Ditch the iPads! The OG childhood influences deserve a fitting comeback

The word ‘cool’ is forged in the furnace of life, and tempered by life experience. As a kid, this furnace is under construction. So you use it for everything and everybody — from the problematic bro clan to the rich brats in the schoolyard. Whatever the hell it meant back in the days, this ‘cool’ feeling leaves so many people insecure about constantly having to fit in today.

Luckily, a clan of daredevils from the foggy front-lines of peppy youth liberated us. They were the job-weilding elder cousins and college-going uncles & aunts of the generation.

In an era when kids weren’t ‘woke’ enough to make their own financial, fashion & food choices, these deep-cover operatives were a teenager’s OG gateway into the ‘cool’ underworld— powered by white lies, occasional petty cash & a heck lot of daring.

A kid’s primary foes are his/her parents — the ones setting the ‘rules’, the ‘budget’ and most importantly, the ghastly study hours. Kids hate that. This is when you need a fellow rebel you can ‘let loose with’, even if it only meant an extra ice-cream scoop or another glass of lip-smacking Lassi. These adults could never match the sheer money muscle of the ‘bossy elders’, but through them, you scored your ‘pyrrhic victory’ — your square inch of freedom in this adult wasteland.

They knew when the household slept, where the top food haunts are and how to operate the morbidly obese CRT TVs & Tape Recorders. Armed with sluggish Windows 95 desktops, creaky type-writers and Nokia 5185 phones, they were the family’s tech wizards.

They were everything you wanted to be — smarter, taller & nerdier.

The 90s meant liberalisation — of the economy, and the mind. Young adults could now immerse themselves in the legends of Phantom, Tintin & Asterix, just as they fawned over Pran’s Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo & Pinky or Bengal’s staple Shuktara & Anandamela. Konami’s 8-bit Contra, $1 fake copies of the Nintendo Gameboy and pirated PC games from around the world such as Metal Gear Solid, Age Of Empires & Road Rash were flooding the market, and into young Indian hands.

Your Walkman held both Cliff Richard’s Private Collection and Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai comfortably, and to ‘drop a hint’ you could either croon Venga Boys’ ‘Want A Kiss When The Sun Goes Down’ or Lucky Ali’s ‘O Sanam’ — the choice was yours. It was bonkers in teen fantasyland.

A truly fulfilling aunt/uncle-niece/nephew relationship is one of pure indulgence; all of the fun, and far few anxieties. It's about realising no matter how broke you are, you can always splurge on the simple joys of life, like a Bapuji Cake ($0.041) — a half-a-century old sugary dollop of delight.

In today’s age of YOLO, FOMO and whatever four-letter acronym we come up with, we’re perpetually crippled by the fear of not fitting in and not being ‘cool’ enough. While it may be way too late for the adults, we can save the kids from this epidemic.

If you’re a millennial parent worried sick about raising your kids well — take away the iPads, and replace them with a bunch of cool aunts and uncles. They may not be the adults a kid ‘needs’, but they sure as hell are the ones every kid deserves…