Zing-Things and Big Fun

Last night, my son was busy playing a game on the iPad. After the game, he came up to me and said, “I need to earn 400 points to buy a few things for my pet.  I wish I could get it right now, but (sighing loudly) I have to wait another 24 hours at least.”

I chuckled, and that irritated him.

“Why are you smiling, mom? Do you know how difficult it is to wait 24 hours for something?” he asked.

I then recounted to him, a memory from my childhood.

It was in the eighties that television came to many households in India. Most of our homes had black and white TVs back then.  With increasing viewership, advertisers came up with wonderful commercials to push their brands to a new audience, that was just waiting to lap it all up.

Two very popular brands from that time,  advertised on TV and then followed it up with contests for children on the ground.

The first was a tie-up between Disney’s Jungle Book and a fizzy drink called Gold Spot (the commercial went something like this…’Gold Spot The Zing Thing’).  Gold Spot was sold in glass bottles with metal crown caps. When the Jungle Book promotion was on, inside each crown cap was a small, round card with any one of the Jungle Book Characters. We could collect the contest card from prescribed shops, and then collect the character cards, and paste them on the main card.

We were on a mission. Each time we went out, the whole family had to drink only Gold Spot. Immediately afterwards, the crown caps were opened up and the characters taken out.


            Courtesy – http://www.flickr.com

This exercise taught us ‘patience’, and how! We usually got the same characters multiple times. So we had to trade with our friends. Many fun hours were spent, as each of us took our character cards to exchange or discuss with our friends. We had a deal with a small store in town, where we usually bought provisions, to put away the crown caps for us.

It took us more than 2 months to fill up the competition card, but the joy that came with it was priceless.


           Courtesy – http://www.flickr.com

The second big excitement was when one of the most popular bubble gum brands was launched. It was called Big Fun and was very tasty. We spent hours chewing and blowing bubbles with the gum.

As part of the Cricket World Cup, the brand announced a contest for children, where each child had to collect information sheets about famous cricketers. These sheets were inside the bubble gum wrapper. We had to collect around 40 such sheets, and then send it to the Big Fun Company. The first 500 entries would receive gift hampers.

My sisters and I were on a mission. We managed to collect all of them, and sent it by post.

The wait was agonizing. One fine day, we received a letter that said that we had won a gift hamper. We went mad with excitement. And then the long wait began.

After about a month, we got a big cover on which was a Big Fun logo. We cut it open. By then, our entire group of friends knew and all of them joined us in opening the hamper.

It had a huge sheet filled with board games, one whole packet of Big Fun, some labels, timetables and some stationery.

Our eyes shone with so much joy. We could not stop talking about it for ages. The long wait paid off.

My son heard me out and said, “That’s an awfully long wait, mom. I am glad mine will be over tomorrow.”

I smile. There was so much joy in the collecting and waiting. Not sure if this generation of kids has that kind of patience.


Are you a collector?

I happened to read an article about a philatelist, who had bought a rare stamp for a whopping amount, to add to his collection.

I don’t remember the amount, but I do remember that my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets!!!

This got me thinking. Why did that philatelist pay so much for that stamp?

I pondered about this for a few days and then realized that it was not about the money as much as it was about the ‘why he collected’.

Then it struck me that we are all collectors. Most people I know collect something. I know friends who collect refrigerator magnets, bookmarks, handbags, watches, and many more.

In my own family, my Dad collected pens. He bought every pen with love and joy. He had many different ones.
After his death, I sobbed my heart out when I saw his collection of pens – because it was one of those important things that defined who he was – it was easy to pick out a gift for him. He was very happy when he received pens as gifts.

My uncle collects shoes – sports shoes, formal shoes, boots, slip-ons; and he cares for each one of them like his own babies.

I know a friend, who doesn’t throw away old perfume bottles.

As for me, I love empty notebooks. I can’t seem to have enough of them with me. I have a whole drawer filled with different types of notebooks. Some made of handmade paper, some with pure creamy pages, some odd-sized and odd-shaped…I can never have enough. Visiting stationery shops is in my list of top 10 things to do!


    Picture courtesy – http://www.inhabitat.com

So, back to the question. Why do most people collect something, and keep adding to their collection?

I asked myself this. After deep thought I realized that, to me, each time I open a new notebook to the first empty page, I feel hope and the thrill of writing. I want to fill these notebooks with writing – not necessarily fiction or stories, but even mundane things like ‘things to do’, ‘shopping lists’, ‘song lyrics’ and of course the book that I eventually want to write. These small notebooks fill me with joy.

I have seen the same joy in my Dad’s eyes when he searched for new pens to add to his collection. I see it in my son’s eyes when he collects fact books on animals.

The things we collect give us great happiness, from stamps to bookmarks to magnets to plants to coffee mugs to shoes to very expensive pieces of art, they give us repeated pleasure and happiness. To some extent, they define who we are! It is not about the money at all.

So, what do you collect and what does it mean to you? Would love to know.