The first time I encountered the word “Nostalgia” was while watching TV, switching through the magical portal called a remote control and coming across ESPN. They had a show called “Nostalgia India”. I did not know what the word meant but it had a nice ring to it, it rhymed. And as Vir Das said, we Indians like anything that rhymes. Although it is more of a human trait.
Coming to human traits, how about visiting the most travelled place in the world — the past. It certainly is my favourite place to visit.
Sometimes, I am transported to the days when I used to roam around with innocence during my primary school. Sometimes, it’s a memory just a few months old. And sometimes, it gets triggered while watching a movie or a photo. Other times, it’s a smell or sound that takes me back.
But sometimes, and I don’t know if it sounds weird, I sometimes visit the places that I haven’t lived in the first place. For e.g. I am a sucker for books like India Unbound and Truth, Love & a Little Malice(by Khushwant Singh), which takes me to the India of the ’60s and ’70s, or sometimes even pre-independence.
It is also the cheapest and fastest way to travel. A few days back, on a whim, I was going through textbooks of the current 6th and 7th standard and I started to remember about my time during those days.
I realized I am a huge sucker for the 90s era pop songs as well. Why? Nostalgia. They transport me back to the 90s when our attention was not captured by “smart” devices everywhere.
But why does this happen? One reason I can point out is predictability. Future is unknown and present is boring. Then why not revisit the memories?
Another reason might be that nostalgia is always associated with good memories. And instead of thinking about an uncertain future, why not dwell on just the good aspects of the past. I mean, unless some tragic situation, you can’t go wrong with childhood memories. Everyone has those memories of the good times when they were kids.
As a child, I used to daydream a lot. Growing up, surrounded by phones and attention-grabbing suckers, that has reduced. And at that time, I regarded daydreaming as a problem because apart from my mother, I had never seen anyone mumbling and talking to imaginary people and objects.
But today, when my job demands me to think and imagine fictitious characters, that problem seems like a superpower.
So, in conclusion, Birbal, maar diya jaaye yaa chod diya jaaye? Mai kehta hun aur badhaya jaaye. Someone said that if you had a good childhood, you don’t need anything else to write good stories. Well, then nostalgia trips should be marked under research.