As the year 2021 heads toward the closing line, memories of the past months replay songs on mixed thoughts. With the pandemic still holding us by the throat, there are realizations that life could be worse. At least we have vaccines, and life is not at a complete standstill. Thank you, God, for not taking us to the point of no return.
The last of the summer crickets fill the evening's quiet hours and take me to days when life was simpler and happiness was defined with lesser worldly things. I remember the song I heard from Mary Hopkins, "Those were the days my friend/ We thought we would never lose/ We sing and dance forever and a day."
Think of newspaper. Remember those days when one of the chief delights to be shared at the breakfast table was the day's newspaper? There was an art in opening the paper to have the front page and the headlines to start reading it. The shuffling of the crisp paper and a distinct papery smell around it was a part of the breakfast table. There was a saying that a gentleman's day began with a newspaper. The concept of catching up with the latest news remains, but our ways have changed. It's gadgets like phones, I-Pad, or computers and their screens that bring the world to their fingertips. Once browsing on the screen, we get lost in the Internet, endless sources to open our minds to happenings of the world. Perhaps 'old school' people stick to papers; they do the paperbacks and not the online reading, want to hold and feel the reading materials as they read. And countless others have no access to the Internet or newspapers at all.
Breakfast: The old-fashioned self loves breakfast the way it has been for generations in the family, some bread, eggs, and tea. We cherished the solid early morning meal. The best part was the beverages of steaming tea and coffee to wake us up for the day. The wholesome bread, butter, and eggs, the new trend, are for smoothies and shakes. The health-conscious people have spinach, kale, fruits, protein powder, and other healthy stuff and blend them. Shakes and smoothies make life easier to get nutrition in the body without cutting, cooking, and chewing them. In the long run, though, I wonder how good that is. Or is it one of that health-fad that will change, and people will go back to the old ways of eating food, whole and cut ones that need more chewing? While there is no offense meant, the science of healthy eating has been a perplexing one forever. The other day I came across an expert's advice on eating crunchy food for the teeth and gums, taking enough fibers for the stomach muscles to work and stay stronger. One would seem old school, but the weekends and having sizzling omelet with toast or paratha, pancake, and bacon on toast: food warm and filling makes the week. As Maria, a school teacher, says, "My daughter prepares her shake at night and in the morning grabs it from the fridge on her way to work. Life is hectic, but what is this baby-like liquid food every day? I don't understand. Her father was a busy doctor, and yet he ate a proper breakfast every morning. There are superfoods that people will chase to no end as if there are no other edible things to keep them healthy."
This generation gap takes us, the old school, through puzzling journeys with the upbeats of modern lifestyles. Mothers are mystified with the changes of time and tide with their children and grandchildren. On the other hand, there are toothless grandparents and great parents who are glad that shakes and smoothies got invented and can get proper nutrition in the body without having to chew much. The world is a jolly good place for those who move with the waves.
There is also the family gathering at the dinner or other meal times. Life gets busier and busier, and it seems at times, all we say is "Hi" and "Bye" to the family members. Life may be slower in developing nations or the least developed countries, and people still connect at home before rushing out. But it makes us wonder if we are too fast for our good, are we going to crash with too much speed in our life?
The song of Tagore saying "Dhire, dihre bow ogo utol haowa" ( Oh wind, please blow with gentleness). It is the wind that accompanies great catastrophes like storms and cyclones. Dating: Do you remember the days when the first kiss of love took place beneath a moonlit sky? When two people in love waited to hold and kiss each other in a tangible world? They had to meet in person, look into each other's eyes, and love would find its absolute magic. Those were the long-gone days of romance. Like many other intangible aspects of life in the modern world, we depend much more on "I love you." And it may be a video, audio, or a phone call. Alas! The tangible ways, holding hands or the kisses, may come long after people have agreed to be soul mates on the Earth.
There is nothing wrong with greeting cards on the Internet since much of our lives depend on the virtual world. E-cards are faster, affordable, and easier to send. Once again, we lose the personal touch of the hand. The thoughts on the Internet may be just as powerful, yet for the old schools like me, I am happy when someone sends me a card in the mail.
Those were the days when life was what it is not today. The list of likes and dislikes of days gone can grow longer, but the moments lost shall never be found again. We could only rewind and replay past instances and accept the new ways with the trust that there is One up there making all the plans despite all we do.
Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA