Friday, April 10, 2020

I is for Images #AtoZChallenge

 Image courtesy: google search which led me to bestmedia.com
The year is 1976. A black and white television set has been bought by Daddy. He sets it up: antenna and all. Our TV is plugged in and ready. The knob is turned to switch the telly on and suddenly our house turns into a community theatre.

A rectangular verandah with criss-cross brickwork stretches all the way across the long side of Papaji's railway bogie style house. The big metal gate that opens into the gully -- the one where I had earned my scar whilst playing on a bullock cart-- is fixed to the shorter end of this rectangle. The back of the house has an extension. It's my Chacha's (uncle's) room. The tall chakotre ka ped  (grapefruit tree) guards his room like a faithful sepoy, almost clinging to it.

The room and the tree look like the toe of a field hockey stick attached to the shaft of the house.

Except for the giant mulberry tree that stands off centre inside this rectangle, the entire expanse--from the door of chacha's room to the metal gate-- is our unrestricted playground. We call it vadda veda.

On Sundays, our neighbours: of all shapes and sizes, the friendly ones and even the prickly ones swarm the veda and settle down to watch TV. The black and white set has been carried out of my parents' room and placed in the doorway of chacha's room in preparation for the audience. Extension cords and cables, a few chairs and many chaddaran (sheets) are cobbled together in the hope that our neighbours can watch the film on Doordarshan without resorting to sitting on each other's laps, unless they want to, of course. India is a free country after all. 

Ours is the first household in the lane to get a telly.

Some films are more popular than others. On some Sundays, branches of Papaji's guava tree double up as balcony seats. Teenagers, collectively belonging to the 'bhaiya' (brothers) category dangle from the tree and its adjoining chhaja (overhang), whistle and even attempt to copy dance moves of the film heroes resulting in collective gasps from mohalle ki auntyjis (mothers and aunts) and a volley of 'kanjaron! thalle uttaro!' (rascals, get down!) from Papaji.

Sundays, after we become owners of a black & white TV fill up with colourful drama: both on and off screen.

Questions about Rajesh Khanna's immortality start to haunt me. Mind-boggingly, he dies of cancer after many a heart wrenching Babumoshais one Sunday and three or four weeks later, I watch him singing 'mere sapno ki rani' in our verandah--in front of all those people! Why isn't anyone else perturbed by his Vishnu-like reincarnations? It puzzles me.

Sometimes, on moonless nights, our eyes and souls glued to screens, we hold our collective breaths for the film's climax, some of us even biting our nails in nervous anticipation... when ...PHATAK! butti gul! Power Cut!

Laments of despair erupt from some adults: "Hai Rabba light chali gayee..." God! Light's gone. 

And some adults just state the obvious: "Light chali gayee." light has gone. 

The youth put out questions no one can answer: "Iss light ko abhi jaana tha?" Why did the power cut happen now?

Oh! the carnival that ensues in such a soundscape. We, the bache kuche, (children) burst into the no man's land of free time made available so suddenly and unexpectedly. We run amok like rebels without a cause--too excited to be free to do whatever we want but not knowing exactly what.

Who says images only form on TV screens? The ones that and are inked in my memories belong to a brick layered vada veda a rectangle of 1976 which measured mulberry by gauva by grapefruit. 
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Sharing this iconic tune, especially for those readers who enjoyed Doordarshan as much as I did.
And just in case you're interested, here's a list of all the movies in which the character played by 
Rajesh Khanna dies in the end.
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Are there any images from your childhood that you'd like to share with me?

24 comments:

  1. My mom told me about TV in hr childhood, where there was only one TV show on Saturdays - Tarzan. When the family was traveling, they had to stop the car somewhere and plug the TV in so they wouldn't miss the show :D

    The Multicolored Diary

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    1. This is so precious Zalka. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. This image still haunts me😁

    And the music that played before the news was ominous, don't you think?

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    1. You and I inhabited different worlds CRD. I liked the tune:)
      It was the harbinger of on-screen entertainment.

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  3. Hari OM
    I love the measurements of your image. I have few firm images from childhood, but those where are there are from summer holidays with my mother's parents on their farm in the Scottish Borders. High on a hillside, with lambs and calves and geese and preparing the fields of hay... then coming into the house with Granny's soup smelling warm and hearty and home made breads.. and the smell of wet sheep dog and old wellingtons on top of it all... YAM xx

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    1. This is why I love this challenge so much. Not only do I get to visit people from all over the world, I even get to frolic in their fond memories. I am transported to Scottish Borders right now Yam. Thank you for that image.

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  4. Such innocent are our ‘bachpaan ki yaadein’. Your posts send my heart fluttering, thank you for taking us along. I am sure this tune has etched on many hearts like you and me.

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  5. We owned the first colour TV in our street and I'll never forget the looks of amazement on our neighbour's faces when we invited them round to watch the tennis from Wimbledon! As for childhood memories the one that stands out was owning my first car - albeit a tin one with pedals!

    I is for ...

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    1. I imagine that 'tin one with pedals' has given you many stories to write about Keith.

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  6. I was thinking I would be for Imli (Tamarind). Seeing Doordarshan logo I already heard the umm ummm ummmm..Everytime i heard it then,i would think,apna Mukesh (the Playback singer)would start singing soon after the long intro, but it would be Geetanjali Iyer or Rini Simon or one of those reading News.It does have a sad tone to it don't you think? Those DD days...ironically this Covid season also reminds me of that era. If the Indian punctuality had to be measured then,we could have hit the Guinness Book & defined IST(the Indian Standard Time)differently than what it is more commonly known for.
    Fridays were dedicated for Power Cut in the place i lived Dombivli (Trans Mumbai to be precise). We dint own any 'Dyanora TV' for very long.But we (my sis & me)had a very innovative Amuma. Like most dada -dadis, she too was used to her afternoon snooze.With us around her nap was a challenge.So she came up with this brilliant idea.
    She would ask us to close the balcony door,draw the curtains so we have darkroom.Those days we used to have a Ventilation (mini glass window for any emergency if doors got locked)concept above every door which was slightly kept open. She would tell us keep staring at the ceiling, through the light that would pass from the ventilation glass, we could see some moving images on the ceiling. She will turn them into interesting characters of her impromptu cute stories &secretly succeed in her mission of keeping us in one place plus putting us to sleep.I would wake up little disappointed to have lost so much of playing time.Those images would be of common people walking on the streets, some vendors, some neighbors. If they moved Right to Left on that street, their image on our ceiling would move left to right.And we would think our Amuma was a great scientist cum story teller.Neither she learnt any Physics nor the concept of 'Refraction'the bending of light...in that sense she was truly a scientist who gave us our eco-friendly first B/W motion picture experience without any electricity/projector or a TV.

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    1. Whoa! Vidya. This story of your Amuma and her ingenious idea is worthy of a short story. Thank you for painting such a beautiful image of your childhood.
      Love you.

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  7. This bought back so many memories...We too got our first balck n white TV in 1976 and we too were Sunday hosts for the movie and every Thursday for Chitrahaar !

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    1. That's such a coincidence. I'm happy you enjoyed the read.
      Thank you for stopping by.

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  8. Brought back a trove of memories. Sometime back Id written a piece on TV Day titled टी वी की याद में। Similar flavour but different ingredients. I loved the measure of the verandah.

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    1. I will be hopping over to read your poem Sonia. Thank you.

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  9. Wow... This reminded me of my grandparents place too... That Sunday Martinee movie or Mahabharat..for which the entire lane's families used to turn up... And if someone is missing we kids were sent to escort them.... And in that small room everyone used to find a place to sit... As if it were a movie theatre... What golden days and golden memories!! The fun of watching TV that way is way way different from sitting alone and watching today's series on the phones!!

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    1. So true Ira. Those were the days of smaller rooms, larger gatherings. It's quite the opposite these days, sadly.

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  10. This reminded me of something very interesting, it was the time when VCRs came into existence. We, a group of 8-10 families, used to hire a VCR with 3 video cassettes of Bollywood movies for overnight viewing. So much preparation was to be made for people to sit and also to lie-down after a while, and non-stop food arrangements! The movies used to get spiced-up with the group flavour, soft murmurs, teasing giggles and eye movements of aunties during romantic scenes and high charged-up responses during fight scenes. Well, nostalgic days!

    Remembering Jagjit singh ji's these lines...
    Ye daultal bhi lelo ye shaurat bhi lelo
    Bhale chinlo mujse meri jawani
    Magar mujko lauta do bachpan ka sawan
    Wo kagaz ki kasti wo barish ka pani
    Love, Nisha

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    1. Thank you for painting that beautiful picture of your VCR days--priceless and precious memories.
      Yes, this song sums it up perfectly.

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  11. Your post reminded me of the many stories my mother used to tell us about getting the telly during her childhood. Nowadays with straming services, inverters and unlimited internet, we tend to take a lot for granted!

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    1. You bet Shweta. We were just such a mahaan generation and still are! Ha! ha! We had the privilege of growing up in a world which was more rooted and connected to mother Earth. Life is cool now, no doubt but ....
      And so says every mother to her daughter:)

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