I am amazed at the advancement communication has made. Forget the day Graham Bell invented the telephone, I am amazed at how things have changed over the last two decades that I have lived.
Class Five: There was a concept called “pen friends” then. I would eagerly wait for letters from my pen friends in that red little letter box . The postman used to arrive home at half past eleven in the morning. Come Diwali or birthdays, there was more excitement. The sheer joy of seeing more than two greeting cards in the letterbox was something i always looked forward to. Computers were an unknown entity then.
When i was in class six, my father enrolled me for computer classes during my summer vacation. The first class of two hours was on how to switch on the computer. You first switch the cabinet on, and wait for green light to appear, then switch the monitor on, wait for orange and then the green light. At the end of the day they had a test, which every one had to clear, and i proudly told my dad that i had cleared the first test in computers. They taught me something called MS DOS where you typed a hundred commands( i still am not able to figure out its application: switching on the laptop and typing google is just fine) and then you took printouts of the commands in brown colored paper..The computer instructor would then correct each of the commands one by one, and award marks accordingly.
The landline telephone connection first arrived in our home when i was in class five. And how life changed after that! I would eagerly wait for my mom to go for that evening walk so that I could chat with my best friend for at least an hour. I discussed social studies with my friends, and also took telephonic viva just to check on how well prepared we were! There were other times, when my best friend and poetess recited poems and I used to be her best critic!
Within few years, I moved to Dharwad to do my dentistry, and the landline telephone became the most important means of communication. During my first year there was only one telephone booth in the campus to cater to five hundred plus students. We waited endlessly in queues (overhearing each other’s conversations) for hours, and finally when my turn came to make that call, i would run out of words because of the sheer worry that somebody else is waiting and staring at you through the tinted glass of the phone box. “Ok mama, everything’s fine, say hi to papa” was the only conversation that i mostly ended up with.
And then came the india telephone card. The funniest of the lot. There was one extra telephone in the hostel where you could use this card. You dial atleast twenty numbers atleast ten times spending atleast ten minutes only to realize that you have dialled the last number wrong! Please try again later. There was no “again” as there was somebody behind you holding another telephone card. By this time the only postal letters that i would get were from my father on how to prepare for an exam and how to relax before an exam by doing breathing exercises and eating healthy. The only letters that i wrote were to my father on why i needed that extra little money for the month.
By the time, i was in third year of my dentistry, emails arrived. The prospect of getting replies to my email within two hours thoroughly fascinated me. And there i was, at the college cyber cafe spending 20 rupees every three hours to check whether there was any new mail in my inbox. It is interesting to note that the first account that i opened with yahoo, is still my main email account. Internet explorer had just arrived, and i continued exploring the world wide web.
It was not before my internship that i got my first mobile phone. The mobile phone, if i were to describe it was slightly smaller than an ac remote control and had an antenna an inch and a half long. The brand was alcatel. One of my college mates felt it was large enough to stall the wheels of the dharmasthala temple chariot! Nevertheless it saved me the time and i spoke on it till the last fifty paise of the prepaid service was used. And then another recharge of fifty rupees.
Alcatel changed to Samsung, Samsung changed to Nokia and i was back in Dharwad for my post graduation. If there is one thing that i would vote as the best technological innovation of the millennium, it would be google. I felt empowered by this search engine. I could find all the pdf files that i wanted, download the best journals in the world, find all the favourite music that i wanted without having to buy any music cds, use wonderful images for my powerpoint presentation. How did they ever manage typing a dissertation with a typewriter i wondered. By the end of final year of MDS, my mom replaced my desktop with a laptop, so that i could study in the library. And what a boon it turned out to be. Though i had my desktop in my room, i became too lazy to turn it on as i could browse whatever i wanted on my laptop in the comfort of my bed.
At around the same time, social networking arrived. Orkut was a big rage then during my examinations. Social networking made it possible to connect to my friends world over, share pictures with friends. The time that i spent searching for scientific research articles, now was also spent on replying to scraps from friends.
Any technology or application, i have noticed, becomes popular or obsolete at the same time with all people. By the time i thought it was better on facebook, i noticed that most of my friends felt the same too. And most of the orkut accounts became inactive. I have also noticed that about Farmville. When i started playing the game, most of my friends too were on the same game trying to fertilize each others crops and posting their farm pictures on facebook. When i felt that iam wasting time, my friends too felt the same, around the same time.
My hp pavilion laptop now felt a little too heavy to be carried around. I am wondering if it has anything to do with the number of images i have stored in its hard disk. It is now replaced by a vaio netbook, but i would rather prefer checking my mails and facebook on my blackberry. I would rather browse the internet on my blackberry than switch on my netbook wait for half a minute for it to boot. Browsing on a blackberry has its own disadvantages. First of all, since it is so accessible you are so hooked on to it. I rarely watch television these days. The other day i spent half an hour watching a programme on discovery science and i felt thoroughly enlightened. Whoever called television the “ idiot box”. I wonder what he has to say about facebook!
As soon as there is a comment, i get a notification on my phone. Ten notifications in an hour is enough to keep you wasting the whole hour on the phone. A wise well organized dentist friend of mine only browses for twenty minutes in the evening and twenty minutes in the night. I wish i was that disciplined! These days you have an option of liking a comment. So instead of ten notifications you get twenty.
There was a time when people managed without any phones at all, and these days everyone has two mobile phones each. One for office, one for personal use/ One for patients, one for personal use/ One for local and one for STD: reasons for carrying two mobile phones are plenty. There were days when there were no phones at all and people got lost in the melas to meet after good twenty years, and these days you feel insecure about going to a grocery store without a mobile phone!
With all the changes that have happened over the years, the way we communicate with each other has drastically changed. But there is one thing that has not changed at all over the years for me. The excitement, whether it is another letter in my red letter box or another notification on facebook, has just been the same. Though I would love to receive a hand written birthday card with a postal stamp on it