Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Life without electricity

Recently, during Life without computer my granddaughter (Annie Nayanika; we call her Nonee) asked me what toys I used and what kind of games I played during my childhood. That was an interesting question and my mind went back decades.

By and large the playthings were made from locally available materials. Country crafts and carts with wheels made from wood by native carpenters were the favorites. But only a few in the village could afford even those. Many used balls and other toys made from coconut fronds.

Balls were also made of dried latex strips from wild rubber trees which were common in the place. Sometimes the children played with dry odollum fruits, well aware that they were poisonous.

We were economically better off than the others in the village and used to get imported mechanical toys. UK made products was good. The Japanese ones were considered cheap imitations. This was before the Second World War.

Most of the games we used to play did not require any special equipment. Being in a rural area there were so many other means of passing time as well. Fishing for one. Or canoing n the ponds and canals. Chasing butterflies. Catching dragonflies, tying a string to their tails and making them lift stones. And so on.

Nonee was fascinated with all these. When I told her that we had no electricity or telephone till I was about 25 years old, she could not believe it. What shocked her most was that people could live without TV.

How we got power connection is an interesting story. Two top officials of the Electricity Department (this was before Electricity Board was constituted) came home with an uncle. The elder children were introduced to them - first me, then my directly younger brother Mathew.

Uncle told the officials that Mathew was leaving for the United States in a month’s time for higher studies. Going to America was not a common event those days.

One of the officials immediately stated that it would be a shame to the country if Mathew had to tell the Americans that he came from a village which had no electricity. To cut a long story short, power was switched on in our house the night before Mathew was to leave.

Nonee was impressed. Then I exposed myself to a child’s logic by saying that even before electricity came, we had a radio powered by a car battery. Her immediate question was why we did not use the same method to watch TV. I explained to her that TV came to India much later.

Frankly, I cannot imagine how we managed without electricity till the late 1950s.

Also see:

Cricket in remote areas


Murali RamaVarma said...

Dear AT Sir,

You made this article a very interesting one to read! Nonee could not have imagined those days without TV, electric fans or electric lights. Thinking back, it even surprises us, as you mentioned.


Maddy said...

interesting indeed - i remember our old house in the estates - dad used to have a kerosene oil powered refrigerator and telephones that had to be cranked . Not many believe me when i tell this. here is what it looked like

Maddy said...

Abe - did you ever try out the speech to text feature in the Microsoft suite? that would have been a good idea when you are forced to keep away from a keyboard

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

wow, really interesting!!! It's hard to believe that you people did not have electricity until u were twenty five years old!!! And playing with dragonflies by tying strings to them....i remember from earliest of my childhood memories. My neighbours used to do that...thanks for reminding.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thank you Murali. I have half a mind to write more about those days.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Yes Maddy, some of the estate bungalows used to have kerosene operated refrierators. The way the power situation is going, in many places in India we may have to resort to them again.
I do remember telephones with cranking handles!

Abraham Tharakan said...

Lakshmi Bharadwaj, thank you. I am happy you liked the post.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Maddy, I didn't know about the speech to text feature. Must look it up. Thanks for the lead.

Kariyachan said...

imagine the numerous innovations happened in the last 100 odd years alone, surely surpasses the whole of the previous ones ever..

One can't imagine but wonder how things might be a further 50 years from now.. especially the new possibly infinite innovations in the arena of bio-tech and nano-tech.