Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tape That


Object-ification?

Just when I was about to bury my old tape recorder, Aamir Khan resurrected the gadget in the trailer of Raju Hirani's yet to be released movie ‘PK’. Dismayed by its strategic presence, women and Karan Johar wanted to snatch the tape recorder from Aamir’s hands. To find the hidden truth. Why else? After all, there is something called scientific temper - the refusal to accept anything without examining. That’s why.
The last time a tape recorder captured our cinematic imagination was when the recorded voice of Rajesh Khanna stunned a grieving Amitabh - Babu Moshai, Zindagi aur Maut To Uparwale Ke Haath Hai.

Like other tools of popular culture, the tape recorder was a rage in the early eighties. Its demise compels me to play the somewhat broken record of my memories. I am not sure why, but the tape gets stuck around my red Sony Walkman - a birthday gift by my father. It was an era when Japanese gadgets from Aiwa, Sony, and Sanyo were synonymous with quality, whereas goods made in China, well, stayed in China. A Sony Walkman dangling around the neck was in tune with the times. It meant that all was well with the world. For the Apple fed generation, Sony Walkman was the grandfather of the present generation iPod. Given that street dancing became a popular trend in America those days, it was rightly called the Boom Box, a ghetto blaster or a jam box.
It was fascinating to be able to record your own favorites in one cassette that played in a loop for hours together. Of course, you could switch on the radio anytime, but listening to your favorite songs was pure delight. The only irritant was buying good quality cassettes. Those with ample pocket money would go for HMV or Sony cassettes, but the humble ones blessed Gulshan Kumar’s T series. Among other things, the tape recorder imparted an important lesson. Like warning me to never, ever sing in public. I remember recording a few lines in solitude. After listening to my own voice on tape, I realized that if I wanted to keep friends, I had to stay away from singing.
What amplified the fun was the fact that the tape recorder allowed the freedom to carry your own music on a road trip. You could tap your feet to the beat of George Michael’s ‘Faith’ or sing along ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ as the scenery flitted by. 


All in all, tape recorders were the coolest thing that happened to music until the arrival of the revolutionary IPods. Revolutionary, because you could store as many as 40,000 songs in your pocket with a storage capacity of 160GB. Like Sony, Apple changed the way we listened to music. Even as I write, fans are mourning the quiet death of iPod Classic, after a brief life span of seven years.

In a world dominated by technology where gadgets are becoming smaller and lighter – the demise of the tape recorder was expected. It is now time to listen to music on the Apple Wrist Watch - a ‘wearable device’ unlike the tape recorder or the iPod. Of course, the watch will tell the time among other things. Only, you can’t use it as an effective undergarment. Or maybe Aamir can. For all I know, or care, Aamir’s wife will be the right person to talk about it. 


This post is also on Huffington Post.

56 comments:

  1. Loove the post, Alka. Remind me of the Sanya days where owning a radio recorder was a luxury of sort. Despite the gadgets, nothing beats the joy of the good ole radio cassette. It was pure bliss:)

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    1. Back then, it was fun. I'd prefer an iPod today.

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  2. Alka, this was surely one of your best posts. You satire was so subtle that I almost missed it. When I read the post on my phone, I did not pay attention to the caption on the picture. I saw it just now, when I came to comment.

    Kudos!

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  3. I never had a walkman, but had two wonderful tape recorders. I used to record songs in an empty cassette - I was/am very selective about which songs I listen to. When CDs came, the quality difference was telling, and the tape recorder had to go. That's why I don't listen to songs from iPod - I don't want something that can kill my computer headphones/speaker listening experience!

    Destination Infinity

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    1. You are right. CD sound quality was so much better. I still play them on weekends.

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  4. This post took me back to the times when I would record multiple love balads and gift them to my boyfriend/s. Also it helped me gain my faith in singing.

    In spite of the fact that a player is no where to be seen in my house, i am still the owner of a gazillion (that's an exaggeration, though!) cassettes. Considering the space they take in my house they looks like in "millions". How I wish they would cost as much too ... or perhaps they do! :)

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    1. You sing! Great. Next meet we are going to listen to your lovely voice.

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  5. Hilarious post! Loved how you brought it all together to wind up with Aamir Khan. People find it strange that I am not a music lover. So much so that I prefer silence to music, anytime. But your post sure brought back memories of a time gone by when that piece of equipment was a must have- at any household and cassettes made good birthday gifts.Although I would always recycle them to people who enjoyed them :P :)

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    1. It's not strange Akanksha. I am not a music buff either. And I get it when you prefer silence over sound.

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  6. Tell me about it :) AND, believe me, I still miss the 'Walkman". Yup the new gen devices load a lot of songs BUT THAT is my problem. The headache of making the choice of what to listen to quite puts me off using them :) Give the back the minimal choice of the tapes - for that is all my brain is capable of handling :)

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    1. I have a huge collection Suresh. And I don't have the heart to throw them away. Also I don't like listening to music with headphones. My ear drums hurt.

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  7. That was a fun and nostalgic read! I even remember the first cassette I bought - Lata sings for Madan Mohan :) Those were such simple times! But of course our parents must have thought differently. The humour quotient of your post was highly enjoyable without being over the top. I appreciate such subtle humor :)

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    1. Thank you for appreciating a tinge of wit there.
      Such readers are a treasure.

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  8. Just recently we digitized our stack of cassettes before trashing them. I can't say that I miss the Walkman but I do miss the days when I'd stay glued to the AIR's Yuv Vani for their latest pop hits. I still prefer the radio. Don't have the patience to download and pay 3 dollars for a single number from iTunes.

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    1. I don't have the heart to trash my collection of tapes. We still listen to them over weekends. Somehow I can't listen to music with headphones. My ear drums hurt.

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  9. I liked tape recorders, especially others' as I would always find them swankier than mine. Walkman walked into our lives much later. But what I loved the most was the HMV record player which we had. It was like a day of celebration. Taking out the recorder, dusting it, setting the record on the player and playing it was an elaborate ritual. I grew up on Beethoven, Gantasala and Mannadey. Now, I fail to remember the names of the gadgets. I can't grasp them, by the time I do, they would have made way for a new one. I liked life when it was simpler.

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    1. Your words, my thoughts Janaki. My husband is a Rafi fan, so we still listen to HMV tapes over weekends.

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  10. The magnificent tape recorder - Sigh! But, as much as I miss the tape recorder, I still love my iPod. However I do miss saving my favourite hobby - which was trying to "reel" back in "un-reeled" tapes with an orange camlin pencil. So much fun :)

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    1. I don't miss it either Sid. But back then, it was totally cool.

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  11. Pencil, cello tape, scissors and cassettes ... you bring back memories

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    1. Ha ha..yeah. Rewinding the tape with a pencil, yes.

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  12. A lot of memories flashed past as I read this nostalgic post on the Sony Walkman and tape recoder era! This gives a feeling of how time flies and old makes way for the new! One has to constanty keep pace with the time, though it is difficult when it comes to technology, Alka:)

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    1. Can't believe that iPod Classic is dead. Already.

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  13. i had a walkman and now I want to go to my parent's place and dig that fossil. Sigh! how technology changes the way we live our life.

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  14. I like my Ipod but most days I am just lazy to update the playlist, so I play my music on YouTube or listen to radio. Undergarment - please, no!!! :)

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  15. I do not miss my tape recorder...but my Ipod classic, which was a gift someone gave me in 2007, and still works just fine, is something I will miss. They dont make such classic stuff anymore.

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    1. Anita, I can't believe iPod Classic is dead. That's what I read somewhere.

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  16. I never liked the tape recorder for some strange reason. I loved my ipod though !

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    1. Back then, it was fun. But yes, iPods were revolutionary.

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  17. Ahh... our tape recorder is gathering dust at my parent's place..I think I'll send that to Amir Khan, it's bigger & will offer him more cover ;)

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    1. The point is, does he need a bigger one? ;)

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  18. Alka nobody has mourned the tape recorder's demise more than me.All my cassettes recorded so lovingly are now gathering dust.It is painful.

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    1. Indu, I can't bear to trash them either.

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  19. Certainly gone are the days when walkman was the new swag.But i surly dont miss them.Cleaning of cassette racks, untangling the broken tapes with pencils, lending them to the thankless souls were a big headche.Digital world has really made our life super easy but made us almost torpid toads. Thanks for taking us back to our childhood days.

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    1. It was cumbersome, no doubt. But back then, before the CDs it was fun.

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  20. Any bets....Amir's present and ex wives are going to be amused reading this as they ONLY know the truth as to which size fits him

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    1. Ha ha..We don't know if his wives are the only ones!
      ;)

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  21. Now that you give me an idea, Amir Khan' reproductive limb can wear the Apple Watch with aplomb and women and Karan Johar need not be dismayed and want to snatch it unless... And that would be a very original thing to do for Mr Khan, unlike mimicking 'Memento' or Quim Barreiros, except Steve Jobs would be turning in his graves somewhere.

    Thanks for reminding me of the Tape Recorder. I have a comatose Sanyo and not less than 500 cassettes which I can neither throw away or put to any use. Yes, T-Series helped a lot, bless Mr Gulshan Kumar's soul. I can still hear the numbers of 'Ek Duje ke Liye' and 'Thriller' in my mind belting out of that magical device. Oh Boy! Those were times!

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    1. Good Lord. Trust Umashankar to take it to another level...ha ha.
      Good to see you here after a long time. Just as tape recorder reminds you of Ek Duje Ke Liye, for me it evokes memories of QSQT - Akele Hai To Kya Gham Hai. It was the beginning of Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan era.

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  22. Reminded me of the days I would play Kaho na pyaar hai on tape and imagine myself to be Amisha Patel dancing with Hrithik in some island.
    This was truly a journey down the memory lane.

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    1. For me the cassette player evokes memories of QSQT - Akele Hai To Kya Gham Hai. It was the beginning of Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan era. We were on a road trip to Mussoorie.

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  23. Those were some days, my parents refused to buy me Sony walkman as it was for 1600 Rs. This generation is blessed. But still, nothing can beat the charm of tape recorder. I used to go to these local stores where they recorded all my favorite songs for 10 Rs.

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    1. And that endless repairing with the help of a pencil....

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  24. I still have all old tapes, in fact got most of them back from home this time to convert into MP3's.. but i agree those were the days :(

    P.S- been under the weather quite a bit off late, just got around to reading blogs. will catch up on your story as well :)

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    1. I was thinking about your absence on Facebook Seeta. Don't worry about reading blogs, get well soon. TC.

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  25. Ah.. the Walkman - the gadget to be with if you are cool :) Cant believe that the cassette period is gone and we have come to the jet set age of apple watches.. what am I going to do with all the cassettes :(

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    1. I don't have the heart to trash my collection. But they gotta go some day soon!

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  26. Seriously. So much money we would spend and get our songs recorded on those cassettes. Lovely time. A walkman was always in my wishlist but never was possessed by me ;)

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    1. Never mind. Go for the Apple Watch now!

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  27. Ah, nostalgia!
    We should be thankful to the likes of Sony for giving humankind the Tape Recorder. Just imagine, if Aamir had to rely on the IPod Nano to hide his royal jewels on the PK poster!

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    1. Ha ha... For Aamir's sake we need the tape recorder. Only his wife can tell if a radio or a Walkman can serve the purpose.

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  28. This is Nostalgic.. there use to be a magazine called SUN and JETSET, that was weekly. they use to have a Poster in them and also a page which had the UK to 10 and US top 10 that week, In sector 17 chandigarh there use to a book shop where i bought thse Every week and Directly opposite the book shop was a PHILIPS showroom, and in their LOFT on ground floor use to be a music room where a Sikh gentleman use to sit and I would give him the list of these 20 songs, Which he would Record on to a 60 minute Cassette :)
    and for the whole week the songs would run on my Tape recorder

    I have all the Tapes still back home.. for some reason my Mom has got rid of all the [posters I had but kept all the cassettes ..

    so many memories .. my friends would borrow the player for parties , My grand-dad had visited USA and brought it for me as a present .. The good old daysssssssssss

    Bikram

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    1. Oh, you went back down the nostalgic lane... Thanks Bikram.

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