Childhood revisited

Golden days to think of as we get Old..

Talking of price rise and what a rupee or for that matter a 10 rupee note can buy today ..maybe a Maha Munch ( a chocolate)… I thought of devoting some of my spare time to rekindle old memories of my school days during the 70’s in Bombay ( now Mumbai).

Pocket money coined in those years more as coin money was a welcome gift from our parents and the most we could get during those days was a 20p or a 10p on a daily basis. I was not in a habit of spending those coins on a daily basis though. It might so happen, that there could be dry days in between.

A 10 paisa or a 5 paisa coin used to put our young minds in a dilemma as to what item could be purchased. There was always the local small grocer, who had all the stuff, right from 1p so as to say, you could fulfill the senses of your sweet tooth five times over. But that was too meagre.

The local grocer had pappadis, groundnuts, loose biscuits of Parle G, Chikkis, Ravalgoan sweets and what nots. On the way to school and around the school, especially during recess time, there used to come, a few hawkers who could understand our weakness for sweets, especially the chikkis and cotton candy, the sugar balloons that we used to call them during those time. The chikkiwala had a chisel with him which was used to chisel out portions of chikki from his large circular plate, which he used to keep on his bamboo stand, away from our prying hands if not from our eyes. I thought during those times the chikki was costlier than gold, the way he used to hand it over to us for our 5 paisa or 10 p that was doled out to him in return.

The process of making the cotton candies was enchanting for us, as the hawker used to practically reserve the preparation in front of our eyes, so that most of us would come out and stand around him than go across to any other optional hawker who offered his services to us on that day.

By the time, we chewed on the chikki and enjoyed the saliva mix with the goodness of jaggery, the bell would go off, thus signalling the end of recess time. It was, when we came to the secondary school that was a good 500 metres away, when the ice cream or the gola (crushed ice ) maker was made accessible to us. He along with another maker was always positioned on the road adjoining the municipal school, that was on the way to our school. There were other hawkers on the street selling all sorts of condiments, (jamuns, green berries which we used to train our eyes to wink) but the moment our eyes caught sight of these 2 persons, all the rest would fade into darkness. They had this excellent assortment of colours to lace the ice crushed. The grating and the formation of the gola (crushed ice with a sprinkling of lemonade) was yet another process that would entertain our eyes. These people whether they be the golawala, the sweet candy maker, all were magicians in those heydays for us.

A treat to my classmates, especially the close friend circle used to be a gola and for that i used to save my daily allowance. near the school premises. Apart from the gola makers, there were the kulfiwallahs who used to make their appearance once in a while, and we used to grab the opportunity whenever it came wrapped in a kulfi. The effect of rains would drive away most of these vendors and not surprisingly all the wet days were in fact dry days for us little ones..

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