Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are cartoons the new cousins?

Cousins (first, second or n-th) I have them in plenty. In my travel laden random childhood, I did not get the luxury to grow in a large joint family or in a village where half of the people are family. But I had chances to meet them, every year, during summer vacation and some years even twice;  i.e.,  also during Durga Puja (biggest festivals of Bengali - Hindus) or during family celebrations like marriages. As a child and now too I always look forward to meet with my cousins during those  holidays.  

The time gap between two meetings never came in-between and we could always start our chattering and blabbering conversation whenever we met from the point we left last time with any of my cousins. Holidays were the time of stealing pickles from grandmas store, licking them with mouthful of water and sharing stories about schools and colleges, specially the likings, flirts and serious affairs. Before that we shared Tintin comics, lollypops, tricycles and chewing gums. Slowly in the process of growing up the elder cousins got married and then I got married and the younger ones  still there, lingering, but the whole bunch of us who used to hang around under the mango tree in a hot summer afternoon waiting for ice-cream vendor have not met for a long time.

But thanks to all these social networking sites  that we do hang around and share our lives in photos and scraps even though virtually. We haven't met with each others husbands or wives but we have included them in our friend lists too. Cousins do play a vital role in my life or in anybodies life of my generation.

Now if I fast forward a bit and look into the days of 'J', annual vacation for her means a trip to another European country. It is only in once in few years that she visits India and when her parents get time to go to India her cousin's parents might not be there. Therefore she actually doesn't know what cousins actually mean.

But if I dig little deeper, she does have some cousin like figures in her life, whom she admires, praises, follows and smiles at. She gets addicted to them one at a time and her choice changes with her growing up.

If I can remember correctly (although forgetfulness is increasing steep high with my age!) Caillou is the first cartoon character whom 'J' started to copy when she was around two and half or three. Caillou is a four year old boy who lives with his sister and parents and does all those things which will hook any body from 2-5 years of age. Along came Teletubbies, Barney, Bob the builder, Thomas the tank engine and so on.

She used to watch them, read about them, colour their printable, act like them and sing the title songs.

Then came another strong character called Pippi Longstockings and her friends like Madita and so on.
Pippi can easily match one of my those strong headed cousin sisters who were my guru and still are, whom I followed with all the sincerity and integrity from the time of me being a small girl.

Charlie and Lola, excellent creations by Lauren Child are exactly the cousin brother-sister duo I had, the ones who were always there to help each other out in the board games of a Ludo or snap! 'J' loves watching Lola throwing all the tantrums and how her elder brother Charlie wraps them up. On seeing them, 'J' always mentions it is nice to have an older brother. Also she loves watching Peppa pig, her brother George, her friends  and family. Her other favourite characters includes strawberry shortcake, spot- the spotty dog, Kipper  and the world of Peter rabbit . Each and every one of them tell a tale about worries and there solutions in the lives of young children, about friendship and about fun.

Recently I can see that she is getting inclined to the high school characters like Gabriela and Troy from High School Musicals  and the Barbie movies, her favourite story or cartoon characters are also growing in age like her. 

Cartoons may not replace the role of a cousin and I am sure 'J' will get chances to meet with her cousins and then get friends with them.

But now seeing her engrossed in these characters only thing I feel is that childhood is all about admiration, following and sharing worries weather it is with a loving cousin or a charming cartoon!

Do you think the same?

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