Kudos to Dr. Javeed Nayeem for his write-up on telephone history of India (SOM dated Oct.6). He has covered almost all aspects of our telephone culture in the recent past.
But how can we ever forget our reverence to and the importance of the “black box.” It was placed on various types of mats, wooden stands with provision for the directory, stands with flexible arm, special wooden stools matching surrounding furniture etc.
Then, knitted cover on our revered black box, sometimes colourful silken cover. A specialist would visit our homes once a week to clean, polish to shine and fix a piece of scented paper to the mouthpiece, which emanated fragrance every time one picked the phone to make a call !
Since the same black box was used by many, every new user would first clean the mouth- piece before using the instrument, for the fear of infectious diseases !
The Red Telephone Booths of England, the queues before telephone booths for the use of telephone, and the portrayal of telephone in our cinemas, villains cutting telephone lines, a lover tapping lines etc; how could one ever forget all these.
To have a friend in Telephone Department was a necessity, and a line man was a VIP. Then to be a member of Local Telephone Authority, which decided allotment of a telephone connection, or MP quota etc., were important part of our telephone history and culture.
– R. Chandra Prakash, Mysuru, 9.10.2017
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