Sitting in a lavish car with your eyes glued to the mobile screen does not give you the same pleasure as of riding on the back of your grandfather does. When his head covers the best part of your chest and you see through the silver hair – the world with its varied hues. The aerial view sends frequent chills down the spine as you hover around the passers-by and automobiles. The chit chat remains the only constant with the continuously changing scene around.
I still vividly remember such adventurous rides with my grandfather, especially during the festive season. He would make me mount his shoulders and take me to the market to buy groceries. While he meticulously chose the household items, I would drool over the sumptuous candies and chocolates on the glass shelves. At the billing counter, the shop owner would pinch me on my cheek and offer a mango candy, and I would reciprocate with a hearty smile. From there we would go to buy vegetables. The scene at the vegetable market had a peculiar fascination for me. The vendors splashing water on the showcased vegetables to keep them fresh gave me immense joy. After a great deal of negotiation with the vendors and filling our cotton carry bags, we would retire to our home.
Out of all these, my all-time favourite was the shopping for Diwali. Grandpa used to buy me sugary toys, sweets and clothes. On the way, he would stop by the sugarcane juice shop for a refreshing drink.
There was so much of emotion and belongingness in these rides. The chatter while plodding the road was no less than life changing philosophical lessons, capable of stirring lives. I was exposed to a variety of disciplines, which included History, Literature, Philosophy and, most importantly, Ethics. Courtesy to these shoulder rides, I got to know so much about our ancestral family’s forced migration from Pakistan to India, Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, basic tenets of life and the role of moral values in one’s life. Had I not been privileged to enjoy the Augustus company of my grandparents, I would not have developed this insight and my intellect would certainly have been dormant.
I owe a great deal to my grandpa for acquainting me with the life outside. And on the contrary, I feel pity for the millennial for being deprived of the joy rides we used to have. They may have more luxuries at their disposal but they indubitably miss out on the innocence and originality of life.
A version of this article appears in print on December 05, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.