In these days when children have so many entertainment
options I’m surprised at how often they seem to get bored. When we
were young, there were no TVs or video games but I don’t remember
our being bored very much. When I think about it, I believe it’s because
we had so many more real interactions with the world we lived in
Of course we had dolls and board games
and sometimes we played verbal games like words building. We read a lot
and without electronic stimuli we used our imaginations more. Families were
also bigger then and most people lived with their extended family, meaning
there was always something to do and someone to do it with.
In case you think this all sounds boring,
we also had entertainment that came to our houses, though not through cable
or the satellite dish. The snake charmer would come with his cobra, or the
man with the monkey that could do a variety of tricks. Occasionally the
kalai would appear with his bull decked out in brightly patterned shawls
and vividly colored horns. The man would ask the bull if we were nice people
who'd give him clothes and the bull would shake his head yes.
Sometimes it would be the kuratthi or the
gypsy woman in her colorful clothes, who'd offer to read our palms for a
few pennies. Then there was the juggler with his sack of tricks. Once in
a while there would be the tight rope walker and his family at the corner
of the street performing acrobatic feats. All these people would come to
our neighborhood and perform for a little bit of money. In a sense we didn’t
have to go to the circus, as it came to us!
We children enjoyed these performances tremendously
and were always amazed by their shows. I remember my brother once asked
a juggler to show him how he did his magic and was told firmly that these
were family secrets that couldn’t be shared. This added to the mystery
of it all and my brother took to wrapping a blanket around himself to imitate
the juggler, unsuccessfully performing conjuring tricks to an not-so enthralled
audience of me and my sister.
One of the things I seem to miss the most
was the excitement of the mobile movie ads of the day, consisting of a man
on a bullock cart banging his drum with big cinema posters on both sides.
When I think of it now, the lack of
electronic toys and virtual friends allowed us to develop closer real friendships,
encouraging our imagination and curiosity about the world and the people
who inhabit it.