An important part of one’s childhood is the sense of wonder and fascination that any exposure to technology would bring about. Today’s children who have probably never seen a table fan, would be amused to find out how much pleasure, we as children would derive from putting our faces next to the mesh protecting the whirring blades and yelling-waaannnn!!!The breeze from the fan would magnify the echo making it sound strangely metallic-as if it were an extra terrestrial’s cry.
A little older we(that is the boys) got fascinated with Commando comics. The war stories from the second world war could teach you so much. Names of British,German and Japanese fighter planes and bombers, battleships and tanks. We got so good at it we could identify the Spitfires, Mosquitos, Messerschmidts, Zeroes, etc. And the lingo; with the British soldiers saying things like “blimey”, and the Germans going, “Himmel!”; whatever than meant. The Japanese would of course always yell “Banzai” at the top of their voices.
One could tell that the German officers would be driven in a Mercedes car, from the logo. You could likewise glean a wealth of information about the many countries that participated in that war-Italy, America, France, Greece, and of course our own country India (shockingly underrepresented, considering its scale of participation). Then there were the Tintin comics, which we would collect assiduously.
One liked the fact that we could find out about so many countries through the myriad adventures of Tintin the young reporter and his intrepid companions., who were all characters in their own right. Young Tintin’s brave composure in the face of impossible adversity, his ingenious use of technology to make good his escape from time to time made for exciting reading. His commandeering a bi-plane in Soviet Russia or his helping Prof. Calculus in the mission to moon and back and similar other exciting escapades made you realise how important it is to be resourceful in the face of danger.
Now all of these tales and stories may have been, exaggerated, hackneyed or full of racist stereotypes, but you never noticed that part. For these were products of their times and nobody could deny that the intentions were noble and the hearts were in the right places. If growing up we knew the difference between a piston engine or a jet engine aircraft, or the fact that Boeing, Mc Donneldouglas and Lockheed were the leading aircraft manufacturers of the world, even though none of us hardly got to fly at all; it was this exposure we got from comics, magazines and movies.
Now who of that age group hasn’t watched classics like Where Eagles Dare, Escape to Athena, The Guns of Navrone, Enter The Dragon, Return of the Dragon, The Magnificent Seven and so on. How well those movies seemed to be mounted, and how larger than life everything seemed. I may be wallowing in nostalgia, but all the contemporary 3D movies with IMAX technology thrown in don’t seem to be able to hold a candle to those movies. How can you compare Keanu Reeves with a Clint Eastwood?!
I may sound like an absolute sour puss and an old fogy; but to me the present generation of youngsters, especially the boys are wimps and unmitigated disasters waiting to happen! What possible joy could the superstitious claptrap like Harry Potter, or that pansy cat-child(Doremon) provide youngsters? Can racing cars on a Playstation be a substitute for finding out how Tintin would use the knowledge of an impending solar eclipse to outwit the (Red)Indian chief, who would burn him at the stake.
As a kid I would go swimming in a canal which flowed a short distance from our home. I and my friends would enter an aqueduct and flow with the water inside the dark two and a half foot high and two foot broad tunnel, and then trundle down into a tank some five hundred metres ahead. Can’t describe the high it would give us. These days kids prefer to eat a burger at the mall.