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Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks- How I survived a childhood in the ‘80s by Janhavi Samant

Janhavi Samant is not one to mince words. Feisty and filled with spirit and humour, she has a unique take on things, and is not afraid to say it like it is. When I first read Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks, (published by Fun Ok Please) it was essentially because a friend recommended it. This was a book about childhood in the ‘80s, and I for one, am drawn to nostalgia. Faaltugiri had me gripped! With tons of humour, but very poignant stories and statements, the book describes growing up in the Bombay of the 1980s. In a sense, it is also a commentary on parenting as it was then and by reflection, as it is now. 

I knew I had to meet Janhavi, if I was to do justice to the review. So, it was on a busy weekday morning that we caught up in the upbeat Kamala Mills, where she works. In a sense, the place encapsulates the modern and peppy vibe that Mumbai has today. 

“We often think as parents, I want to give my children all that I never had,” she tells me. “But, do we ever ask ourselves, what about those things that we as children HAD? What about the things we had but we can’t give them?”

In a conversation that followed we discussed parenting, the process of writing the book, the Bombay that we love and much more. Excerpts…

Origins of Faaltugiri…

My father passed away before my son was born. I always regretted the fact that they could not meet each other! But, whenever he saw my dad’s picture in the living room, he asked questions. I started sharing funny episodes from my father’s life and from my childhood. It evolved into a documentation of my childhood! 

Parenthood in the eighties…

I think parents in general didn’t mince words! They were performance heavy, but sympathy heavy too! There was a lot of predictability in the way our generation was raised. I think predictability is good for children! 

What have we lost today…

There was a sense of intimacy and protection in the entire neighbourhood which is lost today. Also, the culture of walking around the city is lost. We find streets unsafe today. Moreover, children are more privileged today, and all the interactions that they have with the lesser privileged service providers occurs within a controlled environment, mostly with house or school employees. Interacting with more diverse people in the city helps children understand and negotiate their own privilege, but this is fast missing! 

In what areas children today are better off…

The access to information! It is truly beautiful and empowering. 

Sense of humour and the spirit of irreverence in the book…

Well, let me just say that we are like that! My father had a great sense of humour and we do see humour in everything- happy or sad. As a family, we rhyme and quip a lot in our interactions. I think it is by osmosis that I have imbibed this gift! 

 What should readers to take away from the book….

My aim is to make them laugh and remember their childhood, maybe someone from childhood! I think it makes you recall those moments and the people who were a very important part of your life. 

Why Faaltugiri….

Well, the word literary connotes ‘timeless’. Is that not what childhood should be? It should be a beautiful carefree time! That is so character forming! 

In Faaltugiri and other flashbacks- How I survived a childhood in the 80’s, Janhavi Samant paints a lovely and heartwarming picture of growing up in the 80s in Bombay. It is a fun read and evokes nostalgia (amidst heady doses of humour). But on a deeper level it also makes us thing about what we have lost to time, and what we have gained!  

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.