Random Thoughts

End of An Era

The morning inevitably began with the news on All India Radio. This was against the backdrop of Shillong’s furious monsoons lashing the hills or the icy cold. The voices were all too familiar. Surajit Sen, Barun Haldar, Pamela Singh, Lotika Ratnam or a Vijay Chakrapani.

In those days it was the Radio that was the life line for all of us, a technology we valued. Whether it be the news or a sports commentary or Binaca Geet Mala, it was the Radio which took us to the world of events, sports and music. A favourite past time was who was reading the news? From the voice we could detect the news reader. And, sometimes I visualized them as tall and lanky, short and dark or tall and stout.

There was no television then, but the radio helped us to visualize with our inner eye. The first thing we bought was quite huge and sometimes we had to rap it hard for it to work! It was a gawky looking thing which would work only if pushed and prodded. Whenever, it got bad there was a way to push it and pummel it so that instantly the voice came out crackling.

One could not think of a day without the morning, afternoon or the evening news. Of course prime time was the morning news from 8.15a.m to 8.30a.m and the news at night from 9.00p.m to 9.15p.m. I would love to listen to Vijay Chakrapani, Lotika Ratnam or a Surajit Sen, and was certainly disappointed when I learnt that Vijay Chakrapani had graduated to Autralian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

One day I was simply delighted to hear his voice on ABC. In the morning the English news was preceded by the Assamese, Oriya and Bengali news. There too there were stalwarts: Lily Das Malik, Upendra Kumar Pahar Singh and Nilima Sanyal. Or, who could forget the sentimentalism of a Debdulal Bandopadhyay? who single handedly took us to victory in the Bangladesh war! Bandopadhyay’s sonorous voice tinged with melancholy was the hallmark of news reading in that particular phase of India’s political intervention in the then East Pakistan.

The Radio was faceless but the voices were unforgettable. Cricket commentary during the winter season was another episode we looked forward to. Here the commentators were many:
“Good Morning Listeners, I am Anand Setalwad reporting from the Ferozeshah Kotla grounds New Delhi. The first cricket test match between India and the West Indies is about to begin”.
And there would be a background of frenzied noise from the spectators. It was as if I was imported to that very cricketing ground. My surprises did not cease when I discovered that a news reader like Surajit Sen was equally comfortable when giving a running commentary for a Hockey Olympics Match. Those were the days when the Radio a primeval form of technology was the most popular as we had little choice.
Then came the age of transistors, which were smaller but more comfortable to handle. Short wave, medium wave, kilo hertz were terminologies which were only too common and which we fervently understood. Wednesday evenings meant Binaca Geet Mala and Amin Sahani’s sonorous voice presaging the songs which he would choose. He was certainly an impresario, someone we simply could not forget. Listening to his voice, indeed his lyrical voice was a treat.
The era of televisions dawned in the 1980s with the Asian Games being held in New Delhi. The type cast radio was gradually forgotten. I clung to it with memories and with tenacity. I would continue listening to the afternoon songs of Vividh Bharti songs from Hindi Films which rocked my world and took it to spellbound heights of dizziness. All this was against the backdrop of the seasonal cycles of Shillong: Winter, tepid Summer or the furious monsoons. The last relic was a transistor which I bought only to listen to songs. One day it disappeared and together with it an era.


More by :  Ananya S Guha

Top | Random Thoughts

Views: 3670      Comments: 2

Comment I am too much nostalgic about Nilima Sanayal. I am a radio amateur and fanatic.I have purchased a damaged valve radio and restored it. Searching for an audio cloip of Nilima Sanyal.


B B Mandal
10-Aug-2013 03:24 AM

Comment Its nostalgic indeed, but look back, it was sheer happiness those days, a great asset, whether it was Murphy or anything. We also had total concentration on the song, news, what so ever, for thier was no visual diversion. Enjoyed yr article.

bulbul roy
19-Sep-2012 06:17 AM

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