Today when we talk about games, we think gadgets. Back in our day when owning your own console was not a possibility, at least for us middle class kids, going to a local game parlour actually was.
You just had to walk in with chillar (a few coins) in your pocket and there it was, the junta ka console!
Ek ke do, ya do ke chaar. Hum khelte thay aukaad anusaar.
We 90s kids very rarely saved money but when we did, we made sure to use it to purchase coins for playing Tekken 3 or Cadillacs & Dinosaurs at our neighbouring gaming parlour.
That was the time of our lives. No burden to earn, no targets to meet but just some excitement every time the scorching sun waved us goodbye.
On the pretext of buying stationary or copying notes from that neighbourhood friend, that gaming parlour was the only destination that came to our minds.
From learning a new set of Hindi expletives to making a separate set of friends, shops like these became the OG spot for youngsters to play video games without worrying about getting rebuked by their parents.
A litre of milk back then was for 18 bucks and all I got was a 20 rupee note every day.
Guess what I did with the remaining 2 rupees? Of course smash Paul or King (crowd’s favourite) with my Heihachi or Lei – an intoxicated character who became my favourite.
When the Tekken 3 gaming station was overcrowded, we switched to the other option that an Indian parlour would always have.
From Tekken 3 to Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, the enthusiasm was very much the same. Beating the nasty villains together as a team of 4 made this game equally interesting.
Even though this game has always been a sensation across the globe, desi kids would always call it Mustapha, after the main character.
And to be honest, being able to spell and pronounce Cadillacs and Dinosaurs in that tender age would’ve been rather difficult.
While most parlours around my area were restricted to these two famous arcade games, you could lay your hands on other cooler games if your game-waale bhaiya had those choices available.
Games like WWF, Snow-Bros, Spider-Man, Virtua Cop and Crash Bandicoot made our initial gaming experience more colourful and enticing.
The craze for Tekken 3 the other gamesremained but new consoles entered the fray and soon we became a bunch of excited teenagers hopping from one gaming parlour to another.
IGI, GTA: San Andreas and games like Call of Duty brought forward a new generation of arcade parlours and the best ones usually served coke and snacks to help you focus better.
LCD screens took away the boxed TV sets that we had initially but the gaming fever continued.
From 2 coins for a rupee, we had moved to 50 rupees per session and sometimes even 100 bucks for a couple of FIFA matches. Insane, ain’t it?
But the feeling to go out with your friends, especially to play video games, is something kids today won’t understand.
Bunking your coaching classes or spending time after those classes, the choice was always ours but the places more or less remained the same.
Life was quite chill and we had our priorities sorted. If not in school or at the coaching center, we could always be found hanging around close to a gaming parlour.