10 things you rarely see in India anymore

From PCOs to Maruti 800s, here are some things that were lost in the race for progress.

August 15, 2019 is India’s 73rd Independence Day. As India turns a year older, it seems apt to look back at some of the things as we embraced progress with both hands.

1. Public phones

PCOs (Photo: Kangana Arora/Wikimedia Creative Commons Under Creative Commons License)

Public phones or PCOs were a standard fixture throughout the ‘80s and much of the ‘90s. The humble yellow boxes connected millions across cities, towns and villages at a time when the telegram was the only other form of express communication.

2. Pagers

Pagers (Photo: Wikimedia Commons Under Creative Commons License)

Pagers had their brief moment in the sun just before mobile phones took over the market. For just a few years in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s everyone seemed to have a pager. And then, just like that, they became obsolete.

3. Phone directories

Phone directory (Photo: Tomasz Sienicki/Wikimedia Commons Under Creative Commons License)

Along with the phones and pagers, phone directories too became obsolete. With fewer people using landline phones and most businesses having online presence, phone directories soon became a thing of the past.

4. TV antennas

TV antenna

As permanent a fixture as the PCOs were the TV antennas that dotted almost every building and house in the country, not unlike the dish TV antennas do now. The retro antennas, however, just transmitted a couple of channels unlike the modern ones that can transmit hundreds at a go.

5. Typewriters


The typewriter may be making a comeback in hipster circles, but, for most part that technology had become obsolete around the ‘00s itself. Computers made for a far more efficient replacement and before you knew it, typewriters were lost in the annals of history.

6. Walkman


Long before iPhones replaced iPods replaced MP3 players, there was the Walkman that played just one cassette at a time. In several ways the Sony Walkman was the true predecessor of the iPod. Steve Jobs himself said that the iPod should’ve ideally come from the Sony stables.

7. Video cassette recorders and players


Come to think of it, the VCR was the only gadget that could record live TV for the longest possible time. No other consumer gadget came as close to the VCR when it came to recording capabilities.

8. Sidecars

Bikes with sidecars

At a time when owning a car was a big deal, most middle class Indians opted for the closest second – a scooter/bike with a sidecar! Sidecars still do exist, yes, but with cars becoming more accessible to buy, these quaint contraptions slowly disappeared from Indian roads.

9. Maruti 800

Maruti 800 (Photo: Aashim Tyagi/Wikimedia Commons Under Creative Commons)

During the times of the chunky Ambassador and the sleeker-but-still-very-much-a-Daddy-Car, the Premier Padmini, the Maruti 800 was the car of the youth. The coolest and hippest kids in college drove one till it was replaced by cooler and hipper cars that flooded the market post the 1991 Liberalisation programme.

10. The Encyclopaedia


Every nerd and wannabe nerd had a set in their home. And then Wikipedia happened.