Hindustan times

The best decade to grow up was ’90s.

Here’s why


Written by

Jyoti Sharma Bawa

designed by

Vignesh Radhakrishnan


If Facebook is to be believed, people can be divided into several neat little categories. Depending on the decade you grew up in (60s, 70s, 80s etc), you are all a different species only cohabiting on this planet till Facebook comes up with a better alternative.


We got all of that by being the lucky recipient of a million different mails telling me exactly this. As a firm believer of if you can’t beat them, join them, here’s our list of what it meant to be growing up in the ’90s. And you know what, this list making IS addictive.


You don’t agree with us? Well, go through this list and decide for yourself. If this list doesn’t bring a strong attack of nostalgia, you probably were not born in the ’90s. Your parents have just been lying to you all along.


Rukawat ke liye khed hai

Bored of those million channels that are telecast live in your home? Well, remember a time when we had just two and their most popular programme was ‘rukawat ke liye khed hai’? It even beat Krishi Darshan hollow in terms of followers. There were kids who got cable TV in their houses in early ’90s, we hated them and their Bold and Beautiful reruns.



You know why we prized ‘rukawat ke liye khed hai’? Because it came after hours of hand-to-hand combat with our belligerent TV antennas.  This is how this fight was conducted: a person on terrace slowly turned antennae in every direction imaginable, while one person in front of the TV shouted instructions: “aa gaya; arre nahi thoda left le”.

Sometime in mid-90s, we got a cable guy to do this for us. The quality of broadcast was still crappy.



What do you do when your motorcycle/TV/mixer-grinder does not work? Buy a new one. Well, back then, we gave our electrical appliances a hard slap. It made them work and we called it jugaad. The elderly DTC buses on road and government offices also worked thanks to this principle. No scratch that: government offices didn’t work then either.


Old phones

Believe it or faint, there were no mobile telephones once. In fact, even fixed lines were distributed like IPL's VIP tickets. Those who had cordless phones would go flaunt them on balconies and outside their houses. Then, mobile phones came and hegemony of cordless phone owners ended. Mobile phone owners were worse.

Foreign travel

If you were loaded and you wanted to show it in the ’90s, what did you do? You went abroad. For kids, abroad was this forbidden land from which people came reeking of yummy ‘foreign-wali’ chocolates, wrist watches and clothes. They were way better than anything you ever got in India. But one thing you didn’t want were cousins from foreign. They had an accent, they got all the attention and they made fun of you for living in Indyeah.

Power cuts

Once upon a time before generators and 24-hours electricity backup made them uncool, we had power cuts. And unlike now, when power cuts mean sweat and mosquitoes, this was a magical time which meant all play and no studies. When light actually came back on, a big boo rose from the playground. And those of us who studied with candles got a halo, literally so


Our lives were not ruled by iPads, laptops and smartphones. Our play time was not spent in front of playstations or Xbox. Instead, summer holidays meant playing games such as hopscotch, hide and seek or cricket in the park. Sometimes at 2pm on a June afternoon and sometimes at 8pm on a chilly December night. Not bragging but did it make us more inventive than the smart kids today? Hell, yeah.

Summer holidays

Nobody went to Thailand. Nobody did Dubai. And Switzerland? Only Yash Chopra took his stars there. Instead, people went to visit relatives during summers. Shimla and Manali used to be the height of thinking big in terms of destination and a Goa trip would have sufficed for five summers. Instead, a visit to mamaji’s or buaji’s house in Ludhiana or Nagpur was what you got. There were unlucky souls whose mamaji and buaji lived in the same city.

Watching films

This was a complex enterprise. Going to theatre was a rare event which took place once in 6 months. Cool thing was to rent a VCR and the latest Mithun/Dharmendra/Govinda film and make it a mohalla event. Friends were invited as you discussed the merits of the film over nimbu paani. If you were super cool, you rented Schwarzenegger/Tom Cruise’s latest. Nobody understood a thing (American English was yet to catch on) but it made you the star.

10 people in one car

Very few people had cars and those few people had a lot (literally a LOT) of relatives. So, everybody just crammed into those cars and went out. So someone sat on your lap, and then someone else sat in that someone’s lap. If there was still space, you fitted in a kid. The other kids were fitted into the boot. You had to get your spine realigned after one of those visits but they were SO much fun!