My memories of Mary Poppins are fading away now but I do remember believing in flying nannies that come to your house and take you away on adventures. More than I did in an old man who climbs down chimneys and sneaks out after leaving gifts for you. Of course, Santa was not a part of a regular Indian household vocabulary when I was being brought up. But then neither was Mary Poppins, or Sesame Street (which I never regretted not watching. Preschool educational shows always manage to freak me out) for that matter.
When I was a kid, the lack of Nickelodeon and cable television forced us to watch shows on the national network. My most vivid memories of television shows are that of the hindi dubbed version of ‘The Jungle Book’. Set in a forest with animals bringing up a human kid (Mowgli), the show was full of adventures, emotions and comedy. Together my brother and I would enjoy watching Bagheera, Baalu and others kick Sher Khan’s ass. I remember we wrote down the lyrics of ‘Jungle jungle pata chala hai..’ and learned it by heart to be able to sing along with the actual song. It was awesome. Mowgli was our hero!
With time we graduated to other shows as well. But not so much as this one. I finally watched Mary Poppins when I was 17. I liked it. Of course, in the age when Bollywood was making strides with movies like Dhoom and Munnabhai, it was highly unlikely that I would be mesmerized by the effects or the creative storyline of Poppins. Nevertheless, it was an experience, to add to my childhood Jungle book adventures. My young cousins are getting a chance to grow up watching Ekta Kapoor shows along with Dora the Explorer. Of course they are familiar with Sesame street now.
I don’t know if my cousins will find the ‘Chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai’ song as funny as we did, but I sure do enjoy listening to it every once in a while. Of course, I can try to make them appreciate the innocence.. but baah! I think I should just let them be.