Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Favourite Firsts

There is a first time for everything. Some firsts are life changing. Everybody experiences them and it's really surprising how often we forget them. I mean, we all remember our first day in college, but there are other equally important things we forget. Today I'm reviewing some of those firsts.

1. First Cell Phone
We all own cell phones these days, right? They're no longer simply devices you use to speak into and hear people from the other side. They're our clocks, our calculators, our radios, our mp3 players, our Internet, our everything! The funny thing is that not so long ago, cell phones were the 'new' thing. In my family, my father got the first phone. It was heavy and thick, a black model complete with an antennae, nothing like the sleek models available these days. All the text appeared in black on a dull yellow background. Despite how backward it seems now, it was enough to have people addicted back then. My sister used it all the time and even kept it next to her pillow at night, something she could never do with the landline. The funniest part was that much father knew nothing about putting the phone on 'vibrate'. Somehow the phone was on vibrate once when he was driving. It started trembling in his chest and he had no idea what was happening. He later joked that he thought either there was a bomb in his chest pocket or he was having a painless heart attack. Since then, everyone in my family has bought phones and there's no limit to how sleek these things could be. But I think we still have our first phone hidden away somewhere.

2. First Cable Television
Remember the time when we watched Doordarshan? There were just two channels to choose from, the second one slightly less boring than the first. Everyday, there was the same lady reading 'Samaachaar', the same weather forecasts. Then there was the weekly movie, the crowding in the living room to watch Ramayana and Shaktimaan. Plus there was no remote and you fads to get off the sofa to change the channel. Since I'm the youngest in my family, I mostly had the task of changing channels by pushing the red and silver buttons on the box-like TV. It was all good till the year 1999, the year of globalisation. Cable television invaded every home faster than anyone could ever have expected. In my home, we got cable in 2000. We still had our old black-and-white TV set and couldn't receive all the channels. For the first time, we had the option of watching movies whenever we wanted to. Before, I only got to watch Ducktales in the 5.00-6.00 p.m slot on Doordarshan reserved for children's entertainment. Now, there was Cartoon Network all day.

I don't know why but somehow, I think the shows in Doorsarshan were better than the ones we get now. Maybe the sets were bad and the sounds sucked, but they all had stories and more importantly, they had heart. Believe it or not, there was less kitchen politics one television twenty years back than there is now. But the real reason I miss good old Doordarshan is that there was real excitement in watching a movie because you didn't just get a movie whenever you wanted to. There were no repeat telecasts and TV had it's own stars like Arun Govil. In other words, there was a real magic in television and now it's just a box that keeps playing videos all the time.

3. First Color Television
We got our first color television in the year 2000, a few months after we got cable. My father wanted to watch and tape the Olympic Games in color and that's why we bought it. The sad part is that even though my father taped the games, the only winner from India that year was Maleshwari (weightlifting) and we didn't tape her performance. Also, all our tapes eventually got destroyed or lost. But the colour TV stayed. It was a second-hand BPL model and it lasted a total of 20 years.

4. First New Car
Ever since I was born, my family had a car. But then, in 2004 we got a new car and it seemed like a big deal at the time. We loved it so much that we refused to take the bubble wrap off the seats. We still have that car and somehow I still think of it as the new car.

We need to know the first time of things. More importantly we need to remember them. It's not just because we need to know how far we've come. It's because we need to know how much we've left behind and how far we've come.