Rewind to the 70’s

Telephones – Remember the black rotary dial contraption we started with, the old bakelite phone? Well, that was a real fickle device requiring frequent visits by the telephone’s dept technician to keep it in working order. You screamed through it like it was needed to get the voice through to the other end (to this day we Indians do exactly that, even with mobiles!!) There were local calls and then trunk calls. STD came later on and then dialing was a pain, you had to be sharp eyed, and required an undistracted 5 minutes before you completed dialing all the numbers. Noisy kids who shot by got sharp raps on their ears. Each locality had a benevolent guy who loaned the use of his phone – or in apartments, there would be one phone in the whole building. It would be quite normal practice to call twice within a few minutes. The first call to ask for the person you want to speak to and the second time to speak to that person (some kid will be dispatched to that person’s home to call him to the phone!)…..Unbelievable eh?

TV – I still remember the first advertised TV’s (color TV came during the Asian games) were companies like Daynora, Onida, ECTV, Keltron…there would be two channels, DD1 and a local channel. You waited a whole week to see the one telecast movie which was an award winner; of course, arty like Mrigya…The most popular program being the movie songs hour (Geetmala?). Serials like Buniyad & Humlog were gripping events of the evening. TV ad’s were eagerly watched…. Like Lyril, Palmolive ka jawab nahin, Rasna, Surf…TV’s had no remote control, but with 2 channels, who needs one? The TV was blanketed with a nice cover specially embroidered by the seamstress in the house…later came the stiff & horrible plastic covers that yellowed with age.

Fans - Usha, GEC and Khaitan rules the roost and the fans had only three blades - or was it four?? We had that projecting speed controller on the wall which of course had at least one speed that did not work, the speed you wanted the most. Then we had those table fans. I read somehwere that Usha fans are now going to be made in China!

Films – Like somebody said, every Hindi movie had to have one of these - Amitabh, Dharmendra, Helen, Bindu, Ajit, Hema malini, Rekha, or Zeenat…Malayalam had hairy actors like Vincent & damsels like Sreedevi, IV Sasi dictated the mood & Tamil had Kamal Hassan & Rajni in the lead.

Cars – We had two options, the Ambassador or the Premier…colors being black and one or two other options at most dealers. Fancy colors meant a few months wait. In any case it took a few months and some premium payment to get a car!!

Two wheelers – Aha , slightly better, the Bajaj, Vespa, Vijay scooters ruled the roost – again a few months wait, especially the Bajaj. You kicked and kicked the starter for ages, sometimes, the scooter had to be tilted sideways to get the fuel flowing. As far as mobikes were concerned, it was Bullet or Yezdi, and of course the older Jawa (Ind Suzuki & Hero Honda were just around the corner).
I had already written about them earlier…

Gas – Most homes still had firewood in kitchens or the kerosene stove. Getting an Indane gas cylinder & stove meant long waiting periods. Only one cylinder per house meant very careful planning & monitoring since a new cylinder was not available instantly, again a few days wait or special connections with the dealer.. Before that it was the Nutan kerosene stove that everybody wanted!!

Newsreels – Who can forget those black & white events – It was always a flood in Bihar or something in Delhi that people waited patiently through for 15 minutes before the movie started in the theatre. AC was unheard of in theaters or switched on sparingly.

Power supply – When it became summer, power supply was erratic with blackouts & brownouts – This meant lighting up the hurricane lamp, and also during the night, no ‘goodnight’ but the incessant humming swoop attacks by mosquitoes…No inverters existed.

Singers & songs – Kishore, Rafi (he passed away in 80), Lata, Asha, Yesudas, SPB, Janki, Susheela & few others…But they did a really good job, though many a talented person never saw limelight during their reign…

Watches – If I recall right, there was only the HMT. All others were imported or ‘smeggled from Gelf’…or a relative brought it from UK or USA…BTW, will you believe me when I tell you that the watch pictured – the HMT Jawan is now being offered on ebay for US$ 365.00, and is considered super rare & cool!! Remember the ad? If you have the inclination, we have the time, the exact time….

Cricket – We knew cricket mainly through the radio commentary in Kerala – since it was not quite popular in the state, unlike football – Ah, we had the Madan lal, Yashpal Sharma, Gavaskar, vengsarkar, Sivaramakrishnan and all those chaps.. Sachin was playing the gully variety then….I guess..

Indie Pop music – Usha Uthup, Sharon Prabhakar, Preeti Sagar – that was about it…My heart is beating, hare rama – dum maro dum…

But the days went by, we were happy to be outdoors where life was a breeze..

Computers did not exist and if we wanted to talk to somebody we went over and met him, no SMS or mobile phones, naturally. We were happy using a bicycle or a bus to go places, or walk short distances, for that matter…We did not have credit cards, debit cards or ATM’s and were living well within our means…As borrowing was the only go during a shortfall, we did have to maintain good relationships with relatives & friends…

But who said today is not exciting? No complaints, just remembering the roads we traveled…

In all frankness, I should give full credits to some dude who started this topic ages ago at I based some of this on that outpouring from many contemporary fellows & served it here with gusto…


Praveen G K said…
Pretty much a comprehensive post. It is always fun to read about the eighties and nineties. Life was simple with very limited choices which we were adequately pleased with :-) Good post rekindling the good old times :-)
narendra shenoy said…
The amazing thing about the 70s and 80s was the tattiness of everything, not just in India but in the world. I have a souvenir - a polyester shirt from the US, that is of a hideousness that the pure-hearted of the present generation would not credit to the human race. I guess it must have been produced by one of Timothy Leary's followers.

India of course was the champ of everything crappy. Cars, bikes, TVs, clothes, virtually every manufactured thing. Yet, I remember enjoying every bit of it. Oh, those days! Your post has hit the old nostalgia spot.
harimohan said…
nostalgic post indeed
Atleast I'm happy my family has still kept some of those 70's contraptions even though they are pretty outdated. As soon as we bought a new TV, the old one from the 70's was ready to be discarded, but I fought for it, and now the old TV is mine. It's a bit blurry sometimes, but otherwise fine. It looks somewhat like the one in that picture. It has knobs to change channels. It can play only 12 channels at a time, but I'm satisfied. I think grandpa's house still has that dailing telephone!
Happy Kitten said…
another nostalgic post.... ah the good ol days..

I guess if we were rtnd to those days we would be totally confused for days!
telephones- I remember the pre-STD days, when you would place trunk calls with PP (particular person). You didn't have to pay if the PP wasn't there.

television- LOL @ "The TV was blanketed with a nice cover specially embroidered by the seamstress in the house". In addition to the brands that you mention, remember Televista and Nikitasha (the latter was a company started by Raj Kapoor's DIL?).

In the late 70s, I even remember a TV manufacturer that sold a TV with a colored screen. Not one sinle color but a screen with multiple colored bands going across it. There was a family in our apartment building that actually bought one of those and claimed to have the first "color" TV in the building. :D

Maddy said…
Thanks Praveen for dropping by...
Yup narenra - you are right , the quality in those days were no good and businesses had no plans for teh future, juts that today should be milked.

Thanks Hari & HK...

Lakshmi - actually my first Tv was a black & white Keltron 14" portable - pretty good one except that we used it with an indoor antenna and well, when somebody walked by the picture moved!!

BPSK - yeah - it was daynora which had the three color banded one..oh the telephone operators were a class depended on their mood..
Nanditha Prabhu said…
this topic pops out now and then during any conversation which takes us back to our good old times!it was a good one maddy! pretty nostalgic!made me think of our first black and white crown tv. We were the first to own it in the apt complex and we had the whole flat pouring in during matches and hum log .
I also remember the current cuts during exam eves , when we sat around lighted candles and play with the hot wax which used to make patterns on the ground.

My fathers first scooter ... was lamby! our family of four and 2 cousins used to be accomodated on it with an extra carrier!;)

thinking of it the gadgets now will get out dated soon and we will be nostalgic of the times now! may be we can tel our grand children:)
Pradeep said…
One point is that in those days, everything moved slowly. There's a distinct hurrying up today, which I don't think is good.
Anonymous said…
Stumbled across your blog today!!just to keep in touch with the good ole days --I collect wind up watches, old cameras ,record players, spool tape recorders, old coins, old stamps, old kerosene lamps,listen to old songs--Trini Lopez, Doris Day,Connie Francis,Cliff Richard,Elvis,50's &60's--Mukesh, Manaday,Hemant--where are Devanand Anthony Quinn,,Dean Martin,Charles Bronson?

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