Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Radio times

I felt lonely after packing my children to school and my husband left to work. My MIL stays with us but frequently she goes to her native place . So to keep me away from loneliness, I usually switch on the TV ( though I don’t watch programs). The sound of TV in my living room keeps me company while I am working in the kitchen or cleaning my other rooms. Today, I tuned on to the radio channel on my TV set top box to listen to the songs on AIR, only to take a trip down into the world of nostalgia dipping into memories of my cherished childhood.

Hmmmm......the pleasure of listening to songs on the radio with the jingles and the flawless, rightly modulated announcements like ‘ Idhu Akashvani, Bengaluru Kendra… hega samaya*……pip…pip…pip … …

Yes, those times when radio occupied a place of pride in most homes and doubled as a time keeper and helped to adjust our wall clocks to the right time and also tripled as home to cockroaches.

We had a NELCO radio which was a rectangular modern (semi-conductor) version compared to the bulky vacuum tube radio my grandfather had. It occupied a prominent position in my house too.

The radio then played the role of an educator, informer and entertainer. Informative programmes like quiz, special programs on agriculture, business,career choice, health,cookery, dramas, commentaries on cricket, discussions, talk shows, counseling( Psychologist Aruna Broota’s voice was thereaupetic), periodical news bulletins and the various film based programs.

Bhoole bisre geet, Binaca geetmala,( Binaca reminds me of the small animal miniatures that used to come with the binaca toothpaste --- I had a decent collection of those miniature toys.) Manchahe geet, Jaimala ( fauji farmaish) , Aap ki farmaish, the various tamil songs on Radio Ceylon, tamil dramas on AIR tamil ( this broadcast had lot of disturbances), December kutcheri of the Madras music season, the Sunday after noon English songs on Air Bangalore and many more such lovely times. All these lovely moments were during the pre-TV times( early 80’s) and we used to sleep early by 8.30 p.m. During night times appa and amma used to tune to ‘ then kinnam’ on Radio Ceylon which aired tamil songs. The lilting melodies were a lullaby for us.

During my summer vacation at my grand parents place ( Madras), it served as our alarm time piece, we used to wake up to the jingle of gopal palpudi( a famous toothpowder).Here too I remember my chitti( mother’s sis) leaving for college only after the radio announced its time.

Since Madras summers are hot, usually it is a practice in most families to wake early at 5 a.m , have brunch by mid morning (around 10.30) and retire for noon day siesta. So was the practice at my grandparent’s place. When grand ma was asleep in her room, we ( youngest aunt and cousins) sneaked into the kitchen and made Kamarkut( a sweet candy made with jaggery syrup) without my patti’s knowledge . Our joy was in licking this thiruttu kamarcut (candy made slyly) and sitting in front of the big 1X2ft radio (the huge one made with valves those days). As the song was broadcast , our chitti would tell us what the next song would be based on the movie’s name and singer’s name announced and start bragging mockingly to indicate how well she knew. We cousins being very small and na├»ve thought that chitti was very intelligent and were in awe of her.

During my teenage years ,after the advent of TV, I still preferred to switch on to our NELCO set inspite of DD’s afternoon programme. I would be very irritated when the flow of programmes was interrupted during thunder or rain, as they played with the radio waves.

While sleeping during nights with the radio on my head board, I would listen to all the haunting melodies of Navrang, Aradhana, Janak janak payal baje which I hum even today. The un-hyped but rightly modulated soothing voice of the news readers, RJ’s and the suspense of knowing what the next song add to the pleasure of listening to vividh bharathi.

In Today’s world of Internet radio and satellite radio, we have a wide band of private FM station to tune to from the comfort of our car or on our mobile. They have good quality reception but where is the quality in content. The programmes covered are so similar (traffic updates, love guru tips, sometimes the same song is played simultaneously on different stations) that you can’t say one station from the other.

My heart yearns for the simple vividh bharati for its program content. So given a radio, TV, CD-player or I-pod today I still prefer a simple radio with good reception and Vividh bharathi.

. *hega samaya in kannada means ‘ the time now is’


  1. this post brought back so many memories...the radio, the vacations, the cousins. fun days, carefree life


  2. Ooohhh...what-a-post! I remember a lot of ads from those days - yes, Gopal Palpodi - India, Ilangai, Singapore, Malaysia pondra ella naadugalilum ...
    Do you remember Dollar Biscuit ad?
    And oh, I miss kamarkut soo much!

  3. Thanks suma and yes, most our age would've similar memories of childhood.

    @uma, full marks to you for recalling the words of gopal palpudi ad. though i can't recall the dollar ad.