Wednesday, 2 May 2007

End of Chaupals & your first TV set: Weston, Crown or EC?


Which was your first Television set? Chances are that most of you would remember that, especially if you were born before the 80s when TV was rare in Indian households.

Those were the days when Baithaks and Chaupaals were still alive. The old and young would sit in the evening for the leisurely chat. But the idiot box was to change all that in no time.

My first TV came as late as 1984. Indira Gandhi had just died and the whole nation was watching her last rites. Young Rajeev Gandhi was about to take over the reins of the country and Amitabh Bachchan lit the funeral pyre with him.

It was an orange coloured portable Texla TV. Unlike most television sets that were rectangular, it was squarish and the strange look caught my fancy. The Indian Express ad priced it at Rs 1349 (inclusive of all taxes) but it cost us Rs 1750 (the consumer was not the King back in early 80s).

As a kid I had seen TV in Delhi in an exhibition in 1978. The same year a TV set was bought in my maternal grandfather's house. It was a Huge TV by any standards. The company was EC, the most popular one, which had its advertisements on the last page of most magazines including Nandan and Indrajal Comics, then.

It was so heavy that four persons used to lift it. The cabinet was made of beautiful wood and the doors had a lion-shaped lock. It's tale had to be pulled and pushed into its mouth to unlock. On every Sunday, the entire locality would gather in the house and the TV would be brought in the compound.

The film would start at 6:30 pm but crowd would gather much before 5 pm and even after the film ended, they would not leave until my grandfather would start getting angry. I spent my summer holidays in my grandfather's house in the small town. And on return would boast about the huge TV in front of my friends, who were yet to see it.

But Asiad 1982 changed everything. Appu, the elephant, became a darling and the most recognisable mascot. The new stadiums came up in Delhi and India was all of a sudden changing from a poor nation to a happening country. The biggest jolt came to me when a neighbour who had a large family with five kids and who worked as lab assistant, bought a TV in the building.

It took another couple of years, the 1983 world cup, in between, before we could own a TV set. The orange small TV was a darling of everybody in the house. There were strict rules on who will turn on TV and that it should be handled with care.

Once when the mechanic came to fix a problem, he was treated as a VIP, as if any disrespect might turn him off and he may put off the work for the next morning, depriving us of the sight of the serial, Ados Pados (it came on Thursday). Each and every small detail about the set and the number of times it needed repair is still fresh in my mind.

In a year or so the world changed around us. TVs came in all the neighbouring houses. The names of the few companies which I remember are:

Crown EC TV Weston Keltron Televista
Dyanora Uptron Bush Konark Solidaire
BPL Beltek Videocon Texla Onida Binatone

The Onida was special with the Satan's ad about neighbour's envy, owner's pride. The jingle for Crown was 'Crown is the World Class TV....' I think most of the companies shut shop and after the end of black and white TV era, failed to upgrade. Except BPL, Videocon and Onida.

After that Orange coloured TV set, we bought many more sets but we don't remember either the year we bought them or the shop they were taken from, let alone other minor details. Plasma, Flat, 3D TVs will come and go but neither the era will come back nor any 'buddhu baksa' will give the joy of watching even the Krishi Darshan on those black and white TV sets.

(Photos: TV dealt a fatal blow to Chowpals, an old black and white TV set, the mascot and logo of Asian Games 1982)

Nostalgia Zindabad!

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