We live in a world that is hallmarked by violence, intolerance, war and deprivation. It is for this reason alone that I decided to format my columns in a nostalgic vein - bringing back to life better and happier times. To accomplish this, I dug into my own memory and that of many people known to me. Some of these individuals were celebrities, while others were ordinary men and women, nondescript and yet significant in their own rights.

The success or failure of my endeavour became evident, when I started receiving feedback from the readers. Some of this feedback came from those who had, perhaps, got up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, but most of it came in the form of resonance, empathy and encouragement. I am, nonetheless, grateful to both sides of the fence for communicating their points of view.

I often tell my younger friends, some of whom are as old as my grandchildren, that notwithstanding the turmoil that stereotypes our lives, they are far ahead of us in awareness, decision making and intellect. I say this because some of the things, which they come across every day of their lives, were science fiction to us as children and teenagers.

Take, for example, the television. We had read about a magic box-like radio that showed moving pictures, but the first time that many of us saw this ‘miraculous’ device was somewhere in the mid-fifties in the annual industrial exhibition that was held in Minto Park Lahore.

Television sets then, were not the sleek high-tech stuff that one comes across today, but consisted of a polished wooden cabinet with a small rectangular convex screen. The aperture housing the loud speaker was below the screen and covered with an appropriate coloured tapestry. I can still remember the amazement that these moving black and white pictures generated amongst many, who had no idea what the television was and thought that there was a tiny race of human figures inside the box.

Music in those days came out of radios and gramophones and not CDs, blue ray discs and high-tech digital sound home theatres. The gramophones came in two basic models. The earlier of these was a wooden box with an overgrown petunia-like loud speaker, the depiction of which can be seen on the His Master’s Voice logo. The later model was the size of an air-porter with a built-in speaker.

Both these models operated on the same principle, wherein a metal needle had to be fixed in a head fixed at the end of an ‘S’ shaped stalk. The gramophone was then cranked up by hand to spin the turn table carrying a 78 RPM record. As the table spun, the ‘head’ was placed gingerly on the outermost groove of the record and presto - one had ‘Kundan Lal Saigol’ crooning his heart out from inside the sound box.

This was a time when we had heard of a wonderful invention that created an artificial winter in the middle of a scorching summer day. Our practical concept of staying cool in the Lahori heat was the use of ‘thermidores’ or coolers, which became intolerable as the outside humidity increased in the monsoon season.

One of the first buildings to incorporate air conditioning was the United States Information Service Library Auditorium located in Bank Square near Nila Gumbad. I can recall the cold shock that visitors experienced as they transited from the furnace like heat to a freezing darkened hall. I am told that the air conditioning project did a lot to boost the library membership.

It stood on the tarmac in all its weather beaten glory. Its tail appeared to be resting on the concrete, while the fuselage slanted upwards at an acute angle to end at the cockpit. This was my first impression on seeing a C47 Dakota of Pakistan International Airlines parked at Walton Airport. These were the days of propeller aircraft and Lahori children had the time of their lives watching legendary machines like the Dakota, Super Constellation and later the Viscount landing and taking off from Walton Airport.

We saw the advent of the jet passenger aircraft in this part of the world when mysterious, white cloud-like lines, began appearing in the skies creating sensation and rumours of ‘flying saucers’. What we didn’t know then was the fact that these were condensation trails of jets, flying at high altitudes.

The other day, I watched as my grandson skilfully began explaining the ‘intricacies’ of a modern tablet to his grandmother and I smiled to myself as one by one the wonderful inventions of my time trooped past my eyes.

The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City.  His forte is the study of History.