and real’. I can’t understand why these kids have to be so damn intelligent at 5. FIVE!” Apoorv shares with me. It’s true. When I was growing up, we greedily grabbed whatever toys came our way. And our parents let us play with whatever a kind aunt or uncle gifted, provided that they were safe, relieved that they wouldn’t have to spend on toys. Now, everything is a political statement. They have to be non-toxic, age-appropriate, size-appropriate, recycled, recyclable, in line with the parents’ ideological beliefs, gender-neutral, mentally stimulating, physically challenging, aurally pleasant and visually aesthetic. Which is why, when I visit my friends’ newborns, I hand the baby an envelope with cash in it.
I could go on and on and on. And since this is the world wide web, maybe I will! But the point is, our childhood totally trumps that of the “kids these days”. Now that I have established the unmatched supremacy of the 90s childhood, excuse me while I go smoke my Phantom cigarette in solitude and ponder over the meaning of life.
(Note: This post of mine was originally published in Yowoto on 30th May 2014)