Posted by: Neeraj | August 29, 2009

Once ubiquitous!

The last century could be termed as the most exciting in terms of the development that had happened throughout the world, the most prominent ones being the aero plane (which killed distances), the telephone (which brought people together), the television (which brought entertainment to our homes), the computer (which propelled innovation), the internet (which connected not only computers but ideas worldwide) and the mobile phone (which revolutionised not only communication but poor people’s lives).

But this piece is not on what we were able to achieve through persistence, innovation and genius but how those achievements have almost furtively changed the way we live our lives, directly or indirectly and made some things which were an important part of our childhood disappear from our lives, namely:

The tin school bag: A symbol of my first introduction to school which I carried with so much pride. It made me love the sunshine which bounced off its shiny surface and squinted my eyes.

The black and white TV and Doordarshan: An important part of my early days, both have become extinct for me as a species. Once upon a time they were my only means of entertainment when I came back home after playing. The solid state picture tube which took an eternity to pop the picture up (the process was called warming up) and the staple diet of one film and one song program per week are both a part of my familylore.

The Kulfiwallah:  The loud resonant voice which announced the arrival of the kulfiwallah and made me run out of the house bare-feet with a twenty five paisa coin (extinct too) for a small kulfi died more than ten years ago. Now he can be sporadically found, in a renewed slightly corporatized avatar in the mall (a promotion or a demotion?).

The landline phone/The STD Booth: Both are dying very fast.  I use the landline phone only for answering unsolicited calls aimed at selling me a product I do not want to buy. I fear the worst and feel it will lose even the ornamental value that it carries in our house once the baton of running the house passes to the next generation.

The other endangered species on the verge of extinction are:

– The writing pad
– The wrist watch /the alarm clock
– The CRT monitor 
– The pen
– The playground

The sad part is that all of them made had a role to play in what I am today and I have stopped missing them already, not even caring to remember them on their anniversaries – the day when they entered my life.

* There would be many more things which could figure in this list but I put the only ones that I can recall easily. See, I suffer a memory loss even when I try to remember the other things that were at one time so very important for me.


  1. wow! I never thought like this.

  2. Tin school bag? I never knew there was a thing like that. My father used to tell me about the slate which they had to clean and leave to dry at night. I have used the black slates in school – not sure if they are there any more πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks Sheenam: Your first comment on my blog. Yes there was. It must have come after your father passed out of school. New innovation :). Slates were very popular, they are dead too.

    Thanks Jyoti for visiting.

  4. Tin Bag: Yes, I have also seen one during my schooling. Truly, this blog made me recall my school life once again. I don’t remember exactly the standard, may be 1st, but yes, one of my friend brings tin bag(made up of aluminum) with him.

    Thanks Neeraj sir for writing such a beautiful blog and reminding us our old days. πŸ™‚

  5. The tin bag! yeah i remember that. Although i never used it personally. I also remember slates. Dad’s army career made us travel to places which were very small and almost a generation behind most major cities in India. But this was mostly during my early school days as later my father felt the need to put me in better schools. So if the ‘better’ school was not available in the small town he was being posted to, then me and sis would stay back with our mother in a town closer to his which had the ‘better’ school. Also, later in his career most of his postings (luckily for us) were in major towns.

    Once again this is a great post and made me remember the good old school days.

  6. “The black and white TV and Doordarshan” with shutter which had a lock which my parents tried to lock which I always opened easily. “Parental Locks” never work, humans have tendency to break all the rules and laws. πŸ™‚
    Saw your book at chai wallah’s. Would love to read( but its thicker than five point some one and I didnt find any e-book :P)

  7. Thanks Anirudh, Chetan (first time right?) for visiting. Yes I forgot slates. I think I had used them. And the black and white TV with a shutter we definitely had. Anirudh you have been lucky with your schooling πŸ™‚

    Chetan: Just go ahead and pick it up. It’s a money back guaranteed book straight from the author. Just write to me if you are not able to finish it due to any reason and I will arrannge to take it back from you πŸ™‚

  8. Fully agree…but am sure they’ll be around for some more time

  9. Wonderful piece of writing! Made me go nostalgic for few moments, remembering those simple pleasures and the things to go with it …right from the tin school bag(we used to call it attachee!) to the doordarshan and of course the favourite kulfiwala. Well, I am an old fashioned guy and still love my pen, writing pad and to go along with it, the delicious kulfi from the kulfiwala(once in a while). I still prefer the playground to the playstations and xboxes…and what not. Also, you cannot replace the pleasure of reading a paperback with that of an e-book on Kindle! Everybody may not agree with me out here, but then…I wouldn’t want to become a mechanised animal!

  10. Dear Neeraj,

    hope you remember me. was working with Adani Exports from where you peple bought tea and coffee.

    yesterday, i finished the novel and was feeling very nostalgic. i am also going thr some turbulent time right now.

    well writen. keep good work going.

    jagdish Pant

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