Once upon a time, long long ago, there was no Facebook or YouTube. Heck! There was no internet. The world that existed in the 80s and 90s changed drastically in terms of technology. In fact, the advancement in digital technologies or intelligent machines has been so radical that it is incomparable to any change in human history. The closest was perhaps the advent of electricity and subsequent industrial revolution.
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What was life like for kids growing up in the 80s and 90s? Here's a list of things that occupied teenagers then. For some of those kids, in their 30s now, flashback of funny, sad, euphoric and embarrassing memories may take place. For younger readers our editorial board is considering creating a GIF image version of this article, but until then they will have to perform the ancient activity commonly known as reading.
The cricket/football match challenge
Ok, kids still play cricket and football. What is different though is the absence of a closely knit ‘para’ (neighbourhood) life. Every kid knew each other and every ‘para’ had a cricket and football team. You guessed right, yes, the teams comprised of the same people. Every three weeks or so these teams would challenge the neighbouring ‘para’ team to a match and the outcome would determine which para was the best. Believe it or not this attracted large audiences in the balconies across the para who would cheer for the home team as games went on in the narrow alleyway. The tension and excitement was unparalleled and no less than a Pakistan – India match. There would be much debate and heated arguments about which line should be the boundary or if the football entered the goalposts made out of two pieces of bricks. Sometimes this would lead to a mid game walkout by the away team. And often there was the beautiful moment when the lads would amiably shake hands after the game.
There were also “coke” matches where the losing team would have to buy a liter bottle of coke. This normally led to complicated situations because sometimes, believe it or not, the whole team together will not have 25 taka cash on them, the price of that coveted 1 litre glass bottle of pepsi or coke. Ah! Those poor kids.
The balcony flirting
What you do if you live in a world where you can’t stalk someone on social media. Of course, you stand below their balcony and pretend to be cool, duh!! It wasn’t as creepy as it sounds. Not to say there weren’t genuine creeps then, but there was a general connection and sense of security that people felt.
It was totally possible to communicate without a single word or direct gesture. Moving up from the street below, on the balcony the girls would pretend to be thoroughly uninterested in the activities downstairs and giggle for seemingly nonexistent reasons. Slowly but surely, small scrap of paper would eventually be thrown on the street with a landline number, which conveniently brings us to the next 80s and 90s things.
The beloved TNT
The landline, referred to as TNT (abbreviation for the telecommunication authority), was the only electric communication available then. Of course, the internet existed in the 80s and became available to the public in the 90s, but Bangladesh didn’t have the internet for public use until the late 90s. Kids would get together when their parents weren’t home and call random numbers to prank random people.
A lot of people didn’t have a landline and people would go to a neighbour’s house to make a call; sometimes to the landline of their friend’s/relative’s neighbour, who would then call the neighbour to come and receive the phone call. Hopefully this will not make the post 2000 people’s head explode.