Here is a list of things that were different in the early 1990s.
1) You were only reachable on landline. People who did not have a landline had a PP number which meant that some poor neighbour had to call you. If you had nothing, people had to write you a letter or just take the bus and meet you. (THERE WERE NO CELL PHONES!)
2) Much communication took place through handwritten letters. There was something called an inland letter or you could write in an envelope both of which were available in the post office.
3) Letters were used (especially in matters related to love and romance) which needed some privacy. Unlike the cell phones today the landlines of yesterday did not allow you to go off to some obscure place and apeak. They were pretty much public phones where everyone could hear what happened. No wonder love and romance did not evolve much those days.
4) To make an STD call i.e. to call anyone in any other city or town other than where you lived, we used what was called trunk booking service. (This was the era before the STD booths were set up.) You called a number from the telephone directory and told the operator that you wanted to speak to x person at y number. The operator would call that person, then call you back, and then put you two together and probably listened to all that was being spoken.
5) If you did not have a phone from where to make a call you needed to go to the GPO or the CTO. Here some official looking birds sat with a couple of phones. People were given tokens. You gave them your numbers to call. They called and called people by their tokens. Everyone got three tries and then the next token. If you got through great, speak on. If you did not, wait back in line. Normally the lines were pretty long especially as they went deeper into the night. The telephones had a system where rates dropped sharply after 10 - it was a quarter. So all long calls were to be made at that time. People would wait till past mid night to get their calls through even in major cities. Some people had budgets - Rs. 100 for today's call and they would not let go of the receiver until the display showed 100. And everything in full public view and hearing - no separate cubicles.
6) To call ISD, you probably needed clearance and a license but no one really called ISD those days. We merely wrote in what were called aerograms sold by the postal guys and these aerograms normally took about 10 days to get where they were supposed to.
7) There were places called Super Bazaars which were the grandparents of today's shopping malls. They of course stocked all necessary items like rice, grains, toiletries etc and not chocolates, condoms and other frivolous stuff like malls do.
8) The prime form of entertainment was movies. In movies people loved watching the advertisements which were sometimes even more attractive than the movies themselves. Watching ads was like a short quick dose of happiness.
9) All movies began with a compulsory version of the Indian News Review or the INR which normally showed what happened in India some five years ago. The INR was in black and white and probably shot on equipment that was manufactured in the last century. It was patchy, voice was cracked, had awful music and everyone waited with bated breath to end that torture. The INR was one of the biggest villains of the movie going experience though it showed some sports etc.
10) Most movie posters were hand painted. It was really interesting as some of the movie hoardings had stars that we could barely recognise and we would be guessing who was what. Sometimes the painters got carried away and added some extra inches to the cleavage or hips and made them far more interesting.
11) There were no charges for parking.
12) In fact there was not much parking required because not many people had cars or even bikes. A typical houseful movie would have about 4-5 cars at best and people who came in cars were the rich ones. Bikes and scooters took up some space but the majority space went to the cycles class. Lots of people travelled by cycles and cycle riskshaws.
13) Movie theatres had distinct classes. Boxes for VVIPs, small rectangular stuff that are seen in single theatres even today. The balcony for the rich, the upper class for the middle class, another class which had some not so comfortable chairs for the lower middle and maybe some really regular tables or chairs for the bottom class. Rural theatres had tickets for sitting on the floor up front. (Most single theatres still have this unlike the multiplexes.)
14) People dressed up to go to the movies. No one was seen going to movies in shorts and chappals. They were social events.
15) There were no corporate hospitals. Appollo had probably just begun. Just a few private hospitals. All major hospital work was done in the government hospitals or in private clinics run by doctors. We did not need to run to hospitals often. I think people just died quietly then.
16) Traffic was easily controlled by a traffic constable who stood in the middle of the road on a raised platform and dealt with most things by a whistle and his hands.
17) People still wore hand stitched clothes. Readymade stuff had not yet come into vogue in a big way. There were no big brands save Flying Machine and Chermas for Hyderabadis those days.
18) People got shoes (Nike, Adidas, Reebok etc), jeans (Levis, Jordache), t shirts (La Coste, Lee etc) from abroad and pestered their cousins and relatives for that stuff. Our options here were limited to Bata in shoes, Flying Machine in jeans etc. Many actually got stuff from Bombay and Bangalore (as Mumbai and Bengaluru were then called)
19) One of the biggest adventures was to go to the lonely and desolate Secret Lake in Jubilee Hills and climb atop the rocks and look out at the fields and horizon. Now the lake is known famously as Durgam Cheruvu and its difficult to find any rocks left to climb.
20) The roads were full of Fiats, Ambassadors, Jeeps which were the main private vehicles. For many after Maruti 800 made an appearance, it was the hippest car on the road and was one of the premium cars. Other big cars included Contessa, some old cars like Chevrolet etc.
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There was a local station called Jamai Osmania where we often alighted after a night show, catching a train (last one) from Kacheguda to come back to our hostel past midnight. Sometimes we even walked back,to the campus.
Raja, I think it is still there. Let's check it out next time.
I still remember alighting schl bus and you forgot one more pastime was people trvlg local train fr time pass and going to schl was fin
Oh yes Raj. I am sure there were any such. Thanks for adding it to the list.
I always was interested in this topic and still am,
regards for putting up.
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