Thursday, October 28, 2021

Remember when a shilling felt like a million


East Africa … that was life! And we loved it!


A short story of Goans of East Africa (2021 version...worth a read. A carefree life in East Africa. This is how we Goans grew up in East Africa !!! What a life it was! We were innocent, frank and straight with people at home, at school and within the community and society.

Our childhood was like an adventure. No school loans, grants, financial aid or scholarships. Instead, it was filled with lots of fun, excitement, enthusiasm, trust, expectation, commitment and responsibility. Although not so very easy - always filled with some hardship - life was beautiful and excellent.!!!

Our love and respect for our parents was second to none, and our respect for our teachers and elders in the community and society was in our genes. We integrated socially and culturally with people from all religions, class or creed.

In essence, we enjoyed life.!!! All the wonderful kids who were born in the wonderful East Africa and survived the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's. The present-day nappies, diapers and liners were never heard of! We bounced ourselves without a bouncer and slept peacefully without a baby-cot.

We sucked cow milk from a soda bottle without it being sterilised or warmed in a bottle warmer. We slept during our sleep times, be it day or night without monitors or beepers. There were no child-proof lids on medicine bottles, nor locks on doors or cabinets. We rode our bikes without helmets, gloves and guards.

As children we would ride in cars which had no child safety door-locks, seat belts or airbags. Sometimes we even sat on each other's laps!!! We shared one soft drink with jugus in it, among four friends, from the same bottle and NO ONE actually died from that.

We would share bhajias, mogo chips and dips or ate chapatti and rice from someone else's plate of curry without batting an eyelid. The best was a rolled roti with sprinkled sugar. We had raw mangoes with salt that set our teeth on edge or a grilled makaai and mogo and drank orange squash. We ate at roadside stalls, drank madafu water, ate everything that was "bad" for us from karangaa, kachri, makaai, mhogos, chana bateta, bhel puri to maru's bhajias and samosas. Yet we weren't overweight nor fell sick.

We were always outside playing freely and burning our calories keeping fit, fine and happy. During holidays we would leave home in the morning and were allowed freedom all day, as long as we were back home at a given time - never later than 7 pm - wearing our rubber slippers from Bata. We dare not be late.!!!

We were innovative and creative and made kites using old newspapers, playing traditional games like bantas, santa kukdi, pakda/pakdi, hututu, football and gilli-danda. We were taught to be content with what we had. We played, ran and walked barefoot without being concerned about it. If we got cut and bled, we used tincture of iodine or spirit on the wound and that was ok for us. We did not wash our hands ten times a day. And we were OK.!!!

We did not have Play Stations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, video games, 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround-sound, mobile phones, desk top pcs, laptops, I-Pods or I-Pads ! No internet or internet chat rooms, no TV, no hi-fi or Wi-fi!! We just simply made do with a 2 or 3 band Radio placed in the family sitting room to be shared by all.!!! We ate what was put in front of us. No menu, no choice, no fuss, no waste and no leftovers.!!!

After dinner every night in almost every household the school-going children had to recite the Times-tables from 2 to 12 before going to bed !!! We had very loving, caring and wonderful friends. Their loving parents, whom we fondly called UNCLE and AUNTY, treated us no differently from their own children !!! Fruits fallen from trees on the ground, never washed were eaten without a second thought - and yet we never had any viruses or infections of any kind.!!!

We were used to bathing using a bucket, a koppo and Lifebuoy soap. We did not know what a shampoo, conditioner or a body wash was... Bicycles were ridden everywhere in town with someone sitting on the carrier or the cross bar to school, cinema or playgrounds.

This generation of ours has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem-solvers, inventors, winners and most successful people ever! The past 50 years has seen an explosion of innovation and new ideas with mostly successes.!!! We had patience, understanding, discipline, respect, maturity, wisdom, motivation, commitment and responsibility.

Above all we learned and survived the hard way guided by our parents and grandparents, who oversaw our development with their experience, guidance, encouragement and blessings.!!!!! Worth passing this on to others who have had the good fortune to grow up in East Africa. Those were the days … 

(these days, we call it nostalgia, once it was just a way of life, no need for labels, hey we did not know life required a label, but we will always celebrate the memories). PS, apologies for the some of the spellings … could be sus!



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