To categorize my blog posts with the title “Flavors of Life” was a sudden instinct. Our lives, I feel, are akin to an elaborate cuisine. A varied collection of spices and seasonings are stocked in the pantry of our daily happenings, and they add zest to our being. At times, the wrong dose or ingredient spoils the dish. And as the days slide by, some of these items lose their aroma or freshness and are replaced by something new.
I do not know if the few gray strands on my head have made me philosophical. Or am I just a sentimental fool who loves traveling down memory lane? Whatever be the reason, I cannot help but pine for some of those old times and recollect the norms and traditions that are slowly fading into oblivion.
Can you count the number of times in a week that you listen to the radio? I certainly can. It’s only sometimes while we are driving that we casually tune in to the channels in the car stereo. Television and other entertainment media have almost spelled the slow death of the radio. I have never seen my youngster even showing interest in it, let alone playing it. But there were those moments when I grew up when it was so refreshing to listen to songs on the radio. Song requests could be sent to a local station. If you were lucky, your choice was broadcasted! It was a novel experience to exercise our imagination and listen to plays and dramas that were aired.
The terminology “Sunday Lunch Special” for our kids today instantly evokes images of a sumptuous buffet laid out in a restaurant. For me as a child, it had the image of an exciting afternoon when all of us were at home and my mom cooked everyone’s favorite delicacies. We would have interesting conversations across the dining table over lovingly cooked home meals. Eating out was not as frequent and more for special occasions. I wonder how much importance a homemade lunch has for kids these days.
It is practically impossible to picture a happy child of this age without technology as his or her companion. On the other hand, our childhood and teenage years lacked the marvels of gizmos and gadgets, yet they were still just as joyous. We would wait in eager anticipation for a new Dennis the Menace, Tin Tin, or Laurel and Hardy comic book to be released in the market. Picnics with family and friends were appreciated and looked forward to. Playing board games, indulging in outdoor sports, crazily getting drenched in the summer showers, savoring mouth-watering street-side snacks: all provided wholesome entertainment.
Just recently, a fictional place sparked some more sweet nostalgia. A decade after the series finale of American comedy series Gilmore Girls was aired, I somehow got to watching it. The recommendation came from a couple of close friends with whom I share similar tastes. The story set in a totally fabricated town by the name of Stars Hollow stirred up memories. The fascinating and sometimes weird mix of characters that inhabit it do not lead me to draw parallels with anyone I know. The lifestyle is distinctly in tune with present times. But what kindled a sense of yearning is the fact that this quintessential rural town of New England located 30 miles from Hartford, Connecticut is portrayed as a close knit community. The camaraderie that runs among the populace, despite differences in opinions and outlook, is strongly reminiscent of a community I faintly remember and heard about a lot as I grew up.
Close to five decades ago, my maternal grandparents’ neighborhood had that distinct flavor of an extended family. Most people had a job or business in the town itself, and several generations had lived in the place for ages. The bonhomie that existed was extraordinary. It was much later in my adulthood when I learned that some individuals who I had all along thought to be my relatives were actually the friends of my grandparents or of my uncles and aunts. Festivals were celebrated together, garden produce was shared among homes, and you could knock on the house next door for a cup of sugar if you ran out of some. A family was never alone. Be it a wedding or a funeral, the neighbors were there to help out with all. What bound them together was a common sense of belonging to the place.
Progress, opportunities, and urbanization have immensely changed the scenario. Barring a few exceptions, only a handful of families these days live in the same locality forever. What you witness is a floating population; people move in and out. For pragmatic reasons, an individualistic culture is slowly taking over group harmony.
The world has taken strides beyond imagination. Innovation is the order of the day. We are swept by the strong winds of competition and consumerism. Technology has revolutionized the way we think and not only governs the present but has set the pattern to even mould our future. I fall back once again on a quote I believe in: “The only thing that is constant is change”. The old gives way to the modern. We adapt, we acclimatize, and we move forward. We even accept the new and extol its radiant shades. Life never comes to a standstill, but in our treasured collection of memories, we preciously preserve those moments: the strands that had once woven the fabric of our existence.