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The 2G way of life

From borrowed books to hand-me-down clothes, once you sign up for the old, there’s no looking ahead

brunch Updated: Nov 19, 2017 10:30 IST
Rehana Munir
Rehana Munir
Hindustan Times
The 2G way of life,2G life,technology
Technology has revolutionised our lives, but not everyone has the tech temperament.(Photo Imaging: Parth Garg)

A writer friend, in his 30s like me, once came up with an interesting observation. “You’ve noticed how our parents’ generation spend a lot of time at the bank. What’s that about?” A theatre friend knowledgably replied, “They like to visit their money.”

I smiled a secret smile as they joked about updating ‘passbooks’ and writing ‘self cheques’, phrases that millennials can add to their dictionary of curiosities along with ‘landlines’ and ‘fountain pens’. I didn’t let on that I could be counted amongst the 60-somethings when it comes to the ways of the Brave New Digital World. I have a 2G phone connection. Do not (know how to) use Internet banking. And WhatsApp is the only app I use on my phone.

“The point is – we exist. The invisible millions in the below-40 demographic who have access to every advancement, but would rather not take it”

Before you abandon this column in distaste and brand me a Luddite-Contrarian-Commie (Rajkummar Rao can play me in the film), allow me to explain. Yes, technology has revolutionised our lives, and I’m grateful for every meaningful progress. But not everyone has the tech temperament. Nor the desire to go all digital.

Take e-readers, for instance. You think of a writer, wonder about a book, and there it is, literally at your fingertips. But I’ve always browsed used book stores, or exchanged books with friends. My books inevitably return bearing coffee stains, boarding passes and other reminders of their journey. Those who borrow my books find embarrassing squiggles and the occasional marginalia. Yes, the love of quaintness runs out when plot unravellings are obscured by haldi stains. But even these disasters tend to age well.

He who shall not be named

Call it a philosophy or a temperament. If the new is not your thing, you have the back catalogue of the centuries to pick from. From hand-me-down clothes to borrowed books and from leftover meals to transplanted flowers, once you sign up for the old, there’s no looking forward.

I agree that the style has its setbacks. Standing in sordid queues to pay phone or electricity bills. Waiting for the rain to stop and a kaali-peeli cab to magically appear. Navigating Andheri East without GPS. My tribe does negotiate hell on a day-to-day basis. But I should like to think there is some nobility in this. And courage. Though in my case, it’s not courage but a level of tech phobia worthy of a Stephen King novel.

My paternal grandmother had an inordinate fear of electrical appliances. She heated her bath water over the stove for as long as she lived and said the word ‘gadget’ like students at Hogwarts would say ‘Voldemort’. My father regularly sent me blank texts from the relic he called his phone. He also famously saved phone numbers in his diary, unaccompanied by names. And my mother still warms up her TV before her favourite show begins, and treats the AC and microwave like ticking bombs.

“While the powers that be are hell-bent on replacing human contact with digital transactions, we march bravely on, with our unplanned interactions and disregard for convenience. The Anachronistic Anarchists.”

The anachronistic anarchists

To this I add my own list of shame. I’ve never operated a kitchen mixer or a pressure cooker – there’s too much, err, pressure. I struggle to steer a trolley at the supermarket, let alone getting behind a driving wheel. And when demonetisation hit, I used cheques wherever I could.

The point is – we exist. The invisible millions in the below-40 demographic who have access to every advancement, but would rather not take it. We’re neither on LinkedIn nor on Instagram. We walk to the sabzi wala for our laukis and baigans, because that’s so much simpler than ordering online or even on the phone. (How do you know what you need unless you see it on the shelf or cart?) We share articles from five years ago and dress like we did 15 years ago. If this all sounds like a stereotype from our parents’ generation, then I wear it proudly as a badge of continuity.

While the powers that be are hell-bent on replacing human contact with digital transactions, we march bravely on, with our unplanned interactions and disregard for convenience. The Anachronistic Anarchists. It’s obscene how we carry on. (We’ve tried to organise a meeting for years, but no one shows up.) Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to walk to my bank and request a cheque book.

From HT Brunch, November 19, 2017

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First Published: Nov 18, 2017 21:35 IST