World of Fantasy
A few weeks
before my retirement from govt service I requested my daughter
Sweety to make typed copies of my biodata that was running
in to pages. She carried them to her office and by evening
handed over neatly typed copies for my approval. I found them
typed not in the conventional type writer- but printed out
from a computer. However there were a few corrections to be
made and also some additions on second thought. She asked
me to visit her office in the afternoon and sitting by her
side I could make the final version.
I was there punctually as I wanted them readied for dispatch
for my second innings after my retirement. In no time by the
‘click’ of the ‘mouse’ she could ‘retrieve’ my biodata that
was already ‘saved’ in that P.C.
She was using more
such technical terms that I couldn’t decipher at all. She was adding
and deleting on my command in no time and also the numbering, captioning,
star marks etc. were done with precision and fluency reminding me
of the magic wand of a seasoned magician. She also pleaded me not
ask awkward questions in front of her colleagues who had a high
opinion of me. I was so pleased by the outcome of her work which
was presented to me in a booklet form and would go a long way in
impressing my future boss.
As I expected there
was no problem at all for me to get a respectable job in a managerial
level at Chennai. I was given a separate room with my steno and
clerk adjoining my room. Actually I was used to a better surrounding
in my regular service - but without a computer. But my assistant
was a novice not able to fully exploit the improvements of the PC
over a simple typewriter. Time and again he was trying my patience
as I was still in the mesmerized stage of my daughter commanding
the computer with her nibble fingers.
One day one of our valued customers asked for my E-mail address.
Actually I couldn’t understand what it was and how to get one. He
gave his own E-mail ID and requested me to correspond through it
for early and accurate communication. It had become a regular feature
that they insisted on my ID and a few of them even volunteered to
make one for me. I was thoroughly embarrassed by my ignorance of
modern development and I suddenly felt that I was thrown open in
Pacific Ocean forced to mend it myself. My self prestige and dignity
prevented me from asking for help from people around me. I could
feel that they were simply taking this as an advantage in hiding
their own blunders and mistakes. But after some interaction with
my seniors I found most of them were in the identical predicament
having worked for ages when computers were not seen around. But
once it reached in the early 90s it spread like wild fire and anybody
who could not adapt to it were literally tossed up from offices.
Senior citizens in their 60s were caught unaware by this hurricane
and to withstand that onslaught either they had to come out courageously
with confidence and self belief to learn about this ‘helping slave’
or resign to defeat and spend the rest of their lives literally
crippled without the Computer. When I made a short visit to my daughter
at Bhuvaneshwar I was amazed by the fluent handling of the PC by
my grandson who was still below 10. His speed and impatience couldn’t
help me to learn with my systematic approach.
Some how I toiled
for a few more years and was finding the surroundings increasingly
hostile with cell phones and i- pods adding to the agony of
computers. As per the theory of Darwin, for the survival of
the fittest I motivated myself aided by my inbuilt stubbornness
in not admitting defeats.
When I visited the CSC-for computer
education in the early hours on a MONDAY expecting
myself to be the first I was taken aback by a number of cycles
in front of it with a small crowd surging inside. Their age
group was a minimum of 10 to maximum of 20 in equal strength
of boys and girls. At that time I was about 67 to 70 years
– but well dressed with an officer’s look.
The manager at the
counter who was about 30 to 35 years stood up out of reverence for
my age and respectability, requesting me to take a seat. He wanted
to know whether I had brought any of my grand children for admission.
When I nodded in the negative he pleaded his inability to recruit
very senior people for the job of Instructor. When I confirmed that
it was for my own enrolment he pleaded that they didn’t have provision
for highly advanced courses. I lost my patience and with serious
face asserted that I didn’t know even to put or remove a plug of
a computer from its socket –or put it more crudely never ever had
touched a computer in my life. But desire to have the working knowledge
learnt from there. Can you help me or not?
He was visibly shaken
by my emotional outburst and with that excited look. He came to
his self and pleaded to be pardoned with assurance that he would
take as the institutions privilege to impart training to a senior
citizen of my status. He also explained all the regulations and
fee structure and offered a concession of Rs 500/- for those with
75% in class-10 exam. Just more than a half century back in the
year 1953 I had secured 85% in SSLC. Never in my wildest dream I
thought of a situation that my marks at the age of 15 would fetch
me Rs 500/-! A spontaneous smile curled around my lip that was also
having the effect of bringing down the temperament of the Manager
I was taken around the hall that was busy with most of the 30 PCS
under usage. On seeing me almost all of them got up with the chorus
of ‘good morning sir!’- Perhaps having mistaken me as a representative
from the great Bill Gates, of Microsoft!
The manager called an instructor and
in a subdued voice explained about his new ‘candidate’ for training.
On seeing me he became nervous and also hesitant to take that role,
thereupon I had to encourage him and put him at ease with the assurance
that his reputation would be intact. He started his assignment in
good earnest with request to pardon him for poor English and using
Telugu words more often. After some briefing in front of a PC that
was defective, we had to move to another. If I remember correct
we had to hop nearly 4 or 5 machines in one hour of training. The
knowledge gained was more confusing and I returned on the first
day with no better than I was at the time of entering. Still I got
some idea with my experience and imagination. I requested the manager
for a few books for initiation for immediate purchase. I was also
convinced that I must possess my own computer which I acquired in
a couple of days. The whole set of computer, CPU, KEY BOARD, MOUSE,
MIKES and even the table was purchased except the PRINTER.
I was really working
hard day and night with the books and also ably assisted by ‘HELP’
that is part of the machine. The instructor was just showing his
head out of formality as I considered him more of a nuisance than
help. All my doubts were cleared by my own efforts by persistently
exhausting all possibilities and I also stumbled upon the remarkable
truth that knowledge gained in this process is more ever lasting
and encouraging your own original thinking. Just 3 aspects were
needed to grasp the computer in its order—Motivation, Perseverance,
and Limitless Time. From the pains of learning I was entering the
pleasure part when I was really enjoying
interacting with this remarkable invention of modern age. My thirst
to know more was ever increasing and I also found that with the
increasing advancement the thirst would persist and scope of subsiding
never exists as the improvements were going on side by side regularly.
During my initial days at the institute, young boys and girls would
approach me for help mistaking me for an instructor. I had to plead
ignorance and admit that I was a novice. But after a few days I
could really teach a few of them which was not liked by the instructors.
Meanwhile I acquired a good typing speed. It is but natural that
I could easily write on various topics on Earth. My job was to load
all the PCS with articles on varying subjects in the MS WORD. Such
topics were of great use for the learners and the organizers requested
me to store more information that could be utilized for the trainees.
Mean while my trainer was basking in my glory claiming about his
achievement in making me perfect at the shortest time.
I was enjoying innovative painting/drawing through the ‘paints’.
I was trying different styles of ‘fonts’ of varying sizes. The ‘icing
of the cake’ was done when I got the BSNL-BROAD BAND, my own e-mail
ID, and a few soft wares like Mozilla Firefox , Picassa - 2 were
down loaded. One day I could successfully Download Google-earth
and also Google stars. It was funny to fly place to place on earth
and see the Paris Tower etc by sitting at the arm chair
that was recorded through satellite images. My correspondence through
postal made its exit and every day I had to e-mail letters to my
daughters and even to my grand children. At some stage I was considered
as a nuisance amongst friends and relatives as I was collecting
their e-mail id and discussed a lot about the PC. I was particular
to send e- mail greetings for birth days, weddings and all sorts
of events. Now I am able to get a peep to any book on earth of different
sciences, culture, and religion. In short what was done earlier
through libraries wasting time and energy to get particular information
is done more emphatically with photos and illustrations that could
be printed out. Yes! I also got a printer through which I got my
letters neatly typed adding novelty and originality. Now all my
banking is done E- way and the stock market dealings are ably executed
through internet only. Last but not the least the ‘chatting’, ‘web
camera’, ‘photo sharing’ etc takes the major portion of association
with this machine.
There were a few letters to be written to my sister and others urgently
from a place other than my residence. More out of compulsion than
by choice I had to switch back to the old tradition of pen and paper.
I was startled to notice that my hand was not at all moving over
the paper which was a child’s play in my earlier days. Suddenly
I could realize that I was crippled and badly needed a PC. My mind
was clouded with depression when I recalled my earlier days when
I could write effortlessly either English or Tamil with speed and
accuracy in well settled hand writing. For the first time I repented
for the huge price I had to pay in surrendering my originality and
turned into a SLAVE to a machine. There was a personal pride and
achievement in collecting information from libraries and other sources
as there was a stamp of individuality in whatever you did with your
own effort. Now any student can steal any answer for any question
from the internet that could fetch him even Doctorate. All original
contributions in any art or culture may be stolen globally and passed
on as somebody’s product. Latest music, film and art are easily
down loaded cheating the author thereby causing great loss.
All said and done I have become addicted to the PC. Every time relatives
and guests knock at the door my wife responds that I am deeply routed
in my revolving chair with the starry look in front of the screen.
Many of them are also leveling questions to my better half about
the work that is engaging me all the time at this advanced age.
I am certainly aware of my great loss in not spending more time
with nature, family and grand children. Also the diseases associated
with permanent exposition to computers are alarming. Any way, at
a certain period of time I want to escape from the clutches of this
Mohini and addiction. To whom I will seek the guidance or advice?
Yes! There could be only one who may help me out through global
authors and philosophers. I hope and wish you know the answer. You
are correct. I have to search the internet through the world of
J. PANCHAPAGESAN DSP-RETD, CHENNAI