Friday, February 3, 2012

In Rewind Mode

The day the music died….(To those from my time, it would be a song by Don McLean and for the younger generation maybe the lines would still be a familiar Madonna song)  

But that is how we felt for a long time after WorldSpace closed their operations in India.  It used to be a routine.  Early morning devotional music – Carnatic and Hindustani that slowly progressed to a faster beat for the exercise hour and then to Farishta for old Hindi songs. The day went by. 

And then there was no music at all.  We put away the satellite receiver.  Our 15 year old Sony music system was in a bad shape.  From disuse. For a while we managed with the music channels on TV and we were only listening to the latest Bollywood music.  An occasional good song, but constant Sheila and Munni can get so tiring.  V thought we had enough of it all and lugged the music system to the service center.  

It came back a fortnight ago with the FM radio, CD and audio-casette player in working condition. We found ourselves removing the carton that had not seen the light of day for almost three years. A box filled with memories.  Of age old audio-cassettes!! The thought of donating the tapes had occurred to me , but I had found no takers.  All had moved on to newer technology. The younger one asked me to check on Amazon.  You might just get lucky, she said.  Some ancient articles can bring in good money. But no such luck.  Everyone seemed to think they just had to be junked.  And so the carton remained.  Thank god for that!

After spending a whole day sorting them out, we have boxes (and more boxes) of songs - in all languages - English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu.  Classical music - western and Indian. Vocal and instrumental. And the tapes in good condition too.  With music to last a life time.

What was even better was the discovery of the tapes of my children reciting nursery rhymes, slokas and a whole lot of baby talk that their grandfather had recorded.  

And yet another surprise.  We had met MS Subbalakshmi when she was no longer giving public performances. No mobile phone cameras, no digital cameras to capture the moment.  But for this ...

And now I get up to the sound of music...and a cup of tea (yes, I am not the first one to awaken) . What could be better than that?


  1. I have tapes like these back home in India, boxes and boxes of it. I do not know if my father still has them or got rid of it. I blew away most of my pocket money buying music. Love old melodies..
    Its sad about WorldSpace. Farishta was good.
    What a surprise! truly an autograph to cherish forever. her voice is immortal.

  2. I thought I was reading about our home! I too have a huge box of audio cassettes with very melodious songs. But I play them sometimes, but not like before. Otherwise my vividh bharati is there for me.

    You met MS Subbulakshmi! Great! Her whole life was dedicated to music.

    Nowadays my son downloads good music and I listen to them via my laptop too. We don't get old Hindi songs in FM, here, right?

  3. The loss of world space was indeed a sad thing. I had got it for my folks for their anniversary. And they had protested loud and long at the 'waste of money'. But soon they got hooked on to it. And it was exactly as you have described it. And then when it went away, how they mourned the loss. Even now, some 3 years later, they still remember world space with fondness - as one would a family member!! And although they use CDs, they just don't get it and prefer the audio tapes.

  4. I have the same experience.After the surfeit of carnatic music from DVDs/CDs or through iTunes/iPad, I wished to hear the audio cassettes of the olden days and brought out the boombox.I have an assorted collection of Ariyakudi,MSS,MLV,
    Chembai,Musiri,Madurai Somu,Maharajapuram,Jesudas,TNRP,
    Mali,MDR,Ramnad,Mani Krishnaswamy and even old MKT.When I was listening happily, the tape got stuck once.When my daughter tried to wriggle it out,the part came along with the broken tape.When I checked with the repairer, he said these are antique models and best not to waste money.Your carton looks like mine.Trying to find just audio cassette player without radio and CD player from shops seems difficult.

  5. @Rohini - Along with some good music, there are some Channel V Dance Music, Lou Bega, MAX 1 -10 and stuff like that! Cannot find takers for them! And yes, the autograph is priceless.
    @Sandhya - I guess they think FM is only for the young. The ones on the move and the music caters to them. Sometimes the RJs just keep on talking nonsense. That is what made WorldSpace unique. More music,no ads and less talk.
    @Deepa - we have more tapes than CDs for some reason. Guess they were affordable?
    @KP - your tape collection is similar to the one we have! My FIL also numbered them and had them catalogued and would know if any tape went missing! I doubt if tape recorders are available now. Try getting an old audio walkman from some good soul.

  6. I do have tapes and cds and I use a cd ripper to transfer some of the old collection no longer available.
    This prolongs the life but it is tedious process.
    Music is a balm for the soul and you are lucky to have a collection to hold back to...lucky to Ms.Subbalakhsmi...I think my parents attended a concert or too of hers.

  7. I'm so glad that your music system could be put back into working condition, and you are now able to enjoy the tapes from your box of musical memories!

    We had a similar box too- but many of out tapes became spoiled over the years. We still have some tapes of my children singing though. They are still in good condition!

  8. With the T.V, now only time I listen to music on radio in the car. All the tapes that I had purchased have taken a back seat.

  9. Nothing wrong with Max 1 - 10. Quite of few evenings were spent where MA-SA-LA danced to that music :)

  10. Some times, I feel that too much choice spoils the fun because exclusivity is gone. I used to cherish those cassettes and music cd's that I used to buy back then. Since the collection was limited, I used to value it a lot and find it interesting whenever I listened to it. I loved my cassettes!

    Destination Infinity

  11. Nice to read. You may go in for a Sony casette/CD player which has a slot for pen drive. Play the cassette and the audio gets recorded in MP3 format and stored in the pen drive. This facilitates writing them in CDs

  12. @Rek. @PN Subramaniam - will listen to the tapes as long as they (the tapes) or the player lasts. After that it is cheaper to buy the CDs rather than transfer them .. I think but @ PNS has also given a suggestion. So now to hunt for someone with a sony player with the requirement.
    @Manju - I am surprised our tapes are in such good condition!
    @Rajesh - Music on TV can be quite repetitive.
    @Serenedipity - will gift all the Max series back to you. :-)
    Destination Infinity - Yes, it was only after a lot of deliberation that we would spend on music tapes, and that is why we treasured them

  13. We went through this too. The excitement when we first got world space and then it was gone. The old music system we still have.It doesn't work. I gave away the box of audio casettes. Now, it's the iPad for everything. It's nice but each day, we seem to lose something of the familiar in our lives.

  14. That was a beautiful post Radha. I don't listen to latest Bollywood music at all, but I do catch golden oldies on our local radio station here in the afternoons. Otherwise, I just hop on to YouTube. I think I too may have a bunch of cassettes back home. Not sure if I have a cassette player though. That would be something.

  15. Lovely post. Reminded me of my childhood days. Even I have those cassettes but no tape recorder to play them any more. I wish I could listen to some of them, unfortunately those songs are not there on youtube.
    That autograph is worth a treasure.


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