Monday, October 25, 2010


I wonder how many people will now be remembering that, a few years back, one had to obtain a licence from the Indian Post and Telegraphs Department to own an ordinary domestic radio set in India !! The young generation of today , I am afraid, would not have even seen a licence taken in those days for a radio. The fact is that till the year 1985 one had to pay Rs. 15/- (the amount was less in the earlier years) in the Post Office and obtain a licence at the time of purchase of a radio and had to renew it every year by paying Rs.15/- under Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.

I had in one of my earlier posts mentioned about a HMV Tuner SONIC IV purchased by me in the year 1978. While searching for some old documents I was delighted to see the licence of the set among the old papers. The blue book is in tact showing the picture of a transmission tower on the front and an advertisement of "EVEREADY' Battery on the back cover. This indicates that by then AIR and P&T Dept. had gone commercial. . The first two pages show the details of the owner( this humble self) and the details of places the owner had taken it. The inside pages show that the licence was renewed only upto 31st December 1984 probably because, by then, the Govt. had abolished this licence with the aim of popularising the Radio in rural areas and also, may be, due to the impracticality of ensuring that every radio has a licence renewed up to date.

The inside pages also show the stringent conditions for owning a radio. It stipulates that the set should be used only at the address given and not even in a building or residence partly used for business purposes! Change in address had to be informed to the Post Office in which the set stood registered. Any alteration to the location of the set should be informed to the licencing authority! The set should not be used by anybody other than the licensee or the members of his household residing at the location! In the event of sale of the set, the matter should be informed to the Post Office and the licence transferred to the buyer! The confusion such a licence regime could now create with millions of sets in operation can well be imagined.

The pages also reveal an interesting piece of information. Till 1980 the licence fee was Rs.3/- There was a 500% increase in 1981 when the fee was increased to Rs.15/-

P.S. Please click on the photos for details.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Sitting in front of my several old music players and the collection of gramophone records, I used to wonder about the vast changes that has taken place in listening to music since the invention of Phonograph by Edison and, especially for me, since my father purchased a U.M.S. Radio in 1960 and I purchased a Philips transistor radio (VICTOR) in 1970. The hand wound gramophones of Victor, Columbia, HMV and other brands, the common music players of my childhood days, were replaced by the electrically operated record players, mainly of HMV and Philips. The picture of the lovable dog, Nipper by name, peering into the horn of the hand winding gramophone was one of the most familiar( now nostalgic) and famous logo of all time for music lovers. In fact, for many including the not so old, the word gramophone instantly brings this picture in their mind. Many old timers will also remember the small tin container with the needles of the gramophone.

The electrically operated record players like HMV Fiesta (combo) and several other Philips players were followed by Stereo Systems in the early 70s. Stereo players, Amplifiers and speakers were flooding the market for about two decades. Again Philips and HMV were dominating the local markets for players and speakers and Cosmic, Sonodyne, Panatronic, Murphy, Bush etc., for amplifiers. HMV's Super Stereo with separate amplifier and speakers and Philips' Hi-Q International were very popular in those days.

At the beginning of the 70s Compact Cassette players started arriving with brands like Sharp and Bush making them in India. Cassette players of Sony, National Panasonic, Hitachi, Akai were also available in grey markets. Cassette players, became hugely popular with its cost effectiveness and easiness to handle.I first bought a 'Sharp brand' cassette player and was thrilled at the easiness with which I could record songs with it. Later I got a similar National Panasonic set . While this set is still with me in good working condition, I don't know where the 'Sharp' set is at present. At first Indian made Cassette tapes were not available. Cassettes
of Sony, BASF, TDK, Hitachi, Philips etc., were the ones available. But much later Indian Cassette tapes like T-Series, Meltrack, Coney etc also arrived bringing down the cost down. Two-in One sets (Radio with Cassette player) of Sony, Panasonic , Akai etc were also a rage in those days. NRIs arriving with impressive foreign made sets was a common sight and such sets were on proud display in drawing rooms like a status symbol. Radiograms (Radio cum record Player) from HMV, Philips, UMS etc were also available in many drawing rooms. There were even Three-in One sets (Radio, Cassette player, Record player combo set) available. A friend of mine from my school days, Mr. Damodaran to be exact, had purchased such a set in the 70s and we used to listen to it for long hours in those days. A couple of months back, i.e.,after about four decades, he brought it to me in a state of disrepair with major parts missing . It was lying with him all these years uncared for as his efforts to get it repaired were in vain. He told me that he had lost his old radio, HMV radiogram and other musical gadgets which were familiar to me also. Well, the Three-in-one set has now been brought back to good working condition, of course, after a lot of efforts and expenditure. This portable Radiogram is cute and looks like a briefcase when closed.

By the middle of the 90s CD players and CDs arrived in the market in a big way and we have since seen rapid changes in equipments and listening tastes. Big music systems, Home Theatre Systems, DVD players, portable music gadgets like MP3, MP4,Mp5 players and mobile phones with music players have come to stay. USB flash drives and MM/SD Cards loaded with music are also there. Naturally Cassette players have almost vanished from the scene like its forerunner, the record players.

Like some of us who are still nostalgically bound with old valve radios and gramophones, I am sure there will be several music enthusiasts who still love their cassette players and would prefer to listen to music on them and to record their favourite songs from the radio directly on tapes. It is true, tapes may get caught in the pinch rollers, old tapes may produce hissing noise and tapes may get affected by moisture in the air etc. But , to them, the music coming through them will still be heart warming and true. Besides, for recording purposes, the Compact Cassette player is still the easiest. Original casssetts released by HMV,Music India, Music Today, Tharangini etc., offered a store house of authentic information about the song, its composer, lyricist and singer on their inlay cards. Apart from listening to them once in a way, it is precisely for this reason that I preserve my audio cassettes. For the real cassette lovers this is the time to get their old equipments repaired/serviced and kept in good condition as more and more repairers are becoming indifferent to repairing them eventhough spare parts are still available. They will also do well to buy and keep on stock a few blank cassettes before they vanish from the markets.

Well, happy listening with cassete players!!!

P.S.Please click on the photos for details.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


My house, in which I have been staying for the last decade,is only 100 metres from a beautiful river flowing towards the Arabian sea about 3 kilo metres away. In fact,from the balcony of my house,I can see a portion of the river and the occasional country boats carrying village farm produce and building materials mainly sand(illicit and licit)from up the river.We had a better and wider sight of the river till recently before a friend of mine constructed a residential building on the opposite side leaving only a gap between two buildings for us to see the river. In fact buildings are coming up fast on both sides of the river and it will be only a matter of time before the river view is completely denied to the residents on this side.

The river and its banks offer a fasci
nating sight with a good road on one side and a kutcha road on the other and is ideal for a morning or evening walk( a morning walk in the evening or vice verse can also be attempted !!).In the evenings one can have a view of the sunset, the sun disappearing behind the trees and the mangroves.(Kandal forests).There is also an old, about 30 metres long, bridge across the river nearby on the Tellicherry-Coorg road. It offers a beautiful sight from the river side. The narrow bridge is past its prime and in spite of its dangerous condition heavy vehicles including fully loaded buses, are plying on it day in and day out. There is also a prawn cultivating farm on the river side threatening to pollute the river.

Yes,this place is in a historically famous town,
famous also for all the wrong reasons like political rivalry, violence,knifing,bomb making and bombing, hartals and bundhs(regular as well as the instant catcall model) and even potential for atrocities of the 'Palm-chopping'variety. But in spite of all this we all live here peacefully as if these things do not matter to us and looking only to the positives like the cool sea shore, beautiful Nature,friendly people, easy accessibility to other areas like,e.g.Mahe for those who are attracted to it, temples,hospitals, a grand old fort,a newly completed Town Hall, Cricket Stadium, Indoor Stadium, a sports stadium etc.etc. A new observation point for watching the roaring Arabian sea has come up recently about 2kms.from my place and is namedOverbury's Folly built on an elevated position almost on the sea with a Watch Tower and the whole area beautifully done up for people to spend a quiet evening on an ordinary day.It proves that we can also implement good ideas successfully. Like the river, the bridge, the mangroves and hillocks, there could be several other natural beauties near and around waiting to catch our attention. Let us look around to get amply rewarded.

Nostalgic old buildings,shops,grand old 'tharavad' houses,theatres, open areas,whatever is left of the paddy fields, good old playgrounds of our younger days, etc., are vanishing faster than the hair on one's head.Several areas which were familiar to us even five years back have become unrecognizable.The small old typical 'hotel and tea shop' on the opposite side of the road, from where we used to get our breakfast of 'Pittu', Kadala and Velleppam' on days when we did not feel like cooking, has vanished suddenly along with other petty shops nearby as part of the road widening programme. Similarly a beautiful tiled house opposite to us has been converted into a concrete monster with an outlandish coat of paint.It is now my regret that I do not have a photo of the tea shop and the old house!!

P.S.: As digital photography is now cheap and easy let us click and pr
eserve on record all the fond things around us.Don't forget the old black and white photographs.

Click on the photos for details