Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hey, Young People, Want to Know What Life Was Like Then? - Part 1

I was just thinking: do young people know how difficult life was for us old timers? You would like to know? 

Imagine these vignettes from around thirty to forty years ago:

You had to go two kilometres to a shop having a telephone to make a call. So, you mostly used your office telephone to call friends and relatives. And, that too if there was an emergency. You had the round dial that would go "krrr... krr... krr..."

You still wrote letters to know what was going on in a person's life. If it was urgent a telegram would be sent. People used post offices to send money.

Movies were the only sort of entertainment and we would gather at the nearby theatre on a friday to catch a movie's first show. We used to call it "first day first show."

Matinees were movies shown in the first show of the day and "matinee queen or idol" meant a female star who is so sexy that we all wanted to catch the first show. Waheeda Rehman, Madhubala, Sadhana, were all matinee idols. Wonder why that term is no longer used. 

All our spare time was spent in playing, or, at home reading books. Friends would drop in and call us for the following games: marbles, gilli danda, lagori, tag (pakda pakdi), eyes prize (I don't know what this game is called except that you touched a spot and said "eyes prize"), langdi (hopping on one leg), et cetera. All these games have vanished. In addition cricket and football were our favorite games played at school and near home. 

There were tournaments - both football and cricket - where the local team was cheered. Since I am a Chembur boy we had the Chembur Challengers in football, the Ginnis were the favourite of the Kannadiga boys. KV was called "Pele" at that time and he was treated like a star.

Picnic meant going to Kanheri Caves or Elephanta Caves with our own food and water. We didn't have bottled water then.

In Tilak Nagar where I lived (where future star Anil Kapoor also lived, yes, we are contemporaries) we had screening of films during the festival season. Since we had 112 buildings there were a wide range of movies being shown with stars like Shammi Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar, et cetera. Music was also played before the film show, which was the only source of listening to music.

When television arrived around 1973, a house in the next building bought a black and white television. I remember it was kept on top of a cupboard so that everyone could see. We used to watch the Sunday movie standing outside, peeking in through the bars of the window. On wednesdays we watched Chitrahaar which was a compilation of songs. 

Since cricket matches were five-day affairs, shops used to keep a television in their windows facing outside and we used to watch kneeling on the sidewalk. It was good advertising for the shops.

News came through Siemens and Grundig radios. Newspapers and magazines were subscribed by the really educated and shared with neighbors. There were lending libraries that lent books and magazines for a price, Re one for a book and fifty paise for a magazine or comic.

(Got to go now. More to come.)

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