Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Things We Grew Up With - The Radio and the Transistor

The Radio and its smaller sibling, the pretty little Transistor, were the prime source of all real-time connection with the outer world in those growing up days. That was how important they were! To look for a suitable example, perhaps these two instruments were as important as the mobile phones are these days - they not only provided news but also entertainment of various forms such as music, poetry and I remember, once hearing only the dialogues of films. Imagine your life without a mobile phone these days!

The one source for all this audio content was the All India Radio which was our life line. Radio announcers were superstars those days as they spun us along with the magic of their words and their deep or sweet voice as the case may be. Amin Sayani is still a super star!

All households listened to the morning and evening news with a grave silence, or listened to the music or whatever. One could hear radios blaring from all houses with trademark music, jingles etc. The radio was seated in a high place normally, and we'd crowd around it sitting on the floor and catching the words and music as it dripped. As technological masterpieces which cost a large part of the salary radios would be operated only by the elder males of the family. Children were told not to touch it - lest something happened to them (the radios, not the children!). There were more children than radios anyway!

Radios came in several sizes and shapes and looked quite imposing to us rustics - we'd gaze like idiots at anything mechanical or electrical. Naturally we were scared of radios which looked like small spaceships with their switches, lights, knobs and crackling sounds. They were normally covered respectfully with embroidered cloth or something like that.

The radios were respected and dignified and were the symbol of the older generations. Similarly transistors, which were not really anyone's sisters, were the symbols of youth and freedom for the simple reason that they were portable. They allowed the owner to flaunt it and get away from home. A transistor in the ear was a sign of coolness those days and the equivalent of the youth we see with their ears plugged with head phones these days. Most times transistors were used to listen to live commentary of cricket or hockey or some such sport. People would carry transistors to offices and disrupted office productivity greatly.

Most of today's youngsters may wonder why anyone would have a radio the size of a large sized television at home. Or for that matter even have a transistor stuck in their ears to listen to cricket commentary. But back then the big radio was the one source of entertainment and information for us. It played songs, gave us news of war or politics or of holidays or important deaths. In fact we'd be excused if we actually built our houses around the radio. Or even a temple.

I must remember ours - a huge spaceship type - from Phillips. The transistor was a Murphy perhaps.


మాగంటి వంశీ మోహన్ said...

>> I must remember ours - a huge spaceship type - from Phillips.

True and same here! Good old radio times

Rajendra said...

I spent all my days in IIMB with a transi stuck to my ears.