Do any of you still remember the so called 'slam-book' or 'autograph' book. Yeah, that bright shiny book that you used to pass around in school proudly. I studied in a girls convent and like true girls we tried to up each other in having a better looking book. My book looked like bokeh art with swirls of red, orange, blue and green on a pristine white background. The girls envied it but I envied another chick who had just bought a pretty slam-book from Singapore. She had asked her sister who was working there to get it. People thronged around her just so that they could get to write in it. It was huge almost like a practical record book with silver spiral binding. It had a plethora of colors as its outer cover and it pages inside were divided color by color with intricate designs. Damn, how I envied her. My book however was simple and neat. And I had another special book for the teachers. A plain pass-book kind where they happily put in their "All the best". I still remember the beam on my face when my favorite teacher wrote 'Shine like a star wherever you go" in my book. I was the only one who had got these magic words and I was thrilled to the bone. Actually, I still am.
When I look at the book today I feel extremely nostalgic and stupid at the same time. I'm still in touch with some of them and when I look at what they are today compared to what they wrote in their pages I feel amused. Ah, that age of innocence. My best friend for some reason had written "Never break a heart" in her advice column for me. Eleven years ago she had guessed what I would be and well I did not take her advice anyway :P. Page after page I was thrilled, angry, laughed my heart out and felt emotional. My slam book had a question called favorite discotheque. I wonder what I was thinking when I expected people to fill it. My house, the terrace, the bathroom, play-ground were some of the answers. ROFL. I remember writing 'Shahrukh Khan' for all favorite actor entries. Well, at least something has not changed. The best question was 'What would you be in the next 10 years'? My answer then was, to become a successful business woman. Sigh. That still is a dream. The other friends of mine who had written astronaut, doctor, lawyer, dancer etc are my colleagues in the software industry today. Probably ambitions were more applicable then which later got lost in the monotony of today.
The words and choices written in the book might have changed today, but the friendship remains the same. Probably there is a little more tension in the friendship these days regarding how successful each one is or who makes more money. Something which never existed then. Like that highly circulated quote, "I was more happy in the era where apple and blackberry were just fruits". Very true. A treat for friends then cost an average of 200 bucks, with an ice cream and a packet of chips. Today, the budget remains unlimited and the poshest of restaurants is chosen. Feels normal, but when you look back, you see a younger version of yourself licking that ice cream like no tomorrow with pure glee. And friends thanking you truthfully for the wonderful time they had. No place today can make you feel like that. Gifts then were hand made cards and postcards, with cheesy but cute messages inside it. Today gifts are sunglasses, bags and shopping vouchers. But somehow, nothing can ever make up for the written word.
Years have passed but the haphazard handwriting written in those slam books remains the truth. The feelings then remain genuine as you did not know much about the world then to calculate or manipulate. How ignorant were we then? But then again, Ignorance is bliss they say. The most important thing that we lack today. The more we know about the world, the more we fight for survival. Did we even think about these things then? Shopping meant clothes on your birthday and those special festivals. And we were thrilled to wear them on those rare color dress occasions in school. Now, even shopping every weekend still does not satiate. As living improved, we somehow have forgotten to live.
Looking back at the past years, I can only say one thing.
Those were the best days of my life.