It’s a beautiful day here in London and I’m amidst all the Saturday chores. The sort of day when you feel like motoring on and getting things done..
A conversation this morning sparked some reminiscing about the ‘old days’. In particular, it was the mention of my Grandmom describing the years I grew up to a friend who had visited home. My Grandmom was remembering weekends which typically meant a house full of kids playing and running in for food when we were 9 and 10 year olds and then kids who ‘hung out’ for till late (read: 9pm) when we were in our early teens.
A big part of growing up hanging out in our old home, No.87 in AC block in Anna Nagar in Chennai or simply ‘AC-87’. AC-87 was the first real hub and formed a vital part of the years I spent growing up in Chennai from when I was 9 years old to when I turned 17 and left home for university.
I have SO many memories from those days that it’s very hard to pick out a few that stood out. Till we were about 12 years old, AC-87 was where the action was. We played cricket on the road outside home, chatted around for long hours in the verandah and then stormed into the dinner table for food. Somehow, my Grandmom always had food ready for us when we were hungry! And of course, we were almost always around for the big festivals – Holi, Diwali etc.
As we became teenagers, eating at home wasn’t cool anymore so we used to play outside home and then head to a place called ‘Dal Roti’ for cheap Pani Puris and Samosas. And as we grew, the action gradually shifted away from home to larger fields where we could play cricket in big groups. There was, however a period, in our 10th standard when we couldn’t go to fields to play and suddenly, home was the place to be. Whether it was 2 on 2 football with a softball in the car park or cricket in the car park during the board exam period, there was always an immense amount of noise.
This period was hilarious since were energetic teenagers who weren’t allowed to play much given it was an ‘important exam’. So, we always got together for about 1 and a half hours in the evening to play cricket and this was an outlet for all our energy (Read: Lots of yelling). And I still remember my Grandad complaining that he used to be woken up from his afternoon nap by my friend Bittu’s and my voice as we loudest of the lot!
And then, of course, we grew up and almost all our hanging out was outside home. Now, AC-87 was the place where we typically said the goodbye. Again, it was just lounging in the chairs in the verandah that did it as we didn’t all have to enter home sweaty and smelly!
And thus, we grew up. A year or so later, in my 12th standard, we said goodbye for what had been our family home for 25 odd years and moved to a flat, our current home. Saying goodbye was very tough.. it still makes me sigh. Our new home, however, didn’t waste any time in becoming the new hang out place and this lasted for a year before a bunch of us headed out to university. We still kept it up, meeting during the summer and for the annual new year bash that is tradition. But, slowly, the group was getting smaller and smaller. Now, we are all spread across different continents studying and working and we all barely get to meet. But, thanks to technology, we are of course well in touch with a Whatsapp group keeping a big part of this group connected.
While the distance does exist, all the times we spent together growing up means that it’s always always special when we get together. We all have friends like that, friends with whom we can just pick up from where we left of.. and in my case, it’s the gang I grew up with from the days at AC-87..
That’s the hang out verandah where we’ve all sat for hours. And that’s Grandmom in the car park. The more I think of it, I think it was my Grandmom who was a big part of the secret sauce of what made our home the unofficial official hang out place. She was always welcoming and always ready with food (what other way to young boys’ hearts!)..
I requested my Mom to dig out a few photos of home and in short notice, she managed to find a couple. These are from a long time ago. I know there are a few more lying around but she made a nice comment that we had more photos of monuments from around the world than our old home. These were also not the days of digital and phone cameras..
Clearly, a very long time ago.. :-)
I wish we had photos of all us just hanging out but I don’t think we do. That said, I’m going to tag some of these guys I spoke about in this post and let’s see if we have a couple of them in the comments.. :-)