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Once there was a TV set

It seems that the rising-by-the-day Indian middle-class will switch to liquid crystal display and plasma TVs, writes Amit Baruah.
Hindustan Times | By Amit Baruah
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2008 10:21 AM IST

It was a Sony. But it’s no longer a Sony. On Monday, the Japanese giant announced in Tokyo that it was ending the manufacture of all “traditional-style cathode ray tube televisions” by March-end. To me, the announcement was the end of an era, given that ‘traditional’ Sony TV sets have been part and parcel of Indian middle-class homes for ever. But now, it seems that the rising-by-the-day Indian middle-class will switch to liquid crystal display and plasma TVs.

My mind raced back to when I saw a TV set for the first time. After arriving in Delhi from Guwahati (Gauhati then) in 1970, I saw television for the first time. Not at home in M-32 Netaji Nagar, but through the barred windows of a neighbour’s flat. And it wasn’t just me watching Chitrahar every Wednesday or snatches of the Sunday night film, but there was a gaggle of neighbourhood kids.

In 1978, when my naani was very ill, my father, who worked at the All India Radio for 38 years, decided to buy a TV set. But Sony or no Sony, the radio man had reservations about TV. “Anyone can enter your house. You have no control over them,” was a favourite remark.

If I was seeing the single-channel world in black-and-white, my wife-to-be Minu’s family was doing better. When the government allowed the import of colour TV sets for the 1982 Asiad, their Jangpura house was the proud owner of a Sony colour Trinitron. (I’m reliably told that they got more visitors post-Trinitron).

I am, of course, still behind the times as far as TVs go. Recently, when I left Delhi and moved to Gurgaon, getting Tata Sky was an Absolute Priority. “You want the connection in that TV?” the technician said, shaking his head and looking at the basic, box television set in my house.

“Nobody has such TVs in Gurgaon. I’ve just installed 17 connections at a leading chappal maker’s house... Including in his bathrooms. And now I have to do this,” he said, his incredulous look lingering. As usual, I had nothing to say. Later, my response came to me: The dabba is colour, multi-channel and (mostly) works at the press of a remote button. If the remote totally fails, I’m going for a long danda. Not Sarojini Nagar for another remote control. I’m traditional.

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