Tuesday, December 13, 2005

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It was 7 in the evening. I was watching TV and Subs was browsing for laptop deals. There was a knock on the front door. Brought a stranger trying to sell magazines to our house. Brought delightful memories of childhood to my mind.

These are stories from a loooong looong time back. Many of you reading this blog might not even identify with the premise of this post. So the young ones like UI - lemme warn you in advance :D I must have been in the third or fourth standard then. Not too many people had telephones and the internet - duh! Yanyway! Those days everytime the door bell rang it would be a new found excitement for me and my sister. Especially in the evenings. Coz then we knew it wasn't the maid, or the milkman, or any those innumerable ladies trying to get old clothes in exchange for shiny cutlery. A knock or bell in the evening meant surprise guests ... and that spelt FUN. There was phenomenal anticipation associated with it. Was it any of the close uncles and aunts? A door knock instead of a door bell meant even more fun coz then it was probably a cousin who couldn't reach the bell. He would have ran up before his parents. Pummy and I would rush to the door and there was always excitement while opening it. Everybody had their own way of ringing the bell. Some pressed it for too long. Others played their own tunes. Mom and dad would often play a little guessing game as Pummy and I ran to find out who the winner was.

I remember the time when we put one of those safety chains to the door. It was literally like a surprise gift. As Mom opened the door partially, the face of the guest would get revealed. Our expressions would change accordingly. A relative or family friend with kids meant that we wouldn't have to study any more that evening. That brought a glee to our faces. Occasionally it would be a false call. Given the rectangular layout of our building, we often had lost folks trying to reach the other side. Oh, we hated them. But whatever it was, a knock on the door or a ring of the door bell was always fun.

Times have changed so much. Nobody is excited by these petty joys anymore. Everybody is super busy. Everybody has a cell phone. Surprise visits don't surprise no more. They scare us. Nobody wants to put in that much effort. It's so much safer to make the customary cell phone call before dropping in. At least then the food will be good. Sometimes I see my sister carefully screening her calls. "Don't pick the cell phone if it's XYZ. She wants to come over and go out for a movie. So don't pick the phone," she instructs.

Even in US things are different. I can't remember getting a surprise visit in ages. Why would anybody do it? People plan meetings three weeks in advance. "Hey, man. We haven't met in like ages. What say we go out for dinner next weekend?" "Sorry, dude! I have a Final the following week. What say the weekend after that?"

Times have changed. We have changed. Memories remain.

We use to specially like the ones that come with a Cadbury in their hands. Its double fun ... no more studies, no shouting and we will have some cadbury's too. what more can you ask for.
Quite aptly said.

Change is the only thing that remains unchanged.
I'll drop sometime between now and next year. See you then. Hope the food's good. I'm not a fan of seafood...
I don't like surprise visitors. Full stop.

Getting to the point where I won't like visitors.

Then the point where they'll have to sit under a sign saying "Visitors", with their entry passes and plastic smiles. And I'll drool and mouth gibberish at them. From behind a wire screen ...

:-) nice. Brought back memories. But then things were so much simpler then. Baba's friends would drop in anytime in the evening for a cup of cha made by boudi. Honestly, some of them were very irritating! And maa was perpetually stuck in the kitchen during weekends heating up saucepans of cha, one after other... especially in winters. And of course Baba would suddenly say - cholo aajke er baari hoye aashi on weekends... just like that. Times were much simpler.

Am not sure if i will be able to adjust to that anymore. We have changed so much ourselves. Cellphones, emails, we've gotten too used to them... not sure good or bad. Guess thats just the way things move. :-)
i got a surprise visitor (with gifts, no less) just the day before yesterday :)
What about the one's who came without kids in tow and insisted on pulling your cheeks. I hated that lot of dida's and dadu's.
I think we still have these surprise visits going in India. people drop in without a phone call and expect you to be around. And if you were out they will call you up accusingly and make it sound like it was your fault that you weren't around when they dropped by. I think the US has changed me in a lot of ways. I wouldn't dream of dropping in on anyone without calling up to make sure that it won't be a problem.
Today, esp in the West, ppl are so bz that evening time is family time, time to relax. That's why I think most ppl like to be warned beforehand if someone is coming over, so they can get in the 'mode'. Tidy houses, cook something presentable and so on. I think desi ppl make a bigger issue of having something good to eat when ppl especially those that are not too close come over. So it's only a good idea to call beforehand.

Ofcourse there's ppl that will religiously NEVER call before coming, interpreting it as a sign of closeness. To each his own.
@sunita - oh and gems was a major delight too - aah now you have made me even more nostalgic :)

@sushir - true, very true :)

@ttg - i might go out for a movie then :D call me on my cell :)

@jap - lol! the visitor sign thing sounds awesome :)

@aparna - thankfully for me all of dad's children less friends used to drop in during the day when i was anyway playing with my friends :)

@teleute - and as i reply to your comment we are discussing the visitor :)

@anyesha - and then said "ema tumi koto boro hoye gecho" :)

@m - yeah! US has changed me too. often i just wanna sit alone at home in the evenings - a few years back that was an impossibility :(

@mezba - true - a lot of people feel and felt that walking in to someone's house was a sign of how comfortable they are with that person
Lovely post!
I beg to differ about the conclusin, because though the bell in the evening has gone, the microsecond between the cellphone ringing and the looking at the screen, between the "you have new mail" and the details of the mail...have taken over. We still brighten up for the unexpected, we just look for it elsewhere!
ah, shaggy dadu.. even if im not old enuff to reminicise about those surprise visit... it still was in very much vogue whn i was a kid... will more of a kid than im now. those frends of dads who'd all produced babys when my parents had came over with kids my age of theirs and it was surprise adda sessions. we'd do the same sometinmes. and it was mostly on sundays. so we'd wonder who would come over this sunday, or where we'd go. the traditions very much alive inspite of cell phones and free landline rates. hehe.
word verification: cotou
Lovely post Sagnik...and true - yes the memories remain of spontaneous visits, both good and bad ones :-))
"Brought a stranger trying to sell magazines to our house."

ahh reminds me of some cretain magazines which brings delightful memories of childhood to my mind. :D

as for a cell,no i don't have one,
and as for guests all the people who come over are my parents same old friends and very old people (friends of grandparents) thus..........
I was searching for "Parineeta" - the book, not the movie, and stumbled into your blog... I was going thru' the archives... found it to be quite absorbing and could relate to what you wrote ( maybe because we are from the same time). This one is quite old, still I couldn't stop myself from commenting... the doorbell ring, the clink of the iron gate(specially in the evenings), The sound of stopping of a car(in an otherwise still winter evening)in front of your gate.. these are so precious memory from childhood which filled our minds with excitement, anticipation that can't be described. That innocence of surprise guests is gone now.. If you drop in unannounced its like a crime.
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