Entertainment in Jinja

My Dearest Komal, Anjli and Amar,

Watching all of you so engrossed in your mobile phones, made me think of all the entertainment we had in Jinja. Obviously quite different from yours. Now even the television is becoming obscure. You can watch whatever you want and whenever you want, all on your laptops or phones. I remember my first experience of the television.

Our next door neighbour(Kiranmasi) got the first television on our street. This was in the early 1960s. It was housed in the lounge and all were welcome to come and watch…..and they did. My most vivid memories are of Saturday mornings. Narmadamasi would have gone shopping to the local market for the weekly vegetables and Kiranmasi, her siblings and I would be watching television with about a dozen other children of the neighbourhood. What an event that was. Black and white images and no remote control! Also only one channel. In those early days screen times were limited, 6 pm to 10 pm every evening and 10 am to 12 noon every Saturday. The family and I would be comfortably perched on a sofa while the rest of the audience would be sitting cross-legged on the floor. Our favourite snack after the session would be hot boiled noodles(સેવ ) doused in ghee and sugar. Yumm

Besides the local news, we had many British and American programmes being screened. The ones that come to mind are, Mission Impossible, Bonanza,Six Million Dollar Man, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Batman cartoon and so on.

Another show that we were hooked to was called ‘The Avengers’, a British espionage series with characters like Mr. John Steed and Mrs Emma Peel. With this series in mind, Dad and I went to see the new Avengers’ first movie in India, 2012. I spent the first half hour waiting for Mr Steed or Mrs Peel to enter the scene. Suffice to say I was disappointed with the film.

At around this time, Kiranmasi’s dad had just opened a new watch shop in Kampala. To advertise this new venture, he sponsored a British made drama serial called ‘Forsyte Saga’. The series was based on a successful trilogy written by the English author John Galsworthy, telling the stories of an upper middle class English family. We were diligent in watching the show, and though it might have been successful in England, it was not such a hit in Uganda. Wrong audience. The series has been remade in recent years and after having enjoyed the similar ‘Downton Abbey’ series, I am sure I would enjoy watching Forsyte Saga again.

Town Talkies church 2013
Town Talkies church 2013- courtesy Isaac Mufumba

Our most thrilling entertainment was the cinema house. There were, in the sixties of Jinja, three cinema houses: Town Talkies, Odeon and Elite
(which we used to pronounce eelyte) . Apparently these days two of these cinema houses have been converted into churches! In those days, most of the films were naturally Bollywood. Once a week the cinema houses organised a ‘Ladies Show’ in the afternoon: 3 pm to 6 pm. What a great marketing ploy. The lunchtime meal being the main meal of the day, gave the ladies and therefore us children too, the opportunity to go to the movies in the afternoon. You had to be quick to book your tickets for these ‘Ladies Shows’. All the Hollywood films were screened in the evenings and these I had the privilege to see with my dad. I even remember a time when I went to see a Bond movie in a sari…..just to look older and so to defy the age restriction!

We were heavily influenced by the Bollywood movies and so waited eagerly for the release of the latest movies. This would sometimes take as long as a year! Imagine my utter happiness when my cousin Madhuben, invited me to jump into the car with her to Kampala (a 50 mile journey) to watch the much advertised movie ‘Sangam‘ It still gives me a warm feeling thinking about that. This was also the era of the ‘Drive-In’ cinema and we used to have special outings to Kampala to watch movies in the drive-in cinemas. Unfortunately the ‘drive-in’ concept is not so popular these days. If you want to get the authentic vibes of a ‘drive-in’ and the groovy dancing moves of a young John Travolta, watch the movie ‘Grease’.


Going to the movies or watching something on the box has a different meaning to your peer-group, but this was our world in the Africa of the sixties. Another new trend of the present is to reduce the restaurant outings and cook more often in your own kitchen. To further that trend, I have posted two new recipes this time, one is for Patudano lot (પાટુડાનો લોટ)….Anjli’s favourite and the other is Amar’s favourite….bhaaji (Spinach). So who is going to be the first one to try out these recipes? I am waiting, I am waiting…… Looks like you are all going to be in the same city this summer. How about I come over and we do a cooking summer?

Hoping to see all of you soon,

With all my love, hugs and kisses

Vishfully yours


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