This Republic Day, we take a look at the iconic objects that collectively defined the Indian experience over the past 68 years. From things that brought the world to our living rooms to tasty treats, take a nostalgic journey down memory lane!
Members of the Joshi family would gather around their prized possession at 7 every evening. The main door of the house was open–it wouldn’t be long before the neighbouring kids, their parents and maybe even grandparents joined the regular party.
A beautifully knit blue-green cover protects the wooden radio box which is only taken off when the radio is switched on and tuned in. One member of the family reaches the top shelf to pull out the long antenna of the radio and turns the two knobs till the radio frequency sets perfectly.
In the 1960s and 70s, when the television was still a rich man’s luxury, it was Murphy Radio that brought people together.
Although the radio set was a device even the upper-middle-class boasted on owning, it was still more accessible and affordable than the TV.
The Murphy Radio was founded by Frank Murphy and E J Power in 1929. The radio company had manufactured sets for the British Armed Forces to use during the Second World War, but they aimed to make radio sets “a homely gadget”, one that did not need military expertise to operate.
In a 1931 advertisement, Murphy had said, “Your wireless set should not be a “gadget” which only “Father” can work. It should be something which can be used and enjoyed by everybody in the family. That is why, I made it my business to see that all Murphy sets are extremely simple to use, cheap to maintain and always reliable. The constant high standard of reproduction is an outstanding feature of all Murphy sets.”
Although the founder left his company in 1937 to establish another called the Frank Murphy Radio or FM Radio, the name ‘Murphy’ stayed.
This brand debuted in Indian households in 1948–just a year after we got independence and even before we became a republic!
Immediately, it became a popular source of news and entertainment.
Jyoti Sohini, a 70-year-old homemaker from Pune, fondly recollects the ‘Murphy days’. “It was a very popular brand in those days. The Murphy Baby calendar especially was very famous. The radio set was a common possession where I lived, but even then, there would be a huge crowd at our place, eager to listen to the cricket commentary,” she tells The Better India.
Adding to the programmes that they listened to in that era, Jyoti says Radio Ceylon, Binaca Geetmala, Vividh Bharati and Pune Kendra (a local news bulletin) were popular.
Much like this family in Pune, India fell in love with the brand and its adorable mascot–the Murphy baby or Murphy Munna. Print ads featured the chubby-cheeked Rinpoche, looking inquisitively, with a finger placed near his lip, instantly garnering the adoration of Indian families.
The three-year-old Kagyur Tulku Rinpoche fascinated many mothers or expectant mothers of that era. For millennials like me, the perfect reference point is Anurag Basu’s 2012 film, Barfi, where Ranbir Kapoor’s reel life mother names him after the Murphy because “Murphy Munna jaisa lalla, Amma ka tha sapna” (Mother wanted a baby just like the Murphy’s).
Speaking to the Hindustan Times about this shot to fame, Rinpoche said, “I was three years old and used to reside in Manali. Everyone in Manali knew about the ad.
The makers wanted me in the ad, as the original Murphy baby who was a girl, had died. They were looking for someone identical.”
Rinpoche went on to become a monk for about 20 years before marrying Mandakini, an actress. But that is a story for another time.
Much like Rinpoche, Mohammed Rafi composed a tagline jingle for the brand to attract more customers.
“Murphy ghar ghar ki rounak, tarah tarah ke Murphy radio, la deten hain ghar mein jaan (Murphy is the pride of homes, different kinds of Murphys bring life to the home),” played as an advertisement while superstars like Sharmila Tagore, featured in print ads.
68-year-old Kamlesh Chawla speaks to The Print about his childhood when he threw a tantrum to get a Murphy Radio after the Sharmila Tagore ad.
Catchy phrases that spoke of the Murphy Radio as something that “delights the home” and “sets the standard” added to the aspirational sentiment.
Kamlesh says, “I used to be a calm child. But I can only recall one instance where I had cried for many days insisting [that] my father buy a radio. He bought the radio set on Diwali. I still have a memory of placing the radio right next to the black-and-white Keltron TV set in our sitting room.”
Writing for the Caleidoscope, Levine Lawrence says, “Those were the glory days of BBC, Voice of America, Radio Moscow and our own All India Radio. Vividh Bharati, the colourful movie songs and trivia programme was transmitted by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation due to a ban on film songs on Akashvani!”
Eventually, the radio gave way for black-and-white TV, which in turn, was replaced by the colour TV and now, the Internet.
Even as we surf the web to find such fascinating stories about the times and technologies of the past, the simplicity of the radio and the magnificent events it covered–right from Nehru declaring India’s independence in the speech that still gives us goosebumps to the wars that India fought later–can hardly be replaced.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
Source……Tanvi Patel in http://www.the better india.com
The Peekskill meteorite car sitting at a collector’s garage in Peekskill. Photo credit: Ryan Thompson/Flickr
On October 9, 1992, a brilliant fireball flashed across the evening sky over eastern United States startling thousands of spectators attending the weekly high school football matches being played across the East Coast. The fireball, that witnesses described as being brighter than the full moon, was travelling almost horizontally and heading northeast. In just forty seconds, the meteorite had crossed four states travelling 700 kilometers through the atmosphere. The intense heat and friction broke the space rock into more than 70 pieces, several of which were large and fast enough to produce their own glowing trails. A considerably weighty chunk of the meteorite, about the size of a bowling ball, eventually touched ground at Peekskill, New York, with a loud boom.
17-year-old high-school student Michelle Knapp was watching television in her parents’ living room when she heard a thunderous crash outside. Knapp ran outside to investigate the noise. There she found, standing on the driveway, her 1980 Chevy Malibu. The Malibu’s trunk was twisted and battered with a hole through it. A sizeable rock over 12 kilograms in weight lay under the car, embedded in the asphalt. It was still smoking and smelled of rotten eggs. The rock had narrowly missed the fuel tank.
Understandably, Michelle was not happy; she had recently bought the car for $400 and now it was totaled. Michelle did what anybody else would have done—she called the cops and reported an act of vandalism. It was a neighbor who reasoned that vandals can’t throw rocks through cars and surmised that the rock was from outer space. The suspicion proved correct when the very next day, a curator from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City confirmed that the object was indeed a meteorite, the same one that streaked across the northeastern sky distracting coaches and parents from their kid,s football games.
Michelle Knapp in the driveway with her Malibu taken only days after the historic impact. Photo credit: John Bortle
It was this impeccable timing of the Peekskill meteorite that made it one of the most witnessed and most recorded meteorite events in history. Dozens of spectators to the high school football games had brought camcorders with them, and when the meteorite flashed over their heads many of these cameras turned skywards, towards the brief but more exciting event. As many as 16 different observers from various locations recorded the event on tape—a record that was not broken until 2013 when a meteor exploded over Russia. The sixteen videos of the fireball taken from multiple perspectives made it possible for scientists to determine the exact trajectory of the meteorite. Indeed, Peekskill is one of the few meteorites whose orbit is precisely known.
As for the car, Michelle spent no time securing a deal with a renowned meteorite collector for an amount that was nearly two orders of magnitude more than what Michelle had paid. Since then, the car has been on display in numerous cities throughout the world, including Paris, Tokyo, Munich and more.
Source……Kaushik in http://www.amusing planet .com
At the turn of the last century, when aviation was still in its infancy, a German named Julius Neubronner submitted a patent for a new invention—a miniature camera that could be strapped to the breast of a pigeon so that the bird could take flight and snap pictures from the air.
Julius Neubronner was an apothecary who employed pigeons to deliver medications to a sanatorium located near his hometown Kronberg, near Frankfurt. An apothecary is one who makes medicines. A pharmacist is a more modern word, but in many German speaking countries, such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland, pharmacies are still called apothecaries.
Apothecary was Julius Neubronner’s family profession. His father was an apothecary, and so was his grandfather. In those days, homing pigeons were used extensively to carry messages and small supplies. It was Julius’s father’s idea to use pigeons to receive prescriptions from the sanatorium and send out medicinal supplies in a hurry—a practice that continued for more than half a century until the sanatorium closed.
One day, Neubronner let out a pigeon on an urgent errand but it didn’t return. When several days passed and there was still no sign of the bird, Neubronner assumed the pigeon was lost, or it got caught and killed by predators. A month later, the lost messenger showed up unexpectedly at Neubronner’s place. The bird appeared well fed, which got Neubronner into thinking. Where had he gone? Who had fed him?
Neubronner decided that he would start tracking his pigeons’ future travels.
Julius Neubronner with one of his pigeons.
Being a passionate do-it-yourself amateur photographer, it didn’t take long for Neubronner to fashion a miniature wooden camera which he fitted to the pigeon’s breast by means of a harness and an aluminum cuirass. A pneumatic system in the camera opened the shutter at predetermined intervals and the roll of film, which moved along with the shutter, took as many as thirty exposures in a single flight. The entire rig weighed no more than 75 grams—the maximum load the pigeons were trained to carry.
The pictures turned out so good that Neubronner started making different models. One system, for instance, was fitted with two lenses pointing in opposite directions. Another one took stereoscopic images. Eventually, Neubronner applied for a patent, but the patent office threw out his application citing that such a device was impossible as they believed a pigeon could not carry the weight of a camera. But when Neubronner presented photographs taken by his pigeons, the patent was granted in 1908.
Aerial photograph of Frankfurt.
Neubronner exhibited his photographs in several international photographic exhibition gaining him accolades. In one such exhibition in Dresden, spectators watched as the camera-equipped carrier pigeons arrived at the venue, and the photos were immediately developed and turned into postcards which they could purchase.
The technology was soon adapted for use during the First World War, despite the availability of surveillance aircraft then. Pigeons drew less attention, could photograph enemy locations from a lower height, and were visibly indifferent to explosions on a battlefield.
Neubronner’s avian technology saw use in the Second World War too. The German army developed a pigeon camera capable of taking 200 exposures per flight. The French too claimed they had cameras for pigeons and a method to deploy them behind enemy lines by trained dogs. Around this time, Swiss clockmaker Christian Adrian Michel perfected a panoramic camera and an improved mechanism to control the shutter. Pigeon photography was in use as late as the 1970s, when the CIA developed a battery-powered pigeon camera, though the details of the camera’s use are still classified.
Today, aerial photography has been replaced by aircrafts, satellites, and more recently, by affordable drones. But the legacy of Julius Neubronner’s pigeon photography lives on in these images which are among the very early photos taken of Earth from above.
Bonus fact: So what happened to Neubronner’s pigeon who stayed away from the owner for a month and returned fattened up? It had flown away to Wiesbaden, some twenty kilometers away, and was taken care of by a restaurant chef.
Source…..Kaushik in http://www.amusingplanet .com