Nostalgia

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We were walking around a few ancient ruins of a palace in Srilanka.

Crumbling brick structures were all around us. Remnants of the Darbar, Royal Kitchen, Gurads’ quarters and a few more structures were strewn around, in a sylvan setting of giant, gnarled trees.

As we weaved our way through the maze of these buildings, we wondered how life would have been for the inhabitants a few centuries ago, when the palace was at it’s peak.

Of course, these crumbling brick walls would have been painted brightly, adorned with silks and gold.

Royal men and women would have walked through these rooms, dressed in their fineries,

Royal chefs would have prepared delectable feasts in these very kitchens…

“It would have been magnificent!” said my husband. “Imagine! Elephants and horses outside. No cars. No pollution. The air would have been super clean. Their lifestyle must have been so healthy!” he went on.

Suddenly it occurred to me. We always talk about the bygone days with so much longing.

My grandfather used to reminisce to me that a soverign of gold cost Rs. 13 when he was a young man.

My father used to recall a time when he used to go to school 8 Kms from home  in a bullock cart, accompanied only by his dog, who used to sleep under his desk. Apparently, the bull knew the way to his school and back.

I still fondly remember my lunch in the college canteen – masala dosa and a bottle of Gold Spot.

Why is nostalgia such a strong emotion?

Yes, that royal place was a haven of grandeur, but there were also the attacks, wars, conspiracies and all the uncertainties that went with it.

Yes, a soverign of gold cost Rs. 13, but there was also plague, small pox and famines that claimed the lives of thousands.

Yes, riding a bullock cart to school was fun, but there were also robberies and unreported crimes on children.

And yes, Gold Spot was wonderful, but I also faced exams, shortage of attendance and arrears.

Why do we remember only the good parts and conveniently forget the bad, uncertain, scary parts?

We have so much more now.

Satellite TV & internet!

We have Tata Sky, Netflix and Amazon Prime!

Everyone is just a whatsapp video call away.

We got rid of polio. Small pox.

Women are no longer hiding in the kitchens, pining to access their true calling.

Researching boredom is a legit job!

There is a #metoo campaign.

Anyone can broadcast thanks to Youtube and twitter.

I read an article a few years ago that now is the best time to live.

We have an advanced medical system.

Women can vote.

There’s no slavery.

Mankind is making giant steps everywhere.

Still, nostalgia has a very strong pull, viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses.

Is it because ensconced in the safe present, we can never go back to the horrors of the past?

Or is it because we can now that we view the past from a safe distance, we focus only on the good stuff and blur out the rest?

Readers’ Digest had a very positive article about how we’re in the right path to save the earth. If we keep up this mindful usage of resources, recycling, reduce plastic, etc., we can avert major environmental crisis caused by greedy mankind in a few decades.

So, yes, the past was a blast, but so is the present. I have decided to open my eyes to the present wonders and enjoy the benefits, rather than long for how things used to be. The present is richer with the lessons from the past.

Here’s to more power to mankind!

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