📅 That was the year I was born. Three decades of living in India. So much has changed for better and worse. I still think it was the most fun decade to be born in. I consider us the technology bridge generation. There were plenty of technological advancements that happened in the eighties. None however were as transformational as the advent of mobile phones, and the internet that took root much later.
🌏 I was pondering how our lives in this pandemic would be different if we didn’t have this thing called the internet. It felt like we would have things much harder, but we would have managed. Might certain things have been better? Which got me thinking of all the ways my own life was so vastly different in my childhood and adulthood. I began to remember the strangest of things.
💵 Paying bills. This is the thing we most take for granted. I remember the time when I was sent with a cheque from home every other month to the local electricity office. People often queued up well before the billing window was scheduled to open. Arrive close to opening time and you were in for a long wait. The funniest memory I have of this whole exercise is individuals trying to cut into the line under some pretext or the other and the ensuing arguments with the most vocal people in the line. I saw this at-least every other time I went there. Having to sometimes wait for over an hour in the sweltering heat was bound to make people cranky.
☎️ The charming old PCO booth. The struggle to convey a long message before you ran out of coins. The most remarkable thing about the landline was the commitment you made if you arranged to meet someone somewhere at the time and place you agreed upon on the call. There could be no excuses. If you didn’t turn up that, was it. No last-minute messages to excuse yourself for being late. It almost seems to me the fact that you can now convey messages in real-time means humans have developed a proclivity for tardiness.
📱Smart devices. My 3-year-old can simply ask Alexa to play a song he wants or turn on or turn off the lights. Music on demand. The 3-year-old me would think this is science fiction. I can never forget the joys of buying cassettes, then CDs, the Napster era and all the pain that came with that. The rewinding of cassettes to play the song you wanted and God forbid if the tape loop got stuck and you had to use the humble pencil to get things back in order. The ridiculous prices of CDs and having to buy entire albums just for one song and the brief tryst with Napster trying to find a proper version of the song we desired were unforgettable ordeals.
Despite my reminiscing, I can say with conviction that I would never want to go back to those ways of doing some things. Yet, I only look back with fondness on my experiences. They defined our lives in that era and keeps reinforcing to me the fact that no matter what period we live in, one should never rue the past because emotions are timeless.
Even if we have changed the way we do the most basic things everything culminates in evoking a feeling. Whether it is joy, sadness, anger, frustration, and everything else on the spectrum, the capacity of a human being to experience this across timelines is what defines our humanity.