The passing of Sean Connery, the original James Bond 007 today (October 31, 2020) took me back to the decade of sixties. I entered my teenage years as the decade of the sixties began and reached the prime of my youth as it ended. I was just getting aware of the intriguing world of national and international affairs. That was a decade of anticipation – anticipation of completing school, entering a career, romance and marriage and a call to start believing, dreaming and start creating. There was a Peter Pan inside me reminding me that I had the ability to fly and rise up to my truest potential.
I didn’t know that I’d be a part of a generation called the baby-boomers. I don’t particularly like that term, but that’s a label that is stuck with me. I loved the hippies and flower children coming to India from Europe and the USA in search of peace, love and drugs. I met many of them during my visits to Kolkata and Delhi. I grew long hair, extended side-burns and donned bell-bottom pants to conform to the trend.
Sean Connery was an enigma. He was not like today’s movie stars who are in your face all the time. He was so beloved that he was shared like folklore. Who can forget his grand entrances as Agent 007 in James Bond movies? Talking of grand entrances, Ursula Andress, the first Bond girl’s ingress on the beach in Dr. No was the most mesmerizing of all.
In that period, I also gained awareness about the United States of America. I remember following the Kennedy-Nixon election, reading about Cassius Clay defeating Sony Liston and the US falling behind then Soviet Union in space race. I also remember the thrill of America ultimately winning the space race on July 20, 1969 by landing two men on the moon – “That’s one small step for (a) man. One giant leap for mankind.”
Assassinations of John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy left a deep scar in my heart. I didn’t like Americans being that violent. Vietnam war was at its peak. There were lives lost including the My Lai massacre where 500 innocent Vietnamese were killed. There were widespread protests in the US against the war which grew into a broad social movement over the ensuing several years in parallel with the Civil Rights Movement. I was being exposed to the slogans like “Black Is Beautiful” and “Black Power” for the first time.
I saw and watched television (black and white) for the first time and was amazed at the advancement in technology. The decade ended with Richard Nixon in the White House, Indira Gandhi at the helm in India and I being introduced to the daily grind of a working life.
Those memories are still deep down somewhere within my psyche. With the end of the sixties, my bout of fantasy with the world had ended. I was astonished to feel the complexities of the real world. That was quite a rude awakening for me. My innocence was stolen by a thief called age. When I expressed my frustration to a wise man I met on a bus during one of my desultory trips to Shimla (a hill station in India), he said to me, “Youth has no age. There are no limits and anything is possible.” I remember his words and live on with that kick.