Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | July 28, 2011

“Old-fashioned” Television

Recently, I was a bit sad when I heard that my uncle is replacing his very old colour television after owning it for nearly 20 plus years. When I met him a year back, I asked him why he still enjoys watching this television. He impressed me with his resolve when he said as long as I can watch CNBC on this television; I don’t need to change it. I wonder what happened all of a sudden.

I don’t hide the fact that I am fond of things which were part of my childhood. The television of the yore was part of my upbringing and my uncle’s coloured television was perhaps the only one of those left in my extended family which was yet to be replaced.

These days’ people when we are inundated with gadgets, people will find it hard to understand a life where we had less. For them any such story is “retro-cool”. However, for me these are sometime sad reminiscence of a much less complicated life.

My father bought a black-and-white television in 1983 – just before the final match between India and West Indies in Prudential World Cup Cricket tournament. If I am not mistaken, I think we had to obtain a license those days in India to own a television. I may be wrong but with or without the license only few people owned television in our family. I was very conscious of that fact that we were privileged because we could own a television.

There was only channel to watch in those days but the television had a knob which could cater to twelve channels if they were offered. I remember sometimes I used to move that knob to check if our television antenna can catch signals from Bangladesh. In those days, at least in West Bengal, watching an American television series (such as Dallas) telecasted through Bangladesh was considered quite an achievement. Today, who would want to watch a channel from Bangladesh in India? Television, if I remember correctly was only for evening viewing.

The first innovative accessory that was added to our television was an indoor antenna. Later four legs were also added to that television. My father did not add anything else to our TV. I do remember they used to sell multi-coloured screen cover to be put on the black & white screens to get the “colour feel”. However, despite my wish, my father did not get those funny looking screens.

The television was in working condition till the time it was finally donated. Yes, we did have occasional visits from people who had to fix it but nothing serious ever happened to that television. That old television of ours stayed with us for a long period. It travelled with us whenever my father was transferred for work. We took care of it and loved it much more than any other television that we ever purchased. In those days, some people loved their television much more than we did. They even had a wooden box with doors and legs to house their television. Funny thing is, there were even provisions of locking those doors. While much of the world probably had coloured television by then, we in third-world India were probably good enough with one channel, less colour, no remote and few television programs.

I am sure people who have seen big radios will share my love for our old television. That is why, I am sad when I heard that the only “old-fashioned” television left in the family from the age-old days is getting replaced.


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