When you look at technology over the years, my childhood seems like centuries away. When you stop for a moment to breathe and reflect its unbelievable how we contended with difficulties earlier.
Everything around from my computer to my smartphone, my email, calendar, design and management software, my apps and my social media seem to become my lifeline now. When my phone drains and blacks out of battery, I panic and feel naked and stranded. Life comes to a screeching halt!
Looking back its amazing how we managed and how wonderful everything was. When I reflect back, suddenly I realize the joy of little things and the immense pleasure around the simplest of acts.
I remember as a little child sitting in my grand mothers house in a village in kerala. Our estate caretaker had this radio he would tune into in the evening as the power would black out. Sitting by the old bulky radio in the candle light, he would place his ear close to the speaker, eyes squinted behind his soda thick glasses. We would hear the crackle of voices fading in and out and disappearing to static again. I remember the joy of suddenly hearing a song magically emerge into the darkness of the room and create a new dimension of myriad emotions for all of us.
I remember the first LP at home and every record we had. Sholay and Nazia hussain’s “Disco Dewaane” were my favorites and Qurbani came in a close second. When I had fever, my father would play Sholay and as the hissing sounds that accompanied the silence receded and the songs would play, I was magically healed.
I remember being surrounded by audio tapes and growing up to slowly buy my own. I had distinct memories of learning to create selections and record my own from old tapes. I would record over old tapes and put my favourites as compilations listing them in the cover. My chest would swell with pride when cousins and friends complimented the mix and the efforts I had made to put the songs together. I still remember every song to date.
My memory is etched with clarity on the first VHS tapes at home; Gandhi, Annie, a selection of Tom and Jerry and 3 Hindi titles. Then when television beamed into our home, weekend lunch was a picnic in front of the TV and Spider-Man would swing into our living room.
Photography, the excitement of walking upto the studio days after you gave it for processing and fighting over seeing the pics with my brother and sister.
I still clearly remember writing letters. Sitting down and finding the right paper and making sure my writing was in straight lines. Finding good looking stamps and adding illustrations to my pages. At one point I was churning almost 4 letters a day and receiving 2 a day from friends. I remember waiting excitedly for the postman in the afternoon and brimming with eagerness. The joy of receiving letters!
Then there’s phone numbers. I would know each one by heart and I didn’t need to know more than 20 at most.
Today, in contrast I have over 10,000 songs stored in my iphone, iPod, old flash drives and back up. I get bored of my playlists in a day. I can access radio stations anywhere in the world and any genre and I don’t know what to listen to. I get confused what song to play in my car often. I have over 1000 movie titles and television series collections, my kids have every movie and serials thinkable. My smartphone has close to 3500 numbers and most times I forget my office number. I am taking over 3000 pictures every month and hardly printing any. I receive 100s of emails everyday and send at least 50. My friends are in my pocket and I can knock on their door at the other end of the world when I want. I receive 100s of messages as sms, what’s app and over my social media. I tweet, blog and update my status periodically. I read and devour articles and research and data.
Strange times. Maybe it’s time to stop and breathe and bring back the simplicity and joy into all these everyday tasks. Within the sea of data and excess, find an oasis of magic in the simple simple things. Maybe it’s time for frequent technology detox and cherish the romance of limited availability all over again.