When I was sixteen, I was given my first mobile phone. It did not have high-end features, but it had a radio. For reasons many, I was content with just that. I frequently stayed up late for studying or reading and found FM as my only companion. Sitting next to the window, I listened to the late night talk shows which were catching up in those days. Radio jockeys with an intense human connect, people going home from work or movies, and lovers going through heartbreaks - no matter what, everyone poured their souls out without any fear of seeming vulnerable.
Even before I had the freedom of exploring blogs and platforms where people had the power to share their experiences, I heard people talking about them on radio. I could hear them, sense their apprehensions, understand their joy and often hear what's unsaid and listen to their suppressed tears. I knew regular callers and I knew what exactly they would talk about. Maybe I saw a pattern in everything they shared. Or every failure they tended to ever so carefully.
As a child, I was told by my elders that a radio was the single most powerful device which connected you with the world outside. If my grandfather knew about India's independence, it was through a radio and if my mother heard a movie review, it too was through a radio. I mean, imagine the days when there was no TV, but only a certain voice emanating from a device. A certain voice without a face that everyone relied on.
Over the number of years, the way we procure information has exponentially changed. Now that I think about it, I don't plug in my earphones to hear the news on the FM as I did when I was a teenager. Because Google Assistant religiously updates me, every morning. Funnily enough, I don't even read them. On odd days, I turn on the radio on my way to work only to be bombarded with advertisements. And with so many of them.
What must have thrilled people around 60 years ago (or even 8 years ago), definitely doesn't anymore. A lot has changed in these years - my mobile phone with all the greatest of features that one can ask for does not even support something as basic as a radio. I remember being shocked at it when I was unboxing it.
"How can it not have a radio?"
I asked a couple of friends who never responded to my fury, appropriately. But as someone who literally spent several nights discovering new artists and albums on the radio or by receiving book suggestions from certain RJs, I wonder if our next generations will ever enjoy this simple luxury.
If they'll ever know that they can simply plug into the radio to feel a little less lonely during nights.