The time machine

Times sure have changed. Photo/Pixabay

The other day my friend gifted me a time machine that took me back to the early ‘50s. No, it was not the H G Wells contraption but a dated magazine — the humour magazine Koravanji which shut down recently but now appears in a different avatar, named Aparanji. The 68-year-old copy of the magazine, which I had, needed to be handled carefully. The pages were brittle and could get torn if one’s perusal was rough. I carefully thumbed through the magazine. What attracted me more were the advertisements that subsidised its production cost. The first page carried an advertisement of a drug store whose telephone number was 3070. Imagine a 4-digit telephone number for Bangalore, we now have to struggle with 8 digit landline and 10 digit mobile numbers, not to speak of the STD code that has come into use!

The ‘nation’s best’ Bengal bulbs greeted me on another page. ‘All study will be just play if it is done under Mysore Lamps’, claimed another advertisement. But where are those bulbs now? Another one talked about a company’s 50 years of service. The company must be more than 100 years old now, that is, if it hasn’t shut down its shutters. Ah! Here is a bank advertisement with its head office in then Calcutta, that did business in Bengaluru. A sum of Rs 92 and eight paise invested in that bank fetched a grand Rs 100 after 3 years, the interest rate was an impressive 2.68% per annum. Hope the RBI won’t get a clue and slash rates further.

Can you open an account in a bank with just Rs 5? Yes, you could in Canara Industrial and Banking Syndicate which later became the prestigious Canara Bank. ‘The best radio factory in India’ greeted its readers with a slogan, “Help India by encouraging Indian industries.” Was the Make in India slogan already in vogue then? But we did not heed its call and the factory has simply vanished. Old-timers like me remember Raja aftershave and Afghan Snow Cream which have been swept away by fancy new ones. These advertisements in the issue made me nostalgic. I still remember vividly the huge hoarding of Afghan Snow Cream in Seshadripuram. I remember when Mysore sandal soap dominated the market, and when Hamam was ‘India’s favourite soap’. Then there was Kalila’s sandal soap for ‘charming beauty’.

A ‘nervine and blood-forming tonic with vitamins’ cost Rs 5 for 16 ozs and a smaller one Rs 2 and 14 paisa. Wonder why they did not round it off to Rs 3, maybe there was no shortage of change then! Oh! There was also mechanised laundry on Commercial Street, that also had home delivery service. It was the first such washing service, and it promised a longer life to the clothes washed in its modern machinery!

Today you have to walk to the laundrywala, he won’t come to you. Times sure have changed.

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