Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Poster Child

I was in the bus, on my way to work this morning, watching people, when a bygone memory from more than two decades ago made me nostalgic. We used to live in a little town, little enough that very few buses took you around, but big enough that the ride to school took about 45 minutes every morning. Every day, my sister and I would hop at the back of the cycle-rickshaw, enjoying the cool breeze and lack of traffic very early in the morning. And all through that ride, our favorite pastime was to count the number of cinema posters of Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, the two prominent actors in Bollywood. I was a non-supporter, but since sister was an Aamir supporter, my default poster counting went for Shah Rukh. 

We had rules too. Big time. When one of us would be losing, we would make impromptu rules, like the actor has to be visible on the poster to count. Or, we could not count posters that were old, and hidden beneath newer posters. And there was a way of counting too. Whenever we spotted one, the person would shout- Aamir 1, or Shah Rukh 12, making Raju Bhai, the rickshaw puller chuckle. Sometimes, when we felt generous, we would help the other person locate posters. But if we were our default mean selves, we would just say- "Hey, you just missed that poster on the wall, but since you cannot see it now, you cannot count it."

I do not see any point to this game now, but for strengthening counting abilities (it was already strong, I was in the eighth or ninth grade, my sister in the second grade), getting familiar with movie names like English Babu Desi Mem, Guddu, and Zamaana Dewaana, and just staying engaged during the long ride. The game was so pointless, so without any agenda, that it was good. So good that years later, I think about it and feel nostalgic, wishing that I could still be counting movie posters on my way to work now.


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