Suhani yaden…. Tuning in radio memories

Today,  when I ask Alexa to play a song of my choice, she obliges readily. However, I can’t get over the charm of the old times, when I waited in anticipation for my favourite song to play on radio. There was an element of surprise in the playlist that added to the appeal. As the singers crooned, I hummed along and tapped my feet to the peppy numbers. Nothing but nostalgia! I remember dreamily my college days when I would lie down at night with a book in my hand and a transistor by my side playing old melodies on Vividh Bharti. These are Suhani yaden, the golden memories of soothing music that lulled me to sleep.

Going further down the memory lane, I remember a big Murphy radio, as big as an old time television occupying a place of pride in our drawing room. That was the time when we had, one and only one, All India Radio to depend upon for all the news and entertainment broadcast, albeit Radio Cylone for its highly popular ‘Binaca Geet Mala’ by Ameen Sayani. My father would never miss news, especially the 8 O’ clock morning English bulletin that we, as children, were least interested in. However, the iconic lines, ‘This is All India Radio. The news is read by…’ are etched in my memory and the sonorous voice of legendary news readers like Melville de Mellow and Surajit Sen still echoes in my ears.

Program preferences in the family differed. However, there was one program that the entire family enjoyed together, a half-hour skit ‘Hawa Mahal’ aired at night that coincided with our dinner time. My personal favorite in my teen years was ‘Sound Track’, an hour-long program based on a film story. Much to the annoyance of my father, every Sunday, with my ears glued to the radio, I would listen to the film story at a volume so low that no one else could hear.

Radio taught us to see through our ears. Without visuals, with just the commentary we could visualize every scene, be it the Republic Day parade, a cricket or a hockey match. In those days listening to radio commentary was equivalent to watching a match live. Absolutely magical was cricket commentary, giving explicit details of the action on the ground. Every ball, every hit, every catch created a ripple of excitement as we listened to the running commentary with rapt attention, sitting around the radio.

With the arrival of transistors in the early 70s, radio became mobile. Transistor, the portable radio run on battery became our constant companion to give us company everywhere, including study time when songs played in the background. As the transistors became more and more compact, we started carrying these around in our pockets. I can’t forget how we would discreetly smuggle pocket-size transistors to the classrooms to have a sneak peek at the score and wickets. Most remarkable is my memory of a fire-brand friend of mine banging her transistor when India lost a test match against Pakistan in the last over.

With the advent of television, radio may have lost its prime place in my life but continues to occupy a special place in my heart. Even today, my mornings begin with the radio alarm playing bhajans. While on a drive, I like to tune in the radio; though most of the times, I fail to trace Vividh bhatri in the FM jungle. Constant chatter of RJs and flurry of new songs with jarring music, at times, gets on my nerves. My heart still beats for the old melodies on radio.

Pure Nostalgia!!!

(Published in Woman’s era October 2023 issue)




16 Replies to “Suhani yaden…. Tuning in radio memories”

  1. Rama dear, you have created such a beautiful pageant of nostalgic memories of Vividh bharti,suhani sham,,
    Amin sayani, ..Hawa mahal.I am sure each one of us can relate to them so well…Thoroughly enjoyed …

    1. I am soooo happy that you enjoyed the piece.Thank you so much dear Mrs Dhawan for all your kind words..A big morale booster for me.

  2. Yes Rama,Binaca geet mala,Urdu Service,Aapki fermaish,Akhire Shab,your Article has reminded me of so many favourite programs. I was lucky to prsent meri pasand program many times on AIR Jalandhar and got golden chance of playing my favorite songs in these programs. I still remember the days when I use to switch on my radio before switching on light and fan of my room. Thanks for bringing those golden memories back in your extremely well worded Article. Proud of you my dear ❤️

    1. Neelam , what a delight to read comment from my dear super-talented friend ! Thank you so much .
      Have you identified my close friend mentioned in the article who banged her transistor ?
      Great that you had been hosting ‘Meri pasand’ on All India Radio Jalandhar. Wish we could hear the recording.

  3. Rama, AIR Urdu Service, was my most favorite tansistor borne radio channel if I may call it now. I was in 8th class ofcourse with you only ,one fine afternoon the 3.30 PM Filmi geeton kaa program, the program conducting female voice said ” Mein hoon Afreen Jafri”. The name was so appealing that I decided then that if I am blessed with a baby girl when I grow up I will name her “Afreen “. AIR urdu serviceand Bush radio my elder daughter’s name is ” Afreen Shameer”. Shameer is her mother’s name.

    1. Wow ! yadon ka pitara khul raha hai …yes, connected with radio programs are so many of our khatti-meethi yaden…

  4. Rama dear your narrative is sound and real enough to transport us to the world of past . We have lived those days under the spell of this wonder of technology called radio…. All the programmes you have mentioned have been part of our growing up years…so relatable. The charm of your chosen subject and the choice of words are unmatched. Keep writing…

  5. Madam,I also enjoyed this article.When I was a child ,a big radio used as a decoration piece in drawing room at many homes and considered as status symbol. But when I was in teens, radio was replaced by television in drawing rooms.Many articles of yours are reflections if the changing time.Nostalgic!

    1. Thanks Garima for reading and appreciating. Glad you could relate to those bhuli-bisri yaden… The earliest is to do with a big radio in the drawing room which was replaced by a black-white television in 70s.

  6. Proud of you Rama dear. You always have wonderful memories which make us nostalgic about our childhood and youth. We enjoyed every achievement and facilities in our life. We are thankful to Almighty God for all His blessings in our life. Keep writing so good articles which make us feel happy.

    1. Yes Neelam, God has been very kind to us . We had good times . No wonder, we have wonderful memories of the past that we recall with nostalgia.
      Thanks dear for reading my articles with interest and encouraging me.

  7. This piece’s storyline instantly takes me back in time, and I can totally relate to it. In our living room, a Murphy radio held a prominent place, and I can envision my father taking in the news and cricket commentary.
    One of my all-time favorites was the request program that the Ceylon broadcasting service ran each morning.
    Such was life in those days.

    1. I am absolutely delighted to get your feedback. Glad the piece resonated with you reviving your childhood memories.

  8. Radio is an emotion. And very glad to know that you got your articles published on Womens Era too. I also had a couple of articles published by them. 👍👍I like the way you wrote this article describing transition of radio to transistor and now a MOBILE

    1. Atish, I am glad to know that your articles have been published in Woman’s era . Hope you will post these in your blog.

      Thanks for reading and appreciating the post .

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