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The period drama on the idiot box

Old Television on white. Includes Clipping Path.

Old Television on white. Includes Clipping Path.  

Television once brought together total strangers in a neighbourhood

In the mid-1960s, Doordarshan was the only television channel in India, with barely an hour of transmission a day. Our neighbour’s son brought a TV set from the U.S. some time then, creating excitement not only in his family but in the entire neighbourhood.

We had only heard of the box which when switched on would open up a whole new world.

The family sat around the sofa and watched very animatedly the black-and- white visuals. Next evening, five of us children mustered up the courage and rang their door bell.

When the man of the house opened the door, we rushed in without saying a word and made ourselves comfortable on their carpet. He was kind enough to smile despite the fact that we were intruding into their privacy. We sat watching till the end of the transmission. This then became our daily ritual. And what did we watch each day with such rapt attention — Krishi Darshan. We would watch experts conversing with farmers and villagers, explaining how to grow better and more crops. All through this, we would be glued to the screen in silence. It was the magic of the box.

In the following decades, TV was spreading its tentacles. I vividly remember a Sunday morning in 1987, returning to India after living abroad, we found the Delhi roads deserted when the Ramayana series was being telecast. Had never ever seen the idiot box grip people of all ages and classes.

Now, we have hundreds of channels at our fingertips. So much to chose from and yet we complain — nothing to watch while restlessly surfing channels.

With TV sets in every home, 24-hour transmission and Internet apps, some of us are glued to the screen. You rarely get a gentle knock at the door these days from your neighbour who wants to drop in and chat. I can’t help but yearn for those days when TV brought together total strangers in a neighbourhood rather than make strangers out of neighbours.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 12:56:52 PM |

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