“Do you have a cell?’ I was asked the other day! Imagine! Yes,l very well do,and not one! l will have you know l am made of 3 trillion cells! So there!
“Arre na na,do you have a cellphone?”came the query again. Ah,that….of course! How else would l be alive ?! Just as science declares a ‘cell’ to be the very basic unit of life, we humans have declared a ‘cell’phone to be very basic to life itself! No matter if the oxygen level around us goes down,the charge on our cell phones must remain in the safe range.. does one need say more?!
There was a time when homing pigeons flew miles carrying messages,sensitive and otherwise,from one soul to another. It would take days to deliver and then too,there was no real guarantee of the delivery…the messenger might have been gobbled up by a bird of prey at any point along the way !! Thank God for advances in technology…our present messengers are so much safer!And the speed of delivery of messages now is such that a day is not far when an event would be imminent and the details would have already percolated down to the last person!!
No more the hazards faced by the dak- harkaras or mail-runners of yore,who had to brave bad terrain, unpredictable weather and being mauled by wild animals on their way…our messages now reach their destinations safe and sound, pronto!Yet,does any of you feel (like l do) that ‘instant messaging’ has taken away somewhat from the romanticism of getting your word across,at times? Not that l am rooting for the unreliability , inefficiency or tardiness of the older systems of communication,not the least of which is the ‘Indian postal service’; but l do rue not receiving or writing letters anymore…proper, real letters that one would write to one’s elders,friends,cousins,so on and so forth. There was a thrill in coming home to an unopened inland letter, sitting quietly on the table,in it’s muted sky-blue glory,waiting to be torn or slit open( depending on the eagerness/elegance of the reader!)and read hungrily ,often each word re-read, either out of wonder or disbelief,again depending upon what news the blue pages carried!
And remember the telegram? Here of course,l am talking to my contemporaries,people in the 40s and 50s!!
Yes,the telegram…symbolic of drama,extremes,suddenness of some kind…the harbinger of either joy or utter tragedy..how can anyone of my generation forget the telegram and what it embodied?!
Looking at today’s ease and convenience of communication through instant messaging apps,various mails (email,voice mail),even video calls,l cannot help but wonder how things must have been earlier!
How must a lover have communicated his/ her love or pinings and yearnings to the significant other who was some distance away? How would they have relayed any emergency? What about news regarding a loved one dying,waiting for a last glimpse? How must the world have been,with no word reaching anyone on time, about anything at all,whether good or bad?! After all,you couldn’t have raised smoke signals or run a pony express just to say ” I love you and l miss you”! So much must have been lost in delayed communication..the finer nuances of so many relationships must have suffered! My heart goes out to my ancestors and all humankind of yesteryears for their travails ,their uncountable hardships…as does it for the simple means of communication that existed in those days. Every single time that our fingers fly on the keyboard,punching out words that convey our needs,opinions and emotions, we must realise how fortunate we are to be born in an era where the most hard work that is required of us, is to hit the send button at the very end..and the rest,as they say,is history!