Those were the days

First of all, I must admit that the impetus for this blog came from the programme ‘Witness’ on NDTV. Regrettably I saw only the last part of it. Curiously, it covered a lot of things that were close to my heart…of times that had gone by…

I remembered the Vijay Scooter. My friend got an opportunity to work in Sweden for a year, so he lent me his vehicle for the duration. It took me a few rides to get used to the big difference in speed, and mind you, the Vijay was indeed nifty. While Lamby& Bajaj ruled the roost those days, riding a Lamby took more skill, the engine was off centre, so you had to be careful with the balance. The Vijay was thus easier to learn. Was I happy on that sleek blue vehicle!! We went all over Bangalore, Nandi hills and all kinds of places on it. Well after an year my friend came back and took it away, and I purchased the first of the modern mobike’s – The Ind-Suzuki…But the Vijay was a trustworthy vehicle indeed…Gone now, no where in sight…Remember the Enfield Bullet bikes, they went ‘thuc thuc’ or the inimitable Czech origin Ideal Jawa that whined (to be replaced by the Yezdi)…

While the Amby was always around, I recall landmasters, morris minors, standard heralds and the rest (even impala’s – my neighbour in Bangalore had one of them ships), I remember by uncle’s Premier Padmini more then everything else

Made from a fiat 1100 with a one litre engine, delivering 40HP.
This site has an old one for sale and states ‘the car is for people who need a boot but do not have much loot!’ If interested, read this review that puts the Padmini against the new Fiat Siena.

Of course there is the venerable Ambassador and will always remain as the only
bullet proof Indian made car…It can carry many a family within its spacious interiors, ride through dust and floods, ride on Kerosenated petrol or Ramar Pillai’s herbal hooch and ‘hopefully’ withstand small arms fire.

It is indeed a long way, to driving my Jaguar. What next?


As a small kid, I used to sit in front of the valve radio that was kept on its table, and fiddle about with the knobs watching the ‘magic’ cat’s eye thin and the sound go ‘fhium’ when close to getting that good reception, I remember the webbed aerials strung close to the ceiling, anchoring point for spiderwebs and home to a number of spiders. There were programs in the morning when Chettan used to teach aniyathis how to sing…then there were the chettnodu chodikku programs…and above all shabda rekha’s on Sunday afternoon’s when the whole family used to sit & listen to movie soundtracks and drama’s and katha-prasangams…When nobody was around, I would skim through shortwave to hear from distant places…Voice of America, BBC….With large doses of static hissing away in the background, I would dream of going to those lands some time (like I did eventually).

Time went by, the portable transistor radio came along and introduced us to Vividbharati, hindi songs and listening on the fly. Aap ki farmaish was a favourite, you will always hear from the various
Jhumritalaya listeners on Vividbharati. Later, I learnt how to make transistor radios and transmitters at school, starting with the crystal radio.

Then came the presenters who made radio listening fun – I remember Sarojini Shivalingam for two reasons, one the 330-430PM session in Radio Ceylon where they had the new movie songs and Sarojini did that session (Ilankai Olivarappu Koottusthapanam asiasevai…) in funny accented Malayalam after providing a long list of ‘prekshakr’ who requested the song….The other reason, she hailed from a village called Kakayur neighbouring Pallavur…Whenever we passed that village some relative or the other who was in the same car would proudly say, see see that house behind the coconut trees, there can you see, there…, there lives Sarojini…u know she lives there these days after her retirement!!!

And there was Ameen Sayani – Oh what a pleasure it was listening to Binaca Geetmala at 8PM on Wednesdays on my Keltron transistor radio Bhayiyon aur behnon, Ajj pandravhe paidan me...in his own inimitable lyrical style…He made the song even more interesting with some added titbits…Like Shivalingam, I remember Sayani for a second reason, some years ago, I met a chap at the Dubai airport, who was travelling to Bombay from America and who stated he was Amin’s brother and he had a tall story to tell about his exploits in Vegas….

I don’t know if radio’s sell in Indian cities & villages anymore, it is now TV’s and a whole breed or brash and supremely confident anchors… Reporters reported in the past, now they go on and put a spin and a hype on it!! Gone are Doordarshan’s deadpan and the chaste Minu, Niti ravindran, Gitanjali Aiyar, Rini Simon, Komal GB Singh, Ramu Damodaran….. now we have the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai on one end and the Christian Amanpour at the other, excelling in the art of whipping up the viewer’s emotions, hyping and spinning…

Hey, talking of Binaca, do you remember the Binaca toothpaste and the small charms they used to have with every tube?? Never mind, Never mind, humour me…


Well, those were the days…..

Comments

indianadoc said…
We also watched the NDTV program towards the end...it ws just awesome and u'r write up is again a wonderful journey down the lane...i remember, as a kid I used to collect those small 'charms' that we got with binaca...jhumrithalaiyya always sounded like a fairly land for me...radio is still very popular...I remember in the hostel almost all the students had a pocket radio the one u get fr the wayside shops for 10 or 20 bucks, for they were not allowed to have anything bigger(though a few sneakingly had!)...hmm...enjoyed the post...
maddy said…
actually there is so much more to remember - but that can i guess fit into another blog , thanks
Venkat said…
Dear Mady,I didn't watch the NDTV program but can easily link my childhood days to the blog contents. Really enjoyed reading this one and as always you write well. Also it is interesting to note how common many of our lifes were those days in India be it Binaca toothpaste or Vijay scooter. I wonder whether the same will apply to those digital world kids!!. May be it will and will be in some other form.
maddy said…
Thanks venkat for finding time to drop in - drop by again during ur travails
Sidman said…
A correction. The Lamby or Lambretta scooter has its engine dead centre. Its the Vespa and Bajaj scooters that had the unstable side mounted engine layout. The Vijai is peppier than the Lambretta, but not as steady at higher speeds.
prejith preman said…
After 7 years of publishing this post, I came to read it..... Am just 23 but this post had even made me to a nostalgic mood... Gr8 buddy....
Maddy said…
Thanks Prefit,
appreciate your comment

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