The language was Bangla, but the accent and the stories, distinguishably Chinese. An avid radio listener, my father tried to inculcate this dying habit into his sons. FM is not real radio. Short wave is.

Radio Beijing with its waves traversing the Himalayas captivated me. Stories from China, read out in textbook Bangla with a Chinese accent that sounded so sweet. I didn’t know of the concepts of propaganda and censorship and I enjoyed every bit of it. Radio Moscow (now Voice of Russia), Voice of America and the good ol’ Beeb. Later as I learnt to read, comic books took over followed by Doordarshan, then cable TV and now the Internet. I no longer hear the crackle of short wave only the RJ yapping away on the FM while I drive to and back from work.

The first radio in our home was a massive Murphy valve, it came along with a net-like antenna. The body was of wood and had the very distinguishable Murphy baby logo. After years of service, it was retired and came a more portable Philips, a radio that my father still listens to.

When I grew up a bit, the Murphy served as an amplifier for my portable cassette player (or walkman as we called them). The big valves inside were fascinating and it became the subject of my electronic experiments, till the time I had damaged its vital organs beyond repair. After spending a few years in a box under the bed, it was sold off to a raddiwallah.

On discovering this 1966-vintage advertisement for Murphy radios, old memories came rushing back. Also, Sharmila Tagore, one of my favourite actresses from that era, brought back the days of sitting before a black & white Keltron TV set (the one with shutters) at a neighbour’s drawing room watching Kashmir Ki Kali, Junglee, An Evening in Paris… on Doordarshan. Sigh!

Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore in 1966 advertisement for Murphy Radio sets
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