Grand arrival of the Television

.There was a heated discussion going on at home, after all it was an important issue. An issue close to our hearts, a Television set. We (my mother, my brother and me) had our hearts set on watching the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics on a color TV set at home. After all our neighbors had one! We could hear the movie songs and the dialogs, and desperately wanted to have a TV set of our own. We lived in Bangalore, where – the people were quieter and calmer, unlike Delhi, where everyone spoke loudly and all at the same time.

My cousins lived in Delhi, where people spoke to their neighbors or neighbor’s neighbor from their own respective rooftops or balconies. The houses were all three to four stories high, while the balconies at every level were all at the same height. My cousins and I would cross over the balcony railing to our neighbor’s house, to watch TV. There would be other neighbors as well, all packed like sardines watching TV. It didn’t matter, if we children understood what was happening in the movie or not, we watched awestruck! After a few years, our cousin’s families had TV sets in their own living rooms.

The most favorite shows on TV then were  – Chitrahaar – a collection of picturized movie songs and the ever popular Sunday Hindi movie. The movies and the songs shown on TV, belonged to a different era altogether, at least 25-30 years old. None of it mattered to us, we (kids of all ages and adults) lapped it all up. It did not matter whether the movie made any sense or not, or if we understood the title of the movie or not, we watched it all the same – transfixed.  I remember some of the movies had the strangest titles such as   “ Ek phool do maali”  – [ One flower two gardeners], “Do boond paani” – [Two drops of water].

In one of the movies, the lead actress – Nargis spent the entire movie prancing around in misery, as the lead dancer of her troupe. I could not understand why? But, I sat and watched the entire movie. However, the songs in most of the movies were extremely popular, as almost everybody listened to them on the radio. They still continue to be popular as they have a hauntingly emotional appeal to them.

After an entire week of my parents, my brother and me discussing the merits and demerits of a color TV versus black and white TV, we finally went to the store. The Sonodyne color TV set cost Rs 8,000, while the Uptron black and white set cost only about Rs 4,000. Naturally, my father favored the Black & White TV. So, I resorted to blackmail, “I will never watch Uptron TV, it is plain inferior”, I said.  Finally, after much contemplation, my father agreed to buy Sonodyne color TV. I remember the excitement and the enthusiasm, it felt like a very special guest had descended into our humble abode.

We were all omnipresent in the living room watching all the possible TV shows, including the news – not once but twice, in Hindi and in English. Of course we enjoyed watching the Olympics, especially the athletic events and gymnastics, that year Carl Lewis won four gold medals. On Sundays we could  now watch Rajni – {a show about a righteous woman who refused to bow down to injustice} followed by Different Strokes and then Aisa bhi hota hai – {a show about interesting people and incidents that happen to be strange & out of the box}   Hum Log, an epic drama about the travails of the middle class  became a must watch on week days.

Tuesdays were soon devoted to watching Nukkad ( Cul-de-sac), that featured the dreams of the people, who practically lived on the street. These shows were absolute gems that  we reminisce watching, even today. My favorite show on Friday was another new addition, Katha sagar – collection of stories that featured stories from the famous books, all around the world, including O Henry’s The last leaf and Leo Tolstoy’s short stories.

TV became such a national obsession, every family in the neighborhood had one at home. The streets would be practically empty when newer more popular shows like Buniyaad or Ramayana were being broadcast. It also changed the fabric of social life, the family friends who visited each other unannounced got busy at their own homes watching TV. There used to be a choice of one or two channels, and now there are 100s of channels available, but those legendary TV shows that left an imprint on our minds are gone forever. We ( our generation) gets nostalgic watching the re-runs of those shows, while the new ones are completely forgettable, as they are dime a dozen mostly about huge families living in huge mansions and at odds with each other.

The addiction with TV may have reduced somewhat, but new addictions galore, adults socialize on Facebook & WhatsApp, and the younger folks favor Snap Chat, they also socialize while playing their games on Xbox.

Those carefree days of playing outside with friends, where imagination ruled our games, have become a thing of our unforgotten past.


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