Friday, December 25, 2009

Thoughts-Things of the past

Recently, I read about old useful things like Rotary telephone, alarm clock (winding type), manual typewriters etc. which are almost extinct now, but were once very popular and in daily use. When we see one of them today, it does give us nostalgic feeling.

One such thing I remember is radiogram. Though not as popular as things mentioned above, I distinctly remember having a fixation on it. Earlier, there were only electric radios and hand winding gramophones. H.M.V. records were available in 78 rpms only, which were played on these gramophones. Then one day, probably in early sixties, I saw a radiogram at a relative’s place for the first time. A radio was fixed in a wooden cabinet on one side and a Gerrard record changer on the other side which could accommodate seven records at a time and played them automatically. On the lower part of the cabinet, one could store several records. The beauty of the cabinet with its compact design, highly glossy polish along with stylish ivory colored changer impressed me. I was instantly in love with it.

That time I was too young and knew we could not afford it, but, I had a single minded fixation on it and it was on top priority on my ‘want’ list as soon as I grew up and made enough money to buy one along with other things I wanted.

I did grow up and I did earn enough to afford it. But alas, by that time things had changed. Radiogram was replaced by small compact record players, in fact, two-in-ones, a small radio and a player of German or Japanese make. Radiograms were almost reduced to showcases adorning your room and easy to carry two-in-ones were in style. Then came three-in-ones, a radio, a player and a Grunding tape recorder in a brief case size container. So now these were the in thing and I wanted to possess one. I did eventually. But in my mind I was really sorry to watch radiograms vanish so soon, particularly, before I could enjoy one of my own. I still remember the royal beauty of those cabinets and changers. They had a charm of their own.

But like in life, things change and with that this also changed. I still feel that ache whenever I remember the past.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Experieces-Train travel

During my growing years, I was to travel from Calcutta to Bombay with my elder brother. There was some occasion in our extended family which we were to attend. At the last moment, my brother could not travel due to circumstances beyond control. We were thinking of canceling the trip, when my father decided to send me alone representing our family. I had never traveled alone earlier and was immediately scared. As it is I was not comfortable of the crowd and chaos at Howrah station whenever I visited it. So I told my mother that I didn’t want to go. When my father came to know about my reluctance, he told me that travel I will have to. There was nothing to be scared of. That my brother would see me to my seat at Howrah and my brother-in-law (my sister was in Bombay) would receive me at the V. T. station. So there would be no problem and I had nothing to be scared of and that I had to start traveling alone sometime.
I, or nobody else in the family for that matter, had the courage to talk back to my father. His word was law. I felt utterly depressed at the prospect of the coming travel.
On the D day, my father gave me two hundred Rupees (a very princely some at that time) in various denominations and instructed me to keep them in different pockets. As he was a man of strict discipline, he told me to keep note of every paise I spent. That he would check my expenditure on my return and I was to return the balance to him. My mother gave me some money from her own, without my father’s knowledge. I was a bit elated.
My brother came to see me off at the station, found my seat for me and gave me a few instructions like not to get down at every station. If at all, I should get down at a big station like Nagpur to stretch my legs and to board back quickly. He also requested a nice looking elderly couple, traveling opposite my seat to keep an eye on me. While getting off, my brother gave me a few Rupees to spend as I like. This was much more then I had expected. The cloud of doom started to lift and I was happy, almost.
During the travel, the elderly couple shared their food with me and offered me coffee every now and then. As far as I remember, I didn’t have to spend much, if anything, during the journey. My brother- in-law was there at the V. T. station to receive me. From there on it was a smooth ride. My-brother-in-law did not allow me to spend anything during my ten days stay in Bombay. While traveling back to Calcutta, I was a little less scared and in high spirits. On reaching Calcutta, I had more money then I could imagine even after returning the balance to my father. On the evening of my return, I went to my father with a piece of paper containing my expenses which were hardly Rupees forty or so, along with the balance to be returned.
To my utter surprise and disbelief, my father told me to keep the balance and didn’t even bother to check my expenditure.
Bingo…… I was a rich boy. I thought the balance would last me forever. But of course it didn’t. But while it lasted ….Oh God…. I had a real blast.
On another plus side, all my scares to travel alone vanished. On the contrary, I started looking forward to another venture alone, of course, with its fringe benefits.