This post was inspired by writing about my late grandfather, and the title is a literal translation of a Hindi slang “पुराने ज़माने के लोग थे”.
This slang “पुराने ज़माने के लोग थे” is used often to express that the older generation had the capacity to do certain things in a certain way that made Herculean tasks like a piece of cake. I used to wonder why it was such a big thing. We are so much affected by our environment created by human beings for human beings and funnily against human beings including all living things.
Coming to my Grandfather, he was one of the victims of the partition in India. No matter what happened around the country he struggled fought and did his best to provide a family of two sons and a daughter. He worked in the railways, roamed around India and no matter what the circumstances, he made the best out of the challenges he faced. He further bought a franchise of Harnik agencies. If one has had a sweet cigarette commonly know as Phantom cigarettes or chocolate dollars, Harnik agencies were the one that manufactures them. He basically created opportunities to survive with the pupose of making kids happy. Saved penny by penny, made the refugee plot as a bungalow to accommodate a big family and maintained relationships.He had a great routine of waking up early, exercising, finishing off dinner before the sun hit the good night button, had a very disciplined way of life.
Being with him always made me revisit a lot of things by just a quirky joke, a story line, or by just even sitting and watching a cricket match (which was always enjoyable with his cursing and swearing). Spending time with him always gave me a new perspective.
Our way of seeing the world was so different, an actual conversation with him would be
Grandad: Son, You should sleep early, wake up early and should do “Surya Namaskar”, you should respect the Sun.
Grandson: But Dada, I stay awake all night and wait for the Sun to arrive, and with his presence, I pay respect to him and then sleep. That’s the devotion I have for the almighty Sun.
My Grandfather used to be simply amused at me and called me “ullu” which means fool as well as an owl. I would like to represent myself as an owl though. Despite our diversity in the thought process, we enjoyed our time together. We always had a joke to share and used to play cards with him. He always had a belief and acted that I would do something better for this world. It was magical. Time is a very weird thing, it’s very relative when we enjoy or have a good time, we never know how fast time passes by. Even though I enjoyed so much with him, I still miss him and up to this day and I still, find it hard to digest the fact he is no more.
During his last days, even though when he was suffering, he still had the presence of mind to know what is going on around him. Even the doctors and nurses who were treating him got attached to him. He used to often tell his life story, his journey, even though the millennials like me used to get irritated, it’s something I really miss listening to. I started to realise how well built the foundation of his character has been, and it’s not only with my grandfather, it’s with almost every grandparent. They seem to have a charisma that is so catchy, childish yet so mature. Till his dying breath, he still worked around it, took his time to heal and made sure he could at least walk. But who can test Oh! Almighty Death. Probably, I wouldn’t realise the importance of my time with him if it weren’t for death.
If I had to put my feet into his shoes, I barely could have survived the initial part of the life he faced. I often wonder what are the qualities and behavioural traits that set an individual apart from the rest of them? Was it because of the inbuilt personality traits, or he nurtured and actively worked on those traits, or he was put into a difficult situation at an early age that made him so strong, mature and awesome. I like to believe it was a combination of everything. It is focusing on the positive side of the challenge, building positive habits, inculcating them, and keeping yourself motivated. The people of old generation comprised of sheer willpower, never give up attitude and most importantly being humble. These are the three main characteristics that I believe could complete the Herculean tasks we face in life or even living a fulfilling life.
As Fred Rogers ended an episode talking about death, “It’s funny but it’s true, it’s the same isn’t for me, isn’t it the same for you”. There are so many people and stories around us who are living examples of these basic simple values. Even we can do this if only we take and effort to work these simple qualities.
Thank you for going through the memory lane with me. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.