|By Sahil Mehta|
There are 2 things you need to know about me. I am a single child. I never stayed in a building. Now if you’re in the same boat as me, you’d know how lonely it would get as a child. School got over early and then there was really no one to play around with. I’m talking about the early 90s. You didn’t have the culture or resources to go your school friends’ house every time you got bored. These visits were planned weeks in advance and only for the weekends.
Anyways, I did what any rational child would do in my situation. I played a little with the domestic helps when they had free time, I experimented by playing ghar ghar with two older didis who were my only neighbours and I made sure I slept by 6 in the evening so that I didn’t have to endure a boring night after an extremely boring day. But this wasn’t a permanent solution and even 3 year old me knew it. So finally after numerous failed attempts at engaging myself in any outdoor activity, I did the next best thing. I started watching TV.
Initially the television was restricted to watching cricket with my grand-mom. But as my brain developed and I learned how to switch channels on the TV, I was introduced to this magical world full of endless possibilities. Cartoons. And it was hilarious to watch Tom & Jerry run around all day long bumping into things! It still is.
I don’t exactly remember when I started watching cartoons regularly. But the feeble tendrils of my memory stretch back to reveal memories of Mowgli on DD, then Disney Hour on Zee, Hanna Barbera cartoons on Cartoon Network. After that the memories are a little clearer and I can recall watching Ghostbusters and Disney Hour on Sony. Scooby Doo became my favourite along with Centurions and Swat Kats. I absolutely loved watching Razor and T-Bone build those awesome parts and weapons from scrap. That’s probably about when I decided I wanted to be an engineer. I also remember holding a toy gun with batteries in my pocket pretending to be like Egon. I also made a Ghostbusters badge and wore it on my T-shirts. And I absolutely worshipped Ace from Centurions and blue was soon my favourite colour. Come to think of it, I surprised I didn’t start eating dog food like Scooby!
Life was good then. I was doing well at school. The teachers were particularly happy about my English. My mom has more than once said it was because I watched so many English cartoons. I knew all about conversation and the environment because I watched Captain Planet. And by then I had decided I wanted to grow up and become like the Swat Kats and hence was on my way to getting into the IITs. I wasn’t even 10 and had made my life choices based on cartoons. These best thing is I never believed that it wasn’t possible because in the cartoons everything was possible. Oh and I decided to be a good guy because the good guys always won in the end!
I outgrew cartoons after a couple years. And I never really went back to them until this issue. But I always did stop and watch Tom & Jerry whenever I came across it while skimming through channels. And it always made me smile. But watching so many of them over this past month has made me realise why I loved them so much and how they influenced me. And I really feel sorry for kids today who have to put up with the crap they show these days. Most of them are a lame excuse for cartoons. But the few good ones, you can still sit down as a family at the end of a day and watch and laugh and forget everything else. It is family entertainment at its best.