Not so long ago we still had a working,although sparingly so,black and white TV set at home.It was a working antique piece and like all antique pieces it was plain hideous.Many times I had tried to find out the exact era when it's association with us started,but I had to be disappointed with an answer like 'Must have been one of the after-marriage-home-accessory gifts ' from my mom.The brand was Weston,which probably had monopolised the b/w TV market,sadly it monopolises the garbage dumps these days.How times change!
Those were the best of times though.It was a part of our family,and the most active part.The earliest I can think of is having watched a Republic Day parade and feeling good about it.I must have been 4 then.Better still,there was only one channel those days to focus attention on,dear old DD,and back then the programs were such that only a 4 year mind could appreciate them.It also acted as a social tool.Many people around us were not blessed with the luxury at that time and the popular programs and movies and occasional cricket matches were too good to be watched alone.So it ensured a public gathering,a TV party if you are page3 sort.
Sadly things started to change after 1991.The Gulf War happened and cable TV led by CNN started changing equations.The final blow was probably the 1992 cricket world cup when people started to realise that they need to be able to differentiate between a test and an ODI match.And they need to differentiate between blood and tar.Colour TV's were the new after-marriage-home-accessories now and people were saving money to buy one.Our friend faced no such problems,for we believed that we couldn't discard a family member,not until it had lived it's whole life.
Life was difficult without cable TV those days.I spent more time hopping onto the roof and twisting the antenna in every angle possible than actually watching that thing.All in the hope that due to some constructive interference of these waves a channel other than DD might show up.The scantily few times that happened we watched a bored looking newscaster reading something we could not hear or criss cross lines accompanied by UFO like sounds which left a lot to imagination.When World Cup '96 came,we decided we could not ruin our cricket watching experience by trusting DD and so in came cable TV.
It was the first time the old machine was truly tested.I wanted to watch highlights of the day's play while my mom wanted some song of her era.So the very fragile channel rotation gadget was twisted to and fro so hard and fast that given a chance the TV would have broken down into tears.That never happened because the channel thingie broke down.I assumed great notoriety in this regard as having broken down many a 'tuners';as they called it.But,like all great minds,I had an alternative.I used pliers to rotate the protruding part once the tuner broke down,something only I could risk doing.It had downsides too,like getting electrocuted a zillion times,but the upsides of watching so many channels more than compensated for that.
The TV was getting old and couldn't take all this manhandling.It started breaking down.The exterior gave way first.The body made of ply was delicious abode for the termites who virtually ate that thing away.Everything-the front sliding door,the plywood back cover and the designer wood carvings.So we were left with a TV with a broken door and a rather airy hindside with a visible picture tube.The interior machinery soon followed suit.The first few times we had the regular mechanic come in,mend and take the fees.Later,he decided to have a monthly account and collect all the fees for his regular visits at the end of the month.Basically a permanent employee.
Standing beside him as he worked away,I learnt a few tricks myself.Like when the entire screen showed just a single luminous white line,I knew which component to tweak.And when the TV suddenly stopped with a puff of smoke from the hindside,I immediately changed the fuse.When the picture shrinked and people looked like pigs I knew what was wrong.It was like a non paid internship for me.After having his patience tested time and again,the mechanic pleaded with us to change the set.As long as we were happy paying him,we din't see what the problem was.He threatened to stop coming although of course he never did.Our beloved TV had more time being worked upon than working itself.By then though ,it was too much of a sentimental attachment to let go.
Then suddenly one day it stopped working.No warnings nothing,it just went kapoot.I tried all my expertise.When I failed the mechanic tried his best.With a rather relieved look to his face he said ,'It's dead,time to get a new one'.We didn't believe him,we called someone else,hoping against hope that he was better qualified to bring it back.He saw our friend and wondered how it had managed to function so long.We were too shocked to buy a new set so soon.It was a part of our memories,a hero of our tales,a friend in times of distress.We discussed all the good times it had given us and all the bad times we had given it.We were overwhelmed by this sudden demise.
Then a new cricket series started and we couldn't do without buying a new TV.It's still there and we can only hope it serves as long as it's predecessor.