On my first posting to a field area in Arunachal Pradesh, after commissioning from Indian Military Academy (IMA), I purchased a small and compact radio set following the advice by my father. This advice was profoundly rooted in his own experiences as an army officer. He knew well as to what a radio set meant for a soldier in pursuit of his professional duties at the loneliest of places and situations, miles away from own family.
The word ‘RADIO’ reminds me of a journey of a change, which I witnessed during the next forty years. It, as a bench mark, encompasses cruise of transformation which came through in subsequent years. This change has been very discreet, steady and silent. Those were the days when speaking to one’s own family over telephone was unthinkable. Television sets existed in realm of dreams. Kerosene lamps provided for light in the absence of electricity. This setting provided abundant opportunity for radio to flourish. This priced possession of a soldier always found a special place in his black box. Listening to news on radio made one feel integrated with the outside world. Frequency modulations warranted complete focus and attention.
For a soldier, most of the entertainment revolved around the radio set. A cup of tea in the morning gave enough energy boost to connect with this most prized possession. It made its presence felt prominently through evergreen old songs. Melodious voices threaded deep meaning which were ideal remedies against stress. Being compact and small in size, carrying it to a place of choice was easy and convenient. Cricket lovers loved to hold it close to their ears to understand the pulse of the game. High frequency modulations made it more essential to be kept in that position.
Army canteens would find themselves well stocked with the item. While planning subsequent monthly procurement, this item would always find itself on high priority. Brand of Philips was popular and easily available throughout all army canteens. One extra set of battery cells guaranteed uninterrupted connectivity for next many months.
Its chirping voice in the morning made the ritual of getting ready for office fun, and set the discourse for the whole day on a happy note. Its versatility came through a variety of songs and lively voice of a moderator. Even English songs were not beyond its domain. Tracks like ‘Funky Town’, which I continue to remember very fondly was broadcast almost on a daily basis. Simply because of the voice of the moderator, I had put this medium of entertainment on a high pedestal. The voice spoke to entire India. I felt it spoke to me and was only for my audience, like a friend onto friend. Unpredictability on the next song which was on the way added to its versatility manifold. A surprise gift!
Its presence was unmatched because of its simplicity and affordability. It loved to touch life of one and all, without discrimination. This quality made it stand tall and spoke of its secular all-inclusive credentials.
This journey of full entertainment through FM radio in cars continue even today. It makes a mundane journey very engaging and full of fun. I thank Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi for making the difference in my life. Friends, he is the man who had invented radio.