Not sure if it is due to the holiday season that’s kicking in or, the last showers of the monsoon that’s been trickling down my roof, but I seemed to be overwhelmed with nostalgia since morning. With nothing much to do in the small cantonment town that I live in, I discovered the joys that lay hidden in a simple hand held device. No, it isn’t the mobile phone that I am talking about, but a small black radio it is.
Way back in the eighties, most households possessed a television box. Oh well! It sure could be called one, when you compare it to the sleek flat screens of today. It wasn’t the only source of entertainment as there wasn’t a concept of 24/7 telecast. So, the radio occupied an important spot in most homes. It was tuned in for news, music and for all other things through the day. Growing up in Bangalore as a young girl, I distinctly remember my father’s fascination for the radio. Every night it would be pulled out and placed on the parapet wall of the balcony. He had demarcated spots were the signal would be at its best. And late in the night was the perfect time to listen to good old English classics on Short Wave.
The Philips radio in our home would be the first thing my mom would turn on in the wee hours of morning. Vividh Bharti it was, and the programs broadcast would actually tell us, if it was time to run for the school bus. The radio served as a clock too. Lazy Sunday afternoons were in the company of Derek O’Brien and the Bournvita Quiz Contest. It sure was one of a kind back then.
In those days of minimal screen time, my earliest memories of the radio is listening to Triveni, Hawa Mahal, Aap ki Farmaish, and Fauji Bhaiyon ke liye. Oh wait, there’s more! Sangeet Sarita, Bhule Bisre Geet and Bioscope ki Baatein. My mother loved Binaca Geetmala. This was a weekly radio show with top songs from Hindi cinema. The show was broadcast on Radio Ceylon from 1952 to 1988 and later shifted to Vividh Bharti service. It continued to be played till 1994. It was the pioneer of film song countdown and it still remains one of the most popular radio programs in India.
Over the years, growing up and living life on my own, the small pleasure of listening to music from something as simple as a radio has just disappeared. Sadly, the modern avatar of the radio is more fast-paced with the avalanche of FM channels. The commercialization is pervasive, and amidst all this, the romanticism associated with the radio seems to have lost.
Until last week, lying ignored in an old trunk was a black radio. It was a priced possession of my dad, which was handed down to me on his death. The signals came back all loud and clear. The small town cantonment that I live in, wouldn’t catch any FM channels- thankfully! And yet again, I found myself listening to good old Vividh Bharti. Nothing seems to have changed; it was life in its simplest of forms! Despite social media having come up in many ways, despite online telecast on YouTube, the joy of listening to music from that black box was immense.