Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Growing up in Barrackpore...

Last time I was talking about the house hunting exercise undertaken by my parents to cut down on my hectic schedule to and fro school(Khardah to Palta)everyday. In between I diverted the discussion a little bit to talk about my Bangla learning at home & the applications !!!

We moved to a rented accommodation on B.T.Road, near Barrackpore municipality. The House belonged to Late. Dr. Amiya Chatterjee. Mrs. Chatterjee lived on 1st floor with a son(finished college) and a daughter in school. She also managed her husband's nursing home which was located nearby. There were 2 tenants on the ground floor including us. There was a Kali Mandir next door and the bus stop was just in front of the house. Chiriamore (the main market area of Barrackpore) and Railway Station were at walking distance. So overall, from a location perspective, you could not get anything much better than this.

The place was nothing like today's rented apartments are. We had total of 3 rooms, 1 bedroom and 1 living room. The other was kitchen cum dining room, and 1 bathroom. Those days houses did not very commonly have BHK (Bedroom Hall Kitchen) concept. Apartments / Flats as we call them now, were extremely rare those days. There were only houses built randomly with many rooms that were customized as any room as per the need of the landlord or the people whom it was rented off to. We did have lot of stuff to fill the rooms - beds, Almirah, sofa set, gas stove, lot of utensils, books, clothes etc...But No, we did not still own a TV. Around that time TV was slowly gaining popularity, but every household did not have one. It was still pretty much a upper class kind of thing (and no, there was nothing called a "upper middle class" then), with middle class slowly waking up to it.

Power cuts in Bengal were pretty common and frequent, and mitigation mechanisms were not power backup through either generator of inverter but kerosene lamps and candles. Even refrigerators were not too common those days, but we happened to be proud owners of this piece of electronics courtesy my dida. It was a wedding gift for ma, and subsequently for me and my father as well. It was a prized possession, which was something we could be publicly proud of. And yes, we also owned a "two-in-one".

Before you start opening google chrome or IE to get into Wiki or dictionary.com real fast, to try to make sense to my lingo, let me tell you what a "two-in-one" is. (For the benefit of those people who did not grow up in India in the eighties).
"Two-in-one" was the predecessor to the music systems of today and successor to the standalone radio & gramophone players. It had both radio and cassette player and recorder. Cassette recorder and player were a novelty of those times and also not commonly owned and hence prized !!! The initial craze was to record tracks from gramophone records (as most people had collections of these. But the condition was that the environment had to be sound-free which is rarely feasible. Nevertheless, the ease of carrying the cassettes and the portability of the player around vis-a-vis the heavy duty record player made it highly sought after. It was much later that cassettes were mass produced by the music companies that more and more labels started being available. The 1st player that baba got for us, had a long standing career, playing for us for many years before I took it to my college hostel.
Next, I will tell you about the beginning of our TV experience, and how it developed over our years in Barrackpore and beyond!!!

Before I miss out completely, let me tell you that we are in 1983 now.

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