Sitting here on a PC, tapping out the column, I think of the time I was doing it on a typewriter. The keys were hard, I would bang them with great force, I used my hand to shift the roller to move from line to line, double space, and, at the start of every paragraph, I would count five empty spaces.
If I pressed a wrong key and made an error, or, if I wanted to change a sentences, I went over it again and marked crosses on it. The ‘x' key was much in use.
Every time I started, I put in fresh paper, two sheets, often more, if I had to give copies to ‘Navbharat Times', ‘Maharastra Times', ‘Economic Times'. And carbons would be put between the papers, always a messy job. Switch off the fan, so that the papers did not fly about. And, every once in a while, the ribbob faded, and it had to be changed. That was an even more messy job, and tedious, thread it through the spool and slots, take it across, thread it again, ah, ha, you've got a twist in the ribbon, do it again.
But the typewriter was my hand, my brain, my inspiration (no, correction, my inspiration was a blank sheet of paper starring at me from the typewriter), my instrument of work and living. When I first decided to become a reporter, I went to a typewriting institute in the Empire Building at Bori Bunder and took a ten-day crash course in typing. I also tried to learn shorthand, but never did. Happily, I do not miss it.
For many years, I associated Godrej with typewriters, not with their steel cupboards that brides still bring home as dowry, not their safes, that sit for and square in Kalbadevi pedhis, next to fat and square sethjis. And, no, not refrigerators, they came much later.
The Godrej typewriters were new. The offices I worked in had several older typewriters, British made, that looked like minitanks, and sounded and worked like them. And they were all battle-scarred with the pounding of generatins of reporters. However, if the house of Godrej does not mind, I would like to point out that they were better than the new Godrej ones.
It was after many years into my career that I went to a typewriter servicing shop in Godha Street and bought myself a secondhand Underwood. It was an antique piece, already well-aged and mature, and I worked on it for another quarter century. I bought it, after much debate, for Rs. 1,200, which was a princely sum. And I bought if after making a resolution that I would produce sufficient amount of copy on it to recover the Rs.1,200. By the time I gave it up for computers, some five years ago, I think I had done it.
Now, I have finished with typewriters for life, and I do not regret it. Just think, now that I have finished this column, all I have to do is type a code, press enter, and it will come out at the other end, in neat columns, in its correct position on the page, ready for printing.