Nothing is immortal, not even non-living products. Every product has a life. If it doesn’t get phased out in a timely manner, it simple gets discarded by the competition. Hence it makes lot of business sense to plan a product’s life cycle and give it a fitting retirement rather than the product getting fired at the last leg of its life. Some products create such a niche for themselves that they almost may last forever – like Maggie, which is still savored by most of us. Some products are hit by ever changing times so fast and badly that they almost don’t see a life – like pager, the only page I remember is Pappu Pager. But there are a few products, which even after being phased out, never die. They always remain fresh in the memory - some because of their usability, some because of their unforgettable qualities and some because of the nostalgia that we often end up saying – “Wish if I had one today”. Here are a few examples
Nokia-3310 – If a thief entered your house, you could actually break his head by using your Nokia-3310 and call the police using the very same Nokia-3310. Nokia-3310 was the most robust equipment developed after, maybe a road roller. Apart from regular cell phone uses, it could be used as a paper weight, as a hammer, as a crusher and sometimes even for self-protection. I have heard different stories related to this model of Nokia. Once a friend called me to tell that a truck drove over his Nokia-3310 and yet it was working. Once a friend forgot his Nokia-3310 in his pants, washed it in a washing machine – his pants were torn because of the cellphone but saving grace was that the cellphone was still working. Rumor has it that once AIWFHA (All India Wife Fearing Husbands Association) complained to human rights commission demanding banning of Nokia-3310 because wives were beating their husband using the cellphones instead of their traditional weapon – Belan.
As time passed by, Nokia-3310 started becoming less and less visible. Nokia 3315 was quite like Nokia-3310 but not Nokia-3310. Difference was same between Aishwarya Rai and Sneha Ullal or between Rambo and Ravindra Jadeja. But I will never forget Nokia-3310 for its robustness, user friendliness and the fact that it was my first cellphone.
Maruti-800 – Sometime in early 90s my dad, just after returning from Thirupathi Balaji and full with the faith that God would be smiling at him after his trip, announced – “Now within next two years, I will buy a Maruti”. It’s another matter that he didn’t but what is important here is the name. He didn’t say he would buy a car, he said he would buy a Maruti. Such was the brand in those days when owning a car was as rare as owning an IPL team these days. Maruti was like Kochi Tuskars Kerala getting listed – everyone can by a share in it, just that I wouldn’t have the flamboyance of Sir Jadeja.
There is a story related to Maruti which I read somewhere. Once the first Maruti-800 was out, people had their doubts about its performance – whether it will survive on the non-existent Indian roads. Doubters were plenty, believers were a small minority. Manufacturer was required to show the first model of the car to the top bosses (maybe PM) in Delhi. Hence the caravan started – full of ambassadors, fiats, maybe some foreign cars and one Maruti-800. It was pouring that day in Delhi. Soon the city was flooded and looked as if it had been converted into Venice. Out of the caravan, only one car managed to reach its destination. It was Maruti-800.
I am not sure about the auto market in 90s. But the foreign cars remained limited to movies. Ambassadors were almost entirely owned by the government. Fiat’s Premiere Padmini was meant for doctors. If the common man could think of affording a car, it was Maruti-800 – better technology, higher mileage and lower price. What else one could ask for. Alas, the end is nigh.
LML-Vespa – Once I asked my uncle, “Why don’t you sell your scooter and buy a bike. Bikes look so stylish?” He responded saying “My dear nephew, bikes are for rowdies. Scooters for family men like me. I can make stand your sister in the front, pack your fat brother between me and your aunt. While I am coming to meet you on your birthday, I can tie your gift with the Stepney. There will still space for a week’s vegetables and maybe some more grocery”
LML-Vespa was every groom’s delight and almost a must in the list of dowry. You could carry three adults with ease and yet there was place for a kid shorter than driver’s height in the front. Not to mention, the space sufficient enough to accommodate a month’s vegetables and grocery. Unlike its predecessor scooters, LML-Vespa was much trendier in looks and better in mileage. If Shantakumaran Sreesanth ever goes to an old age home, he will be like LML-Vespa of scooters – trendier than the rest. Nitin Gadkari is like LML-Vespa of scooters – can carry unbelievable amount to weight with a smile and yet move. Sunny Leone is like LML-Vespa of scooters – every groom’s delight for the reasons thou-shalt-not-name.
Rotomac pens – At school, we were discouraged from using dot-pens. Fountain or nib pens were the trends which were so successful because of lack of competition as well – only noteworthy competitor was Reynolds which came in boring blue-white attire. Enter Rotomac, in glassy and blue attire, by the hands of tip tip barsa paani fame Raveena Tandon. For all those who remember the song, I can see the spark in your eyes for the reasons once again thou-shalt-not-name. When Raveena sang Likhte Likhe Love Ho Jaye, she easily sold us into it. We were still under her spell Tip Tip Barsa Paani. Rotomac had a better grip than Raynolds, was better in looks, wrote finer and darker plus Raveena sold it. We bought it. But like Raveena, Rotomac also seems to have gone in the hiding of time.
Rasna – Rasna was our staple drink before Pepsis, Cokes and the rest spoiled us. Come the summer vacations and every house, with or without a refrigerator, stocked it. It tasted good with ice. It tasted equally good in normal water. Try drinking modern day beverages at room temperature and you will understand. But more than anything else, I liked Rasna for its ads. Those were not the days when even cement was sold by a bikini clad girl. Ad making good enough to leave a lasting impression on viewer’s mind was a challenge. I didn’t like Rajeev Kapoor and Dharmendra’s Rajdoot ad. The famous pyar hua ikrar hua ad of you-know-what was too embarrassing to watch in front of parents. Jaya aur Sushma in Nirma were quite irritating. In contrast, Rasna ads were different – they had the freshness of Rasna itself. And Rasna, I loved drinking it in colorless glasses. Those colors are still fresh in my memory as they are symbols of the most important colors in my life – colors of my childhood.
Maybe I am too gadgetized to use a Nokia-3310 now, maybe I will never get to own a Maruti-800, I hardly write with a pen these days but come next summer and I am definitely going to grab a few packs of Rasna. Some products are, just immortal