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The Good Old Days?

Since the air is thick with sentimental reminiscence for the’90s thanks to the ubiquity of millennial content creators, we can’t help but yearn for the decade in all its kitschy, analog glory. As Verve pays homage to the era during which it was launched, Akhil Sood provides a reality check to remind us that while fondly looking back may be soothing, necessary even, it’s important to snap back to the present and keep our eyes trained on the future…

Akhil Sood
When I was still in school, a bunch of my friends’ dads used to walk around with stubby pagers strapped to their belts. They were hideous. At the time, I used to wonder why my dad didn’t own one. “Are we,” gasp, “poor?” I questioned occasionally. A quick primer for anyone who’s not a fossil: pagers are ancient 20th-century devices that people used to own in a pre-cell-phone world. I don’t remember what it is they did exactly, but they did something. I think they were like cell phones except that you couldn’t make or receive calls on them. And you couldn’t play Snake either. The closest things we had back then were the toy walkie-talkies for children. Oh, and cordless phones.

It’s become an internet catchphrase now: “Only ’90s kids will get this!” Attach any pointless relic from a bygone era to a post on social media, caption it with a nudging-winking sentimentality, and you’ll get thousands of young adults reminiscing over childhoods they remember fondly. And it needs to stop. Pagers. Nataraj pencils. Ramayan on TV on Sundays. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Gaudy music videos on MTV. Floppy disks. Friendship wristbands, slam books and FLAMES. Sachin Tendulkar in Sharjah. Tazos and trump cards. WWF. That ‘blip-bloop’ sound your computer made when you connected to the internet using a landline. The Walkman. The Discman. Contra. It all needs to stop.

This is what our grandparents used to do when we were young: they’d prattle on endlessly about how much cheaper everything used to be back in their day, until we begged them to shut up. And here we are now, doing the exact same thing.

I should confess that I’m being a tad disingenuous here. I understand nostalgia intimately, and I’m well aware of its irresistible lure. Put two beers in me, fill up the room with people I grew up with, and I will probably spend the entire evening rhapsodising about Mango Bite, Tu Tu Main Main and that Onida ad or something, and how being in my thirties totally sucks.

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January-February 2019

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