Of monkey balloons, kulfis, tonga rides and the ferris wheel

Any one who has grown up in Mumbai and is even in his/her early 20s today would resonate with all of the above. In fact folks from Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore… would all have their teeny memory boxes stuffed with some of life’s simplest pleasures.

Why I quote the cities is because these very metropolitan shiny spaces have lost much of their sheen. What with most of these small sweet treats becoming almost extinct or even relegated to pockets of the city! Why does urbanization wipe out the real joys of life? And bring in pleasures that surely surprise, shock & awe and wow us but don’t build sweet bonds? Will the 9-yr old city bred of today remember (15 years from now) standing inside the airport waving goodbye as his Dad’s flight took off? He won’t. Because he possibly doesn’t go to the airport to drop his Dad off or then doesn’t know that there is a viewing gallery. His accompanying guardian is possibly already in a hurry to fulfill his/her next BB task. Life is really thriving on a task-to-task basis.

Does that mean the young ones have a different set of drivers, memories, stories… Possibly. But what is interesting is that brands have taken over, where real life has left off or diminished itself to a few. Scores of experiences & life like shows have been re-created over more than a decade, with the additional spice of fame & fortune thrown in. Some for the good & some not so…creating couch potatoes, late bloomers and what not.

So Antakshari among friends became a full blown competition on television

Music Nights & performances became SaReGaMa, Indian Idol and what not

Wheelies & street biking saw invitations to women and created the mega Roadies show

Joys of trekking, discovering the fearsome, new & exciting became Fear Factor & a host of travel shows

Obssessing and waiting for music albums & even the last Harry Potter book got an at home avatar with digital song downloads & Kindle/eBook reader on Android and so on

Aldiko eBook reader on Android


This is of course just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t deny that being inundated with these amazing possibilities has also made the growing up years more action oriented, rather than being merely immersive. But are these creating memories of beauty, nostalgia, sweet nothings of life, little city binders, collective joys….or then are they re-wiring the young to be more expectation oriented, mega appeal led, gizmo driven, a little cut-off and self obsessed?

Am curious to know what you think? This may be in the talk for possibly just the next few years before programmed television addicts, mobile slaves, technology lovers…find their world the only world. I did read though that losing oneself completely in screens small or big, is seeing a fatigue and need for real, sensorial stimulation.

A brand that took that as a brief onto itself was Ferrari. At the recently-opened Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, visitors are invited to experience multisensory immersion into the sights, sounds and smells of Ferrari’s Italian heritage and rides that simulate the G-force of Formula 1 racing. Now that I like…something to remember surely for a while.

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi (Video quality is average. Best I could get)

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  1. While I agree that it is the tonga rides and kulfi vendors that have chiselled the personality of cities, and seeing them disappear is like urbanization at its worst, I think, and as radical/harsh as this might sound, brands that find a way to romance technology,help people embrace urbanization and pep up life 2.0, will be secretly cherished and loved in time to come. Brands that dwell on nostalgia will be loved for a short burst, but will lose to the former.

  2. Hi Sandhya. Nice writing. I couldn’t agree more with the unhealthy turn of cities little cultures. I would think that people in their 50s would have more little episodes to quote from their memory too. Genext would have no compunctions.
    But it’s the way societies evolve. Like Victorian furniture became outdated & ikea took over as new. Don’t all ikea homes look the same…does it matter? It wont be long b4 some of these becom museum pieces. Or then mayb a revival is around the corner.

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