Friday, August 30, 2013

Wagle ki Duniya- A throwback into the times

I have to agree that this year in Germany will remain special for me. Just for the fact that it has helped me reconnect with many things I loved once, moments long lost and forgotten, friends with whom I always thought of talking but kept on delaying about the chance encounter bit- everything!

Now coming back to the part of reconnecting, I think 'Youtube" has been my godsend gift. Imagine this...early 2000's Calcutta, a young pigtailed girl having a huge crush on her maths teacher waiting eagerly for "Shudhu Tomari jonnyo"- the weekly dose of star crossed love stories on Etv Bangla every Sunday. The gawky teenager watches and develops further crushes on Parambrata, the lanky young guy as he was then, not the very handsome man that he is today, and Jishu Sengupta. Ah! I think it is not only my story. But then her parents decide that Cable television is too much of a disturbance for studies and decides to disconnect from the network.

Sigh! what does the girl do if she has not yet been able to know the outcome of the remaining episodes of the season? She simply finds them on youtube many summers a distant foreign land :) And that is the reason I think youtube you were one of the best things to happen in this era of technology. In some context , it s a time machine also. Of course I did not decide to restrict my curiosities to only watching "Shudhu tomari jonnyo"... I of course went back to the good old Doordarshan days when "Superhit Muqabla" was the coolest thing to happen to me and "Phulwari Bacchon ki" (especially the episode in Fatehpur Sikri") was a dream come true. And then "Tehkikat", "Suraag" and what not! My god! a treasure trove of my childhood. I actually read up on the reams of nostalgia available on the internet surrounding DD. And there I discovered "Wagle ki Duniya". The original airing time of the show did not actually coincide with my childhood. I must be around 2 or 2 and a half years only when the original episodes were shown. I decided to watch the episodes to see what was all the jazz about. I watched only the ones available on Youtube and I am not sure if I am qualified enough to comment since not all the episodes are available online. However, I decided to go ahead as the "common man" today in my eyes have gone a sea changes from the values that Mr. Wagle bore during those pre liberalisation days.

(Image Courtesy:

To start with Mr Wagle did not have to bear with the computers. That made his sons' childhoods colorful as they are shown playing a lot of cricket, reading comic books, doing a lot of puzzles and stuff. But poor Mr Wagle also did not known the joys of the internet and Google. In one of the episodes he had to literally chase down a few acquaintances to gather information about planning a vacation somewhere nearby. Sounds a bit unrealistic in today's time when hotels are pre booked over the internet :). But as a 90's kid I remember all those family vacations every year where atleast once we had to tag around our fathers looking for a decent hotel. Must have been irritating then...but happy memories now! Reservation was good, but then again my dad had to go and stand in queue in front of the Railway booking office in Koilaghat Street for booking a railway ticket. There was no internet and more importantly no IRCTC website to make fun about also :)

I am not sure if the series ran further, how would  have been the portrayal of  Mr Wagle's sons' growing up. May be they would have been the faces of post liberalisation India- A haven of service industry, which on one way is boom and also a bane for our country. The best gift of the turn in tide- smart jacketed corporate honchos who made flying abroad- which till yesterday was a dream for many into a regular habit for many middle class Indians. And that was the beginning of a change. While we keep on hearing about a soda ash factory coming up or the sound of the Company siren in the background, the story knits together an India which was still walking towards a future of manufacturing industries and industries of core competency.

I will not be a bore about how "simple living and high thinking" dominated the times. Everything was not good about it. We may be nostalgic choose to remember only the happier time, but it was also a time when unemployment was at its peak, a time when the household decisions revolved around the question  about whether to employ a domestic help or not...whether that will push the envelope for the family budget or not. We will have to agree that the common man or the Indian middle class lives a much more comfortable life today in the terms of monetary value. I am not so sure about the emotional security part. The part which belongs to the times of job security, 9 to 5 jobs, hesitation about whether to pay the bribe or not! Yes red tapism was a part of the culture of the times but so was the belief of the parents that their children will grow to see a much better India...probably the reason why MR and Mrs Wagle did not like their son eavesdropping on their conversation about paying bribe to a government servant.

I think the new improved shining India has done enough take away that belief. And I say so because, nowadays I see parent, rich and famous, some of them have earned their positions and they deserve every bit of it. They might not like their children to go through the same struggles they have been through, but that does not mean that the value of 'humility' will also be forgone. The sense that 'you can buy everything', that I think is a problem that the young India face. Come on! I could not have contained myself in that lowly 2 BHK residential quarter shown in the series...many of us would not have. And I am justified in asking for more...the anthem of our growing up years have been "yeh dil maange more"...and is asking for more a bit too much? It never should be...We are hungry as a nation, we are hungry for everything...and probably that's the reason our parents..the same ones who taught us to be better human beings, nowadays go to each other's houses, the ones they live in as a part of their own self built old age homes, and compare the successes of their wards in the terms of the pay packets earned, the number of foreign trips made and blah blah! Imagine this in the time of Rk Laxman's common man...there were neighbours, the prying ones and the 'neighbour's envy' was palapable, but then again the same ones let you borrow their binoculars or may be their hot pot also. Can you imagine if I thought of borrowing my neighbour's binoculars today? I will die of shame and buy a new pair. Probably that is the reason the neighbours who were once considered even dearer than your relatives and knew every bit of your household story, turn a deaf ear even when somebody is probably dead in the next apartment.

And what do we do in turn? We run....we run everyday...behind the much alluring success story never knowing that our parents who are alone in a city or a town, which might have been my hometown once, spending days and nights alone in our thoughts. Because where we come from often makes us feel ashamed..too constrained for the growth story.

But who says asking for more is bad?


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