I will never forget how my dad’s eyes gleamed with wonder when he got his first TV with a remote control. He reverentially called it a magic wand. Today, with remote controls for almost everything including Prime Ministers past and present, the reverence has worn off. ‘Where’s that damn thingie,’ he roars when he wants to switch channels. Yeah, remote controls are so last century. But hey, I do happen to have a certain fondness for the last century. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a techno bimbo. Music-wise, I would be delighted if clunky record players were still around instead of DVDs or Bluetooth/Pinkmolar or whatever it is people listen to music on these days – in fact I miss my LPs a lot as the album covers doubled as pop art posters and made my bedroom look funky cool. Even back in the bad old days, Sony’s radical Walkman never did it for me: I felt like I was wearing stuffy earmuffs and almost got run over once because I couldn’t hear a lethal truck honking. That was my ‘OK Tata Bye Bye’ Walkman moment.
It’s just my luck to be married to Geek Freak who listens to music on his cell phone, iPod, iPad and (hold your breath) a showerhead and potty seat too via Bluetooth/Pinkmolar. When I rolled my eyes at the musical potty seat, Geek Freak insisted that I give it its due since it’s multi-talented – it has an inbuilt heater and can keep your botty warm on shivery cold winter days. I have never liked metaphorical hot seats and there’s no way I’m going to sit on a real one!
The showerhead, though, did fascinate me for a few days – the monsoon had put up a sorry show that year, and I made Geek Freak programme it to play my favourite rain songs while I splashed about in clean water instead of mucky puddles with dead cockroaches floating around like rose petals. The novelty soon wore off because I couldn’t hear Flipkart/Amazon delivery boys ringing my doorbell.
Which brings me to online shopping. Yes, I enjoyed the convenience tremendously, but I’m mortified to report that a year later I had reached the stage where I had to order colourful tents – to wear, not as a roof over my head while camping in the great outdoors. All that sitting on my butt instead of long calorie-burning walks while window shopping did me in. I had no choice but to walk briskly to the nearest fitness training equipment store. I also hired a Haryanvi personal trainer who solemnly tells me weird little local proverbs daily like, ‘These days even dogs eat kheer.’ My life truly has become richer and by the time I get back to being 55 kgs I may well be India’s next Munshi Premchand! By the way, I’m still smirking about the great Flopkart scam, sorry, sale. So glad I said goodbye to online shopping before I was suckered. I have saved their apology email, of course. It’s not often that I get people to tell me they’re so very sorry.
“Idiots shouldn’t have smartphones,” Geek Freak groaned when I struggled to use the one he gave me for my birthday a few years ago. I’m having the last laugh now, after the launch of the much awaited iPhone 6. I have so wanted a phone that bends in my pocket – not! In case you’re interested, unshed tears shone in Geek Freak’s eyes as he re-read his favourite comfort book (the biography of Steve Jobs) to regain his equilibrium.
I’m no Luddite though and I will always appreciate technology that helps people stay in touch. Friends who have children scattered across the United States of America studying any old rubbish before they can become NRIs and give birth to children who will be future winners of Spelling Bees have gone on and on about Skype and WhatsApp. “We can talk to them free for as long as we want!” they gush. Not wanting to be the odd person out, I had a Skype session with a friend who lives across the street and almost screamed. She looked distorted, like a critter in a Death Metal music video shot through a fisheye lens. “You’re not looking all that hot yourself – how many vodkas did you knock back last night?” she said indignantly.
I signed up on WhatsApp – at least gory visuals are not involved. It lasted less than a day. I was flooded with messages from most of the people listed on my phone. The plumber wished me ‘Gud mawning Maidum’, the electrician shared a picture of Katrina Kaif in skimpy clothes and the fish man sent me a tasteless joke that stank as much as his wares. That’s when I signed out of WhatsApp, but my friends inform me that I’m still evidently on the server because my name shows up. It’s as creepy as the song Hotel California: ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’ Shudder.
And finally to the burning question of the day: has technology killed romance? Surprise, surprise – I’m not going to bitch and moan about technology here. In fact, I can place my hand on any holy book in any court of law and aver that my relationship with Geek Freak has improved tremendously with technology. We absolutely have no time to bicker or snarl and snap at each other anymore – heck, who has time to even talk these days? Besides icky sticky emotions are not required when cute emoticons say it all and say it better too! Every night, when we retire to the bedroom, Geek Freak gets on his iPad and I get on my laptop. He guffaws at videos of stand-up comics and dogs performing foolish tricks, I giggle at funny posts on Facebook and Twitter. There’s never a dull moment anymore and both of us go to bed smiling.
God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.