Thursday, October 08, 2009

Nostalgia.... again

Nostalgia: An activity that allows us to recollect the events of the past and extract all that was good, enjoyable or peculiar about them. It takes me away from the realities of the present into a world that was simple and enjoyable. Where pressures didn't seem to matter and failure was just another part of life. Where facilities were premium and the efforts taken to access those form part of folk lore today.

It was just yesterday, that I slipped into dreaming about the yester-years, while travelling in the local train. I was lucky to get a comfortable seat, facing the direction of travel. If you sit facing the direction of travel, no matter how packed the local train is, a cool wind always manages to go past you, thus keeping you comfortable. Coming back to the nostalgia part. While I was enjoying the cool breeze caused by a combination of rain and the local's motion, my cell phone began to ring incessantly. It jolted me out from the meanderings of my mind. It was my cousin, who wanted to know where I am. After I answered her call, I started wondering about what all losses has the cell-phone revolution caused?

First and foremost, that came to my mind was the STD/ISD booths. I am not even going back to the days of trunk-calls, because the STD facility killed the need for trunk calls. Thank Sam Pitroda for that. Making an STD call was a group event. I do not remember a single instance, when I've gone to make a call alone. In those days, we used to queue outside the STD booth to make calls at home. The half, one-third and one-fourth rate rules meant that calls would be made and received at unearthly hours. And in small towns, the STD shop would close by 11 PM, meaning we couldn't utilise the one-fourth rate facility. We used to decide a time with parents and then call them up. As a student, I couldn't spend too much at that time. So, calling parents was restricted to once or twice a week. Sunday used to be the day, as it used to be half-rate through the day, with one-third, one-fourth rules applied as usual. There used to be these stuffy phone-booths, in which, there used to be a useless exhaust fan and the basic DTMF telephone. Somewhere in the late 90s and early 2000s, atleast in Pune, there was an experiment with what ever called as "ZIP Phones". These phones, installed in STD booths, had some electronics into them. They had an on-board LCD screen. So, the number and the time would be displayed on a part of the LCD screen. The rest of the screen would display advertisements of various kinds. The advertisements were changed on a frequent basis. Now, STD booths have become a rare sight.

Secondly, the anonymity of our location has gone. Of course, it could scare the parents, especially in case of an emergency, but then there was no way they could force you to change plans. I remember, once I'd gone to the British Library, without informing anybody. And they were all worried when I returned back home, almost two hours after my usual returning time. But, as I mentioned in the opening of this post, today anybody can call us anytime and the chances of lying are low.

Third, it has taken the adventure out of searching addresses. If you get lost, just pick the mobile, call your host, tell the location and get your way to the destination. But it wasn't easy back then. You had to find a PCO phone, then dial the number and get instructions within two minutes. Or talk to irksome shopkeepers or strangers to get the required directions. Or, just deduce the directions on your own.

Of course, cell-phone revolution has brought a sea of change in the communication sphere. Today, even the very remote parts of the country can be reached on phone. As BSNL and Deepika Padukone would like us to believe, "Hindustan bol raha hai!!" But then, along with bringing a lot of good things, it has suppressed a few good things of the past and brought in a few bad things too.
Nostalgia.... againSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

1 comment:

  1. You know the etymology of the word Nostalgia is the Greek 'nostos' meaning home-coming. I wonder: Why nostalgia is only made of lovely things. We seldom get nostalgic about loss, pain, etc.
    You're absolutely right about the cool breeze in the direction of travel. i always sit like that and pass on the secret to others too.