13 February is celebrated as World Radio Day. Officially proposed by Spain, this day is about celebrating the importance of radio in our lives. On World Radio Day, we meet a city-based collector of the radio sets and his love for radio cannot be expressed in words.
Coimbatore based Abu Tahir grew up in a family who was trying to make ends meet. He recalls the days when he ate just one meal a day.This was the mid-day meal that was served in his school. The financial situation of his family prompted him his schooling and he found himself working as a mechanic in a bicycle repair shop. Abu admits that the radio had always fascinated him since he was a boy. His tryst with the radio had just begun then. Today, this 40-year old Coimboterian has a collection of nearly one hundred radio sets. A family man today, Abu is still trying to make ends meet but nothing stops him from collecting the nearly forgotten invention- the radio.
“When I was in school, the radio was a luxury that only the rich could afford. I remember as a school boy how I used to peep into the window of the people’s homes and watch how they tuned the radio in their homes. I always wanted to own and use one and today, I have a collection of many antique pieces.” Abu says.
The year was 1992 and a young Abu was a bicycle mechanic in a repair shop. He managed some savings and he expressed his desire to his colleagues to purchase and own a radio set. A few days later, a scrap-dealer offered him a piece of radio that refused to play for rupees 30. It was big money for someone who has given up his studies in order to support his family. However, Abu purchased it without second thoughts. All for the love of radio! The new owner of this radio dismantled the set and tried all his best to make it work. However, all his efforts were in vain. It was only in the year 1996 that Abu got to learn that he is in possession of a ham radio. A jubilant Abu made up his mind that he will set aside funds to purchase and collect radio pieces that catch his eye and this trend continues even today.
Currently, Abu has about 70 pieces of radio and they include a variety. Ones like a single battery operated ones, single band radios, radios made of wood, teak wood and radio with three controls among other pieces have made it to his unique collection of radio sets. He shares with us that he sets aside rupees 1,500 every month in order to maintain his collection.
“About three years ago, I was staying in a rented home. Heavy rains damaged 50 radio sets of my collection. I was unable to eat and sleep for several days. Several days later, I got over it and I take precautionary measures to protect my collection.” Abu says.
Currently, he works as a driver and in his free time Abu reads a lot of literature about radios and their operation. He is not a technology savvy person and a majority of his learning takes place by talking to people and reading the printed books.
“I love chatting with the older persons and they educate me about radio. It was from an age old gentleman that I got to know that radio sets manufactured by the Philips company are the best. This old gentleman told me that radio sets manufactured under the Philips banner were known for their quality of sound and frequency accuracy.”
Despite being in a situation where he is trying his best to make ends meet, Abu clarifies that his precious collection is not for sale. When given an opportunity to display his collection at trade shows, Abu grabs every opportunity that comes his way. During one of the trade exhibitions, Abu was offered a whooping sum of rupees two crores in exchange for his collection by a businessman. This he promptly turned down, and he clarifies that he will not let go of his collection, come what may.
His plans for the future are to add on to his collection. The last piece that he purchased was four years ago. Plus, he also has ambitious plans of opening up a museum one day where he can showcase his impressive collection.
On World Radio Day, Abu shares that everyone including the tech-savvy youth should take advantage of the radio. “When we read, we might forget what we read, while we watch television or surf the internet, there are chances of us overlooking a few things. However, whatever we listen gets registered in our brain. This is the power of the radio.”