Nostalgia 3.

The last post on Nostalgia that I wrote was in September last year. I find it strange that there have not been other triggers that could have led me to write other posts since then.

Be that as it may, there is another trigger which brings back so many memories that I have been revisiting many incidents that I had experienced those days.

A Facebook post showed this image with the question “Do you remember?”

I had responded with “As a travelling salesman in the sixties of the last century, the holdall was an absolute necessity. I slept in trains, waiting rooms and once even in a police station with the permission of the inspector because I missed the last bus. The suitcase with the khaki cover shown below too was part of all regular travellers as the cover protected the expensive suitcase.”

The holdall shown above was a long canvass bag with a pouch at each end. One first placed a covered in cotton cover mattress like this in it.
This mattress was tucked into the pouches at both end and then, one end was filled with a pillow while the other was with a bed sheet and/or a blanket. It was then folded over from each end and then folded over once again in the middle, and fastened with buckles and straps on the top.

The holdall contained other pockets to keep other things like clothing or books or whatever and had a handle to carry it with ease.  The pouches on both ends inside were also used to store clothes and other materials below the pillow and the sheet/blanket.

The khaki cloth covered suitcase at the bottom was another familiar sight among regular travellers as, the suitcases were either made with pure or imitation leather and were very expensive. All luggage stores those days had either an in-house tailor or one close by who made the covers on the spot after one bought a suitcase. Believe me, these suitcases were covered because they were expensive and had to be protected to last long.

A tour normally would be of three weeks duration, sometimes taking a few days more on emergency calls.  We depended on the Indian Postal Service for Care-Of-Post Master mails and to receive and send money and mail.  We carried Postal Identity Cards without which we could not use those facilities.  We also had to strictly adhere to the pre-drawn itinerary so that mail could be collected.  One did not use the telephone those days unless in emergencies as calls were expensive.

Almost all the travellers of those days that I knew had the habit of reading and all major Railway Stations had book stalls that sold books and magazines besides daily newspapers.  That and where one could, seeing movies in the local theatres were the only ways to fight loneliness.

In retrospect, when I now compare today’s travellers to those of then, I can’t but wonder how we and I particularly survived those adventures sleeping where we could, using laundry facilities where we could and eating food in all kinds of outlets.

Have you ever used or come across such holdalls and covered suitcases?

Why I Blog?

Mitch at I’m Just Sharing has reposted a 2014 blog post which took me back to TGOD. I reproduce below exchange of my comments and Mitch’s response.

Me: “So, which of the three categories will my blog fit in? Since I have not given serious thought as to why I write, that will help me decide.”

Mitch: “Actually Rummuser, you condescend to yourself but inside I think you know why you write. You write to get things off your chest; you write to share your life and thoughts with others; and you write for the kinship you get from folks like your Friday tagalong group (okay, I never remember off the cuff what y’all call yourselves lol). You have a unique storytelling style that seems to get people talking; you get way more comments per post than I do. And of course early on you told people this: “Tension nahin lenekka!” You did this during a tense part of your life, which you shared as well. As I say, I think you knew all this; I think it’s a cultural thing that you’re fairly self deprecating when you have no need to be. 🙂”

Me: “Wow! Mitch, that is a mouthful to get off your chest! Thanks. You have just made this wet rainy day over here feel like a million Rupees.”

Which led me to study my blog and I have come up with some interesting statistics.

The first post I wrote in this format was on the 8th of June, 2008.
I have written 3327 posts including this one since then.
There have been a total of 28082 comments and responses from me.

Wow! I am unashamedly impressed with my performance!  Do you think that I am being immodest?

Food Again! Moong Dal Pakode.

This image is doing the WhatsApp rounds over here with the caption “Mumbai variant called Pakodacron has arrived.”
This is a spoof on the Covid Epsilon Variant as shown below.

I thought that the pakodacron was quite creative and funny. I also went down memory lane to my Mumbai days when near the shops of my main dealers, a snack bar on the platform of a suburban railway station called Masjid specialised in freshly made hot Moong Dal Pakode. This used to be sent for to accompany cups of hot chai during discussions.
The treat was not served like the image above in nice  dishes but came wrapped in old newspapers and were accompanied by green chillies dipped in lime juice and coated with salt.

Remembering this old treat I have decided to get them made at home tomorrow just to go on a nostalgia trip.

Does the pandemic situation give raise to such developments for you too?

I Am So Old.

I received this as a WhatsApp message and I immediately went all nostalgic.

Telephone.:
My earliest telephone was this:
I wonder if the generation that started with dial up phones even knew of this!

The next phone that I used was one were you lifted the handset off the base and waited for an operator to respond to connect you to another party within that telephone exchange’s area.
Or, for long distance calls called trunk calls those days, you went to the local Post Office to book one of the following. Ordinary, Urgent or Lightening with escalating charges for each. The dial less phone set would usually be in a cabin and one waited till the clerk signalled you to go there to talk.
Or, one used this:
The most frustrating part of this was when the time ran out and you did not have more coins to feed the beast.

By this time, that is around the mid nineties of the last century, one could get telephone connections fairly easily but, long distance dial up calls were mostly not subssribed to, as neighbours would otherwise pester one. One had to book a call and wait for the exchange to connect you to the called party.

Then came these:
PCOs or, Public Call Offices changed telephony in India by the late eighties. One could go to these booths and make International Subsriberer Dialling and / or Subscriber Trunk Dialling (ISD< STD)
Finally came the cell phones in mid nineties, and since then, the landscape is unrecognizable.

Radio:
My first exposure to a radio was this:
One was forced to listen to what Akashvani dished out with the exception of Radio Ceylon’s Binaca Geetmala. This was a luxury and this was replaced by a radiogram which had a radio and a record player built into it.
Then we moved on in succession to transistor radio, record player and walkman till the mobile phone made all these redundant.


Television:
The fist TV set that I bought was a Konarak Black & White as India did not have colour television till the eighties.
I then moved on to Colour TV and by 1983 had to invest in a VCR!
We would borrow Video Cassettes from libraries to watch movies which in those days was a great convenience.

Today, all those gadgets have disappeared and we use computers and cable television for our entertainment at home. For music, the choice that is available within mobile telephones is simply mind blowing.

Camera.:
The earliest camera that I remember seeing was my father’s Rolliflex.
When I was thirteen, I was gifted with this:

Unicode

Both used Black & White roll films which after shooting, had to be taken to a studio to be developed and printed. Colour films came much later and those became redundant with the arrival of digital cameras{
You couldn’t take selfies with any of them!  Those too now are redundant with mobile phones offering excellent built in camera facilities.

What a journey it has been!

Memory Trigger – Caravelle.

Very often just a word can trigger off some long forgotten memory and bring back vivid images to one’s mind. At least this happens to me often and that is exactly what happened this morning when a friend recalled something from his past.

Before proceeding, my friend is a retired Indian Air Force Officer and is around my age.

He was relating a story to me about security arrangements in the IAF stations when he recalled a civilian aircraft landing in the IAF station where he was posted then. He mentioned that it was a Caravelle of the Indian Airlines and that immediately triggered off a vivid memory. I waited for him to finish of his narrative and explained to him my recollection and he too was amazed that a single word brought so much back to me.

It was July 1971, yes, fifty years ago, when my fifteen day old son flew an Indian Airlines Caravelle flight from Hyderabad to Bombay as it was then called. He was coming to his parental home from his mother’s maternal one and was being carried by his mother in her arms.

Airports then did not have all the rigmaroles that we have now.  My parents and I were waiting for his arrival at the arrival lounge from where we could see the tarmac where the flight offloaded passengers.

The tension was palpable as passengers started disembarking from the front door.  The last one got off and the ground crew started to go up the steps to clean etc and still no sign of my wife and my son.  The three of us started to worry.  There were no mobile phones those days to get in touch instantly with the person presumed to have missed the flight.  We then saw a sight that is still etched deeply into my consciousness.

My wife was the last to disembark and the memory that I cannot forget is her coming down the steps from the rear of the aircraft, taking a bundle from an air hostess who was escorting her, and walking slowly with the precious little bundle in her arms all the way from the aircraft to the arrival lounge.   The precious bundle swiftly changed hands. I was present at his arrival in Hyderabad so, he was no novelty to me but, to my parents, their first grandchild was, and I can still recollect the happy noises and cooing from them there in the airport lounge.

The most unforgettable aspect of that entire episode was the disembarking from the rear as is shown in the image below, alas not of the Indian Airlines Caravelle. I had flown Caravelles before and had never used the rear exit and did not even know that there was one.   Seeing this was a surprise to me.  You will see from the image above that there was only one door for the Indian Airlines aircraft.  My wife then explained that since she was carrying an infant in her hands, the Captain had arranged for this as a special case.

Other than Military aircrafts, I don’t think that this access is in existence anymore in Civilian Aircrafts. I had never used one ever despite having flown countless number of times all over the world. Have you?

Do You Remember?

A friend from childhood who has followed my career throughout my life sent me this image on Whatsapp and asked me “Do you remember?”
These were called sutar buttons, Sutar being Gujarathi for yarn. On researching for these for writing this post, I came across and interesting post about how to crochet these buttons. Difficult now to imagine, how much effort must have gone into making these buttons in large volumes.

That one question and that image took me down memory lane to the proverbial three score and ten years ago when as a student in Class IV wearing an all white uniform daily to school. The top and bottom both had buttons like these and we had to ensure that we had all the buttons intact as we were subject to inspections by the class teacher.

I was living with my Uncle and Aunt for that one year and every time one button came off, it was a chore reattaching it and often one had to find a new one which would be slightly of a different colour than the other buttons. My Aunt would patiently teach me to sew the button on and would closely supervise the effort.

Then came plastic buttons and the game changed for ever. Much easier to sew on and also longer lasting.

I spent almost a quarter century in the Tailor Trimmer trade and during all those years, never came across these buttons anywhere but, a quarter century later, I come across these. Simply mind blowing what?