TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

The Bridge Generation

This is not the silent wailing of a man in his mid-thirties.

This is about the amazement of how much this world has changed in the last 15 years. It makes me feel that my generation is truly the ‘bridge generation’ between the analogue and digital world. Almost like seeing the seed grow into a tree! We have seen things that the newer generation cannot identify with, much less think about it.

Take quartz wrist watches. They had to be hand-wound. Every day, I would see my father wind up his watch that would tick on for the next 24 hours. These days wrist watches operate on body heat or are usually battery operated that last you a couple of years. This is what I mean.

I can now think back and remember most things that would seem alien to the present generation. Don’t blame them, though. The best they have seen is an i-pod and not the bulky, wired up walkman’s we used to have back in the 80’s.

Let’s take TV next. Contrary to popular belief, television does not come from a hole wired in the drawing room. Now that brings back many memories. Flashback to the 80’s. Black and white, convex-lensed and encased in a wooden box, with a shutter to open and close! Pre-historic, it sounds and looks as well. A tuning dial had to be very carefully operated, in case the single channel transmission got lost in some ferocious white noise. Each time the TV was switched on, you would have to give it some warm-up time before you could actually sit down to watch your favourite programme. And how can you forget the vertical ‘picture dancing’ like watching a transparent elevator in slow speed or the horizontal break dancing disturbances as well. That was when one had to make a quick trip to the terrace to adjust the antenna.

Antenna? What’s that?

I was enjoying the incredulous expressions on the youngsters’ faces that were fascinated by these tales. Every TV had an antenna. Remember those 7 stick ones? Every terrace in town was dotted with them. They were also magnets for kites, the non-bird types. So each time a kite would get entangled, or a crow would alight or the wind was too strong, the TV transmission would go kaput and one would have to turn the direction of the antenna towards the transmission tower. It was a guessing game. That was how things happened then.

Going cellular was another chapter! Europe went cellular in 1985 and around the same time the first non-commercial mobile telephone service started in New Delhi. Commercially, the services saw the light of the day, years later. And when it did, only a few managed to get the Siemens or Ericsson handsets that resembled an armyman’s walkie-talkie. In fact, if aimed well and thrown with a good arm, those mobile handsets could have been good weapons as well. My first was a Nokia that resembled a dumbbell. It was heavy and the screen was monotone green. Watch any Michael Douglas film and see him talk to a ‘brick’ – that is what I mean! Initially the call-outs were so expensive that people developed the habit of giving a missed call and then waiting for the other person to call back, from a landline connection!

The progress report of amazement goes on!

Imagine travelling in trains pulled by steam locomotives!

Imagine having a shower in an aeroplane!

Imagine writing with an ink pen with a suction ink tank and cleaning the nib with blotting paper!

Imagine computers with a black and green screen with no graphics!

Imagine cameras with films and the two-day wait to see what you have clicked!

Imagine ‘liking’ something or sending a virtual birthday cake!

Imagine visiting the ship-wreck in Bermuda and then sands of Egypt, in an instant!

The new world looks beautiful and amazing from the eyes of this retro-man.     

Friday, 30 July 2010

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