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My childhood

Without the smart phones and computers I think we (80s kids) had fantastic childhood. I can’t remember much of anything before starting school but I remember how I could not get school admission (class PP) at 7 years because my right hand could not reach my left ear. Those days school admissions were done like that and not on the basis of a child’s age. My dad was okay with me not getting admission so I started school only when I was 8 years old. Kids today would have reached 4th (or 5th) standard at this age.
In class 2, a classmate of mine, an older girl, has caught me red handed taking khaini (a tobacco product) in school. She has threatened to expose me. I must have started before then because I remember quitting after this incident. Going to school was not very common then especially in the villages, most of the older kids have dropped out of primary school. That may have been the reason why we always bunked school and went to hospital without any sickness. At the hospital the excuse was always diarrhoea. We take the ORS (oral rehydration solution) from the hospital and play the entire day. The next day we show the prescription to the teacher and get by.
At home we had to do basic household chores like fetching water and firewood, feeding cows and pigs etc. During winter vacation, which used to be 3 months then, we spent the entire holiday fetching firewood, stocking for the summer. Unlike today when kids go to Bangkok or Siliguri etc for vacation. A basket (made of bamboo) of firewood used to take the entire day. We used to reach home only in the evening to a cold rice and frozen curry (frozen because we used dalda as cooking oil then). To heat means to make fire in the traditional way in the absence of LPG stove. After school hours, we played a lot. Unlike my son today who is on a house arrest. He is almost 6 years yet he cannot go and buy chocolates for himself, says he is scared of the dogs. We had no such scruples; we were socially comfortable, one advantage of not having smart phones, the internet or TV. That’s why we were always in hurry to get home after school. On the way, we used to chase tourists. Once they stop to say hi, in our limited English, we used to say, ‘take photo’ ‘take photo’.. if they do we then say ‘take address’. Fortunately for us, they always would have a pen and writing pad with them. We give them our school address and the pictures come by post several days or weeks later. I have some of those pictures even today.
When I was in class 1 or 2, my friend’s’ class teacher used to dismiss the class before my teacher did. They always waited for me and I used to get impatient. I remember saying to my class teacher ‘madam go home?’ And her response was often ‘Peday, is your baby crying at home?’
Despite bunking school frequently, I was good academically. I used to come in the top 3 in Lango Pry School. My dad let me and my older sister a watch a movie as a reward for passing the exam. A second position or just-passed means the same thing to parents then. 
I forgot to mention electricity came to my town during my childhood too. The first time electric bulbs were lit, we had tough time adjusting our eyes to the sudden brightness. Well not many people own video monitors then. So a movie screening (almost always Hindi movie) would be house full. A movie cost Nu. 3 per head. Eighties kids would remember the video cassettes and how one had to rewind the cassettes if the same movie is to be seen again. I remember vividly how my dad used to give us Nu. 1 each day for school. Not many were well off then especially in the villages. Money value was high and money was rare in the family. Therefore a Nu. 1 can fetch a Nu. 10 worth today. 
Two funny incidents worth a mention. First one, somebody has spread a rumor that the earth is going to cease its existence and we were all going to die that night. That day the village elders have all gone to the local market to buy groceries, meat and kerosene. We had a sumptuous dinner that night and camped outside for the night waiting for death which never came. In the morning we woke up to another day. To this day, I have no idea how our elders have believed in such a nonsense.
second incident happened when some of us, children and adults, were talking outside at a meeting point nearby my house when huge gigantic baloon popped out from behind the mountains followed by many such baloons of varied colors. We were so scared, assumed they have come to kill us. Only when they landed on the ground on the other side of the Paro Chhu we could breathe a sigh of relief. Later that day we learnt those baloons were parachutes and those people tourists. 
Amid the difficult circumstances, I had a wonderful early childhood. I think our generation are the cross-border of the olden days and the modern world; we get to experience a bit of both..

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