The Aerial- life in pakistan in the 80s

This is random but I just felt like writing about it. For many of us watching Television was not as straight forward as it is today; in the local cable age, you get 100s of channels easily and with little trouble. Things were very different, yet, thinking about it brings bitter sweet memories.

Our television viewing was at the mercy of a fickle piece of technology called the Aerial.. that is what we called it .. so, basically, the tech side of it is that to receive the channels, in our times, either PTV or Doordarshan from India, the aerial had to be precisely positioned and only then would we be able to enjoy the program. Keep in mind that although, PTV was easy to catch, Doordarshan was very elusive. I sometimes think that just to piss Pakis off Indians regularly changed Doordarshans setting, that is why I never remember receiving the channel with the aerial in the same position.

On Sundays we would all wait for the chitrahar (today they are called Music countdown or whatever); in order to catch the complete program we started tuning in on Doordarshan hours in advance. The tuning process required the efforts of three individuals, one would be on the roof, wresting with the aerial; another would be stationed infront of the TV, as soon as the picture and sound quality reached satisfactory levels he would instruct the roof-top guy to stop; I would often be stationed in the middle, and would be the messenger between the roof top person and the person in front of the Television.

Although, at the time it was a nerve wracking experience, thinking about it now, I cant help but smile. As they say boys will be boys, and we even turned such a mundane activity into a competitive field. The competition was mainly between the rooftop guy and the guy infront of the Television.

A typical scene:

The rooftop guy return triumphantly with a smile on his face and as soon as he would set eyes on the T, he would say, this is no good. You are useless, go upstairs and I will tell you when to stop. The roles switched now, after a few minutes the new rooftop guy would return and as soon as he would set eyes on the TV he would say, that mine was so much better. The TV guy would say, you dont know how to fix the aerial. The rooftop guy would get offended, and then in his defense would say he painstakingly moved the aerial inch by inch. With such a stalemate I would often get the blame for not relaying the message in time.

From my experience I will assert that the middle man’s job was the most difficult. What do you think?

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