I grew up in a big, boisterous joint family where there was so much activity happening all the time! Ours was a sprawling bungalow with a garden running all around it, the office (of our family business) also housed with the bungalow and a small factory in the backyard.
Daytime was a constant buzz, filled with all kinds of sounds -- the men of the house trying to get the Priya and Chetak (the scooters of those time) running by kick-starting them, with our dog Pintu jumping and barking away in the background; the cooker whistling in the kitchen, we kids swapping turns cycling and swinging in the verandah, and the machines whirring away in the factory.
Powercuts were quite often, especially during the summer. Cooking and eating dinner by the candle light was quite common. The elders and older kids provided amusement with the game ‘shadows on the wall’ while the younger tots like me gave the sound effects for their actions:D
Post dinner, with no TV to watch, we all used to put out the metal kots (called khaatla in gujarati) in the angan and sit/lie down there under the starlight (which is very hard to find these days except at hill stations!), while baa (grandma) and bapuji (grandpa) used to sit in bamboo chairs in the verandah.
Once all of us had settled in and were passing around the plastic hand fans and newspapers, we would start with our favorite game – Antakshari!
We would split up in 4 groups and then my eldest uncle (whom we fondly call Pappaji) would do the honours with “baithe baithe kya karein, karna hai kuch kaam, shuru karo antakshari leke prabhu ka naam!” The first group would then start singing a song with the akshar ‘ma’. And so it would go on…what fun it would be, there would be those classics which had to be sung without fail, such as ‘ramaiya vasta vaiya’ and of course those peppy numbers to which we all kids would jump out of the khaatlas and do the trademark dance steps, like ‘my name is lakhan’ and then the romantic ones where the couples would do a duet on / dance to while the rest of the family cheered on.
Me being one of the youngest would have a limited library of songs and so will be anxiously waiting for that letter to come where I can finally sing the song I know! I recall my performances as very enthusiastic, albeit with a goof up of lyrics or pronunciation here and there, and followed by a resounding round of applause from the entire family leaving me all glowing and happy!:)
The other most awaited performance would be from baa who would only sing a song on much coaxing and would be blushing all through her rendition:D
There would obviously be the pro players of the game like my sisters who would inject various rounds such as rapid-fire, jodi round (you have to sing the song pairing one hero/heroine from the song sung by the previous group with a new one), situation round and the likes!
All in all it would be a most memorable time spent which made me in fact look forward to those power cutsJ
And today, while powercuts do persist, I see inverters in most homes which means life goes on as usual. Even where there are no inverters, family members are simply absorbed in their respective ‘smart’ phones – from kids of this generation, the response to a game like antakshari varies from silly to boring; they would rather tune in to their iTunes playlist than participate in a game like this! And do I even need to say about big, joint families…what I grew up in seems like another world altogether, there are more cars and gadgets than the number of family members in a home these days!
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