I was discussing the good old days of 80s.....Why do we seem always to add "good old" when we discuss our childhood? As we move forward in life, we always seem to look back at past days with rose-tinted glasses....We always keep only postives in mind when we look back, especially at our childhood days irrespective of the fact whether it was all rosy or there were issues at that time...
I was mentioning about the electrnics & white good evolution in INdia of 80s among middle class households. In my last post, I talked about refrigerator and two-in-one. Next on my list is the television, which today, we cannot imagine life without !!! We had a TV-free life till 1984, when we got our first televiion set. Kids today cannot even think of a life without Cartoon Network and us elders without our daily fix of instant news, soaps, relaity TV, wild life, world movies etc.
So how was life pre-TV in India? Well, books covered a major part of the time which is today eaten away and wasted by TV. My parents used to read lot of books and had inculcated the same in me as well, from an early age. And consewuently, like most people of my generation, I was hooked to books - all kiddie stuff available in English or Bangla. In Bangla, we had a biweekly magazine named "anandamela". I started "reading" it even before I could actually read myself - my mother used to read it out to me. This was when we were in Dimapur, about which I have written in some of my previous post.
Subsequently I leart reading myself and slowly developed into a avid reader of whatever I could lay my hands on. Lot of bangla children's literature from leading authors like Satyajit Ray, Sunil Ganguly, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Samaresh Basu, Samaresh Majumdar etc. English books read were mostly evergreen classics from Enid Blyton. Comic books were also staple, and I enjoyed Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Richie Rich, Tintin etc. I was not too fond of Indrajaal Comics which were also very popular those days - which mainly covered superhero stuff like Mandrake, Superman, phantom etc.
And then their was the radio. Well people today cannot imagine listening to the radio in any other place or form than in cars and through mobile phones while on the move!! But those days, most households actually had a "radio-set". This used to be in standalone avatar earlier and later as part of two-in-one after the advent of the same. Radio had a somewhat equivalent role to play as the Television of today. There were multiple channals and different programmes including music shows, talk shows on audio soaps and dramas. But the most important role that radio played in people's lives was to bring news - not live as it happens as television today but at fixed intervals multiple times in a day. And then the radio was not impacted my power cuts as it used to run on cells and not on electric power.
Television came to India in 70s and was owned by a very exclusive club of people. I suppose the same way it has happened for all new technology that was arrived before and subsequently including radio, music systems or say internet or mobile telephony later. In our extended family, there was a TV at house of "Barrackporer dadu" - my Ma's elder uncle's house. Ma was regular visitor at their place before her marriage and had lived long period in this house. Also my parents marriage was solemnized at this house only. Whenever we were in Kolkata, we were regular visitors as well, to meet dadu, dida, Bachhumashi & babua mamu. Also very much part of the memories assciated with dadur bari is Happy, the pet alsatian.
My earliest TV memories are associated with dadur bari only. During our evening visits, the TV, occupying place of pride in the living room, was mostly turned on for few programmes. Our eyes and ears eagerly gobbled up the rare experience....whatever was on, seemed like magic. The experience of the technology was a marvel, its novelty never judged by the quality of programming. Another place I went one or two times to watch TV was at the house of one of our neighbours in Khardah, during the few months that we lived there. It was the house of Jinka, one of my playmates in Khardah, where she lived with her parents. They were one of the more well-to-do households in Khardah, her father was...well, as far as I remember a businessman, but my memory may fail me here. Her mother used to stitch clothes and teach tailoring to ladies in the area, which in today's parlance, we would rather say "she owned a boutique" !!! And another thing I should mention about them is that her parents had a mixed (Hindu-Muslim) marriage, which was also extremely rare in those days and that too in conservative areas like the places we are talking about here.
Coming back to TV, those days on Doordarshan (again, for the sake of the people who have not grown up in India, this was the name of the only broadcaster in those days, which was government, and by the way, it exists even today, though in a much transformed avatar) in Kolkata, we had 2 children's prgrammes on MOnday & Tuesday evening, which were called Hareko-Rokomba & Chiching Phank. The visits to Jinka's house were mainly to watch these programmes once in a while. But those days, well cultured, well brought up kids from educated families did not go to watch TV to others homes, and naturally my mother was not in favour or me doing this as well !! So, my TV pleasures were curtailed for the time being...till we had our own TV.
My parents also started thinking about the prospect of owning a TV around 1983-84. This was the time, when TV market started seeing a boom, with its manufacturers actively promoting it among the middle class. This was the time, when TV started becoming more widespread, from the rich & affluent to parts of the middle class. Lot of new manufactuers started crowding the TV market - and most of them were foreign collaborations with Indian companies. Due to regulations at those days, foreign brands did not have a direct play here....and also the market was not as lucrative as it is now. But it was surely the beginning of the consumer revolution that, in next 20 years has led to all leading foreign brands jostling for space in all neighbourhood electronics stores across the lenght and breadth of the country.
The brands that were there in the market at that time were BPL, Philips, ECA, Uptron, Beltron, Keltron, Sonodyne, Dyanora, etc. After a lot of analysis which included visit to electronics hops and discussions, We decided to go for a 14" Philips Television, and yes it was all Black and White at that time. The era of Colour television was still quite a few years away.The transmission was terrestrial at that time, which is again a alien concept to today's generation bred on Cable, DTH or IPTV!! What it meant was that a antenna had to be erected and the direction had to be set to "catch" the broadcast signals. But at the end of setting it up, the enjoyment and fun was matchless. It was a life changing experience. Our evenings and weekends changed forever from there....There was a new choice in life in terms of entertainment.