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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Those old days of STD/ISD/PCO

    When I see people talking over mobile phones as per their wish, convenient time and place I sometimes wonder "How easy it has become nowadays to stay in touch with each other, just a press of a button or tap on a screen at any time or place and you start talking with your dear ones". This also takes me down the lane to times when both mobile phones and landline phones were not so prevalent in households. This was the time when people heavily depended on STD/ISD/PCO booths.

    In the market place or around your colony, small shops or outlets with a board displaying "STD/ISD/PCO" was the most common sight. These phone booths would be mostly deserted during day time but during the evening after 7 or 8 pm you would see a queue of people most of the times in the STD/ISD/PCO booths waiting to make STD calls. The reason was that in those days STD rates were reduced to one third or quarter during evening and night time slots by DoT (now BSNL). Some shops kept the phone in open while others had a glass cabin so that people can talk in privacy. People while making phone calls kept their eyes fixed on the display meter at the top which showed the duration of call and bill incurred minute by minute. It was common to hear people say "Ok now disconnecting the phone, the bill has already reached one hundred rupees".

    It was interesting to observe a variety of people making STD calls in these booths and even if it was a glass cabin you could still hear what people were talking to some degree. There would be a son talking to their parents and giving them information about his college, exams or hostel life, a trader giving order of the goods to the distributor, a father or mother talking to their married daughter and not to forget an engaged boy or girl having romantic conversation with their fiancee in a soft tone without any concern about phone bill and many more such examples. It was common to see Impatience and anxiety on the faces of people waiting in the queue when someone inside the cabin talked for a long time.

    This was the time when many people made fewer calls than today and had some frequency of making STD calls as weekly or bi-weekly and they waited for it eagerly. Times have changed now and with mobile phone in each person's hand, STD/ISD/PCO's can still be seen but have lost business and dwindled in number. Even if present they are deserted, and you would no more see queues of people waiting to make phone calls. But they may stay as a memory to cherish for people who have seen those days.
  • #663662
    A nice post where everything about the STD/ISD/PCO booths is wonderfully described. At those times it was easier to harass or abuse people in the sense that they won't be able to get you on the phone if you call from an STD/ISD/PCO booth. I am reminded of one interesting thing after reading this post.

    I was waiting for my turn in the queue to make a call and after few persons made the call and left the booth suddenly the phone inside the glass cabin started to ring. The booth owner rushed inside to attend the call only to find somebody hurling abuses at him from the other end. Later, it was understood that somebody has called that caller earlier to say something which ended in an argument. The person on the other end had the CLI facility but couldn't realize it was the number of a booth and hence returned the call. Those days are over and many funny incidents associated with those booths are also not heard these days. These things indeed stay as a memory to be cherished and shared with others.


    "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

  • #663663
    How can one easily forget those difficult days when we waited in the queue for making STD calls to near and dears. I recall those days when we had prearranged time to wait and make phone calls.

    My daughter was studying in a University in Maharastra for six years, and I, my wife and son stayed in Kochi. We fixed a time to call her regularly every Saturday at 9 p.m. to her local guardian's residence phone number. She was there for six years and completed her post-graduation. We never failed to call, and she never failed to attend the STD calls throughout her stay in Maharastra. We (Me, my wife and son) used to stand in the queue to talk to her.

    @ Memorable STD days.

    No life without Sun

  • #663666
    Interesting post bringing out the memories of those old days of telephonic communication. That time making a telephone call was a costly proposition and we used to make them when it was very necessary to do so. If you compare the average call cost with the average salary at that time then the ratio will come as 1:200 while today it is hardly 1:5000 or even less than that. That time, we were talking for 1-2 minutes but today we are talking till one of us is fed up with lengthy but unnecessary details.

    There is a paradigm shift the way we communicate today and technology is going to make it more exciting in coming days.

    Knowledge is power.

  • #663671
    Yes, those were the days when lots of shops were visible in the street with the board written STD/PCO. In those days there were no mobiles. I remember when I was in a hostel in 1993 I had no mobile and use to go to the market in search of PCO to talk to my parents as my hostel was far away from home.

    Most of the time we used to try after 9 pm as the pulse rate uses to become low and we can talk to the parents at home spending a minimum amount of money. There were many shops near my home whose sole earning was due to this and with the introduction of mobile phones, they had to shut their shops.

    The author has reminded me of those days when we used to stand in the queue for a call and used to spend a few minutes in the booth staring at the meter and once the reading goes up from our budget we use to cut the phone.


    " The two most important days in your life are the day when you are born and the day you find out why? "
    – Mark Twain

  • #663673
    In late 1980s I was staying in a town just about 60 Kim's from Hyderabad. Those days that town was not having even STD also. To talk to my father who is staying in a village in the same state I have to book a call and wait for hours together. Even to talk to our Head Office we used to book a call and wait.
    Later on in early 1990s. STD facility came to that town. Many STD booths came. As mentioned by the author late in the evenings after 9 PM people used to go there and talk as the charges were less after 9 PM.

    I used to go with my wife and used to talk to my parents and her mother at least once in a week. I was having a landline but No STD facility. So we were going out and talking to relatives. That time we used to eat ice creams. So after completing the phone call we used to go to the ice cream shop and eat. By the time we complete all these activities and go back home it is about 11PM.

    Those are my experiences those days and now we talk to our parents from anywhere and any time without any waiting

    always confident

  • #663684
    That time having a phone in the house was a thing of pride. As we did not have a phone in our house so I had to make a PP call to my mother in my neighbours house. The neighbour will call my mother and then after a few minutes the call will materialised. PP meant particular person.
    Thoughts exchanged is knowledge gained.

  • #663693
    Telecom technology has seen sea change. There were many limitations in the landline technology and telecommunication was expensive. The landline connection was not easily available. People had to wait for years to get a connection. As a result, we were forced to use PCO's. The landline technology started with cross bar, followed by stronger. Later came digital technology of OCB and CDOT.

    Consequent to liberalisation of economic policies of the Country many MNC's came to India with CDMA and GSM technology.

    Now telecommunications has become very cheap and accessible to everyone.

    "If you don't understand my silence, you will not understand my words"

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