Friday, 17 August 2012

Food, friends & Thums Up

This post is part of Pavarti. K. Taylor's Community Blog Tour series, August 16 - 19 
On asking myself the question – what does community mean to me? – my mind sorted through various files in my mind’s eye, searching for a relevant match. Casting back through memories over the last few months, years and decades, after a few false alarms it stopped at a very specific childhood memory. I must have been aged about eleven or twelve, just entering the wild teenage years, but my hormones—I can assure you—were already running amuck. Colour Television had just been introduced into India, and with it the first breed of advertisements made in India for an Indian audience too. The ad which stuck in my mind was that of a local aerated soft-drink called Thums Up. The jingle went something like this “Happy Days are here again….Food, Friends & Thums Up.” It showed a bunch of teenagers initially sitting bored around a dining table and then rejoicing when Thums Up appears in their hands at which point they proceed to eat, drink & make merry. Wow! How happy they looked to be together, just being young and foolish. In contrast I felt already grown up, with the weight of the world on my shoulders. The high-school exams (SSC—School leaving certificate exams as we called it) loomed around the corner and evenings were spent swotting over my books, while peering out through the window at boys playing cricket in the playground below.  Truth be told, that’s where I would have preferred to be, running around the block madly, expending energy, feeling that rush of exhilaration in being chased as my rough, curly, hair streamed behind me, my legs pumping, to get away, always running, running…. Away from what? That’s a good question, the answer to which I still don’t know to this day.
Thums Up
In contrast to the freedom that lapped at the threshold of our nice, middle class, apartment in Andheri, Bombay, my parents led a sparse existence on the inside. Of course it is because they were so careful with money in those days that they managed to put the two of us—their  daughters through post-graduate education—yet  it did not negate the fact that they seemed not to have many friends either. My authoritarian father had decreed us to be of a more superior species than the children of the neighbours around us. We had strict orders not to bring friends home—lest their mundane, mediocre tastes corrupt our loftier life-paths and drag us back into the ordinariness of a run-of-the-mill existence. Perhaps that is why I was pushed to reach for something more outside of a predictable trajectory. Perhaps… but in those moments of on-the-brink-of-adolescent  moodiness, I would have given up all my future in a flash to be friends, around a table somewhere, monkeying around, throwing potato-chips at each other and laughing my guts out for tomorrow simply did not exist.
One of Thums Up's later campaigns.
I still like the freedom it symbolises.
Yep , I really am a Young Adult.
Today the Thums Up has been replaced with a fresh, bubbly, sparkling, prosecco, my favourite sip. Along the way I’ve also merged my path with a husband with a dry sense of humour who completely cracks me up almost every second that I spend with him, a warm small circle of real friends who sometimes come over for a barbecue in the back garden & a wide virtual friends around the universe who drop in all hours un-announced, united as we are with a shared passion for expressing ourselves through the written word and a courage of conviction which pushes us to put ourselves out there tirelessly, minute after minute after minute so that our voices are amplified to reach those who are ready to hear us.
 Now that is true community for me.
PS. I searched in vain for an image from the Food, friends & Thums Up campaign from the eighties-nineties. I couldn’t find the exact image I was looking for, so if you do come across the one I am referring to, do email it to me at laxmihariharan@yahoo.com. However I did come across this Thril Ad with Rati Agnihotri, and another classic with Imran Khan/ Sunil Gavaskar, which you may recall too.  

That vintage Thril Ad, with Rati Agnihotri
Another classic.
Remember this one with Imran Khan & Gavaskar?
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About me: I was born in India and lived in Singapore and Hong Kong before being based in London. I am inspired by Indian mythology. When not writing, I enjoy long walks in the woods, growing eye catching flowers and indulging my inner geek. My debut novel The Destiny of Shaitan is available on Amazon http://tiny.cc/szqsew. Reach me here:
Twitter: @laxmi

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