Radio and TV were our social media… connected us….

Mr. Chellappa Vasudevan recalls his growing up years, the fun and how radio and TV bonded not only the family, but also the neighbours.   Good old days….

We had a small but elegant Murphy radio.  You would have seen a cute baby with an index finger on her chubby cheek.  In those days, a radio required a license, which was kept under it.  We used to get up in the mornings with the resonant AIR music followed by the immortal Vande Mataram song.  Then, there would be English news, mostly ritualistic.  In the news, half the coverage would be about the Prime Minister.  Sharp at 7.15 AM, there would be Tamil news, which will be tuned in by almost all the houses. If you walk through a street you can cover the entire news. Frequently, some great leader would pass away and there would be seven days of mourning. Throughout the week, you would only listen to the ‘shok geet’. Now-a-days it is not so frequent. May be that they are not passing away so frequently.

We used to be glued to the Murphy radio during the Cricket season. Those days cricket was seasonal and it used to be played during Pongal Holidays in Madras. The five day test matches used to get over in three days. We ‘listened’ to the batting of Pataudi,                      G R Viswanath and bowling of Chandrasekhar, Prasanna, Venkat through this radio only. Batsmen used to do little bit of gardening in between the over’s. Spectators would be asked not to loiter in front of the sight-screens. A bowler walked through his ‘run-up’ and bowled from the pavilion end.

Then came the television during the Asiad games. After an agonizing wait of two to three days and reminders through phone from the neighboring house, the box finally arrived and the antenna was installed.  After the initial hiccups, the blaring snowy noise of the black and white screen appeared on the TV to our delight.  Mother used to prepare variety rice and all of us would assemble even before the Doordarshan’s logo was flashed on the  screen. One after the other, there would be popular programs for agriculturists, horticulturists, peasants, cultivators, farmers, allied activities etc.  Then finally the games would start. We were awestruck to see the players diving deep into the swimming pools in the screen. There was animated discussion as to how the camera could have been kept underwater.

Evenings became lively, when a color TV was bought with a loan from the credit society. I used to rush to the house to watch the Television. Once in a week, the kind-hearted Doordarshan would broadcast ‘Chitrahaar’ exclusively for regional languages. If your stars are favoring, you would be able to watch a Tamil song. If you are extra lucky it could be from a color cinema. After a few years, we had the drama of Humlog followed by Ramayan and the rest is recent history.

Now-a-days, we don’t have idiot boxes but ostentatious wall-hung black screens in each room. Some are smart ones. None is watched. Most of the time, as we are busy with the YouTube, face book etc we hardly get time to watch the good old TV.  Those days, TV used to unite the family and even the neighborhood.  It was probably the real social medium.

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