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Echoes from the age of radio

Echoes from the age of radio

The pre-visual media era was a fertile ground for imagination

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Last Updated : 21 June 2024, 00:14 IST
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One cannot help reminiscing about childhood memories, especially in the twilight of one’s life. That era was marked by a blend of ignorance and innocence. Our only windows to the world were the radio and newspapers, which provided news in retrospect. The radio programmes are still etched in our memories. Who can forget Binaca Geet Mala? Or the live commentary of our beloved game, cricket? The commentators made the games sound more interesting than they actually were. We were told that cricket should be heard, whereas tennis should be seen. I stand by this, having personally witnessed both Test matches and Davis Cup tournaments later in my life.

The only form of cricket we were familiar with was the 5-day format for international matches, which included a ‘rest day’ after the third day. We would glue our ears to the radio when a Test match was on. The commentator’s phrase, “The batsman does a bit of gardening,” would irritate me no end. I would think, “They are spending so much on matches. Can they not appoint gardeners to do the job? Why should the batsman do gardening?”

In my young mind, a “night watchman” conjured the image of a man who carried a bed and a lunch box, all set to spend the night on the field, until my mother clarified what that actually meant. I was relieved that the player didn’t really spend the night out cold on the field.

My mother also lamented that even Test players were not getting ‘proper’ jobs. Today, cricket players cannot think of doing anything other than playing cricket, as the game has become professional and the players are now steeped in wealth, thanks to events like IPL tournaments. The status of the ‘night-watchman’ has also risen significantly, especially with the prime minister of the country considering himself a chowkidar (watchman).

A news item I remember fondly is the newsreader announcing during a Parliament or Legislature session that “the Opposition members rushed to the well of the House.” I imagined a drinking water well in the middle of the House and was very concerned for the safety of the members, praying for their safe return. I greatly admired them for risking their lives for the sake of people’s causes.

To be frank, I learned that there was no such well only when I had to sit in the Officers’ Gallery of the State Legislature during a session while holding certain government positions. I was deeply disappointed not to find a well in the House and had hoped there was one to which the members had rushed!

The curiosity, inquisitiveness, and scope for imagination that ruled during the pre-visual media era have now become things of the past and belong to the realm of nostalgia. With visual media baring everything to the naked eye, there is nothing left for curiosity and imagination.

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