There was this time when things were simple in contrast to the ease of doing things today. Let me tell you a short story from the late eighties and early nineties. Some technologies created the need, some were created out of need. But some experiences are hard-coded.
My grandfather, retired personnel from UPSC, was my go-to man for my urge to hear more about the world and look at the world through his lens. He told me never-ending gripping stories, some pure fiction, some mythology and some about the days during World Wars. I looked at him in awe as he wore his white dial, leather strap analogue HMT watch (those days quartz wrist watches was a fashion statement), took me with him once a week to the post office or nearest red-colour letter box to post in-land or post cards to his relatives in Kolkata. He had one bank, Union Bank of India where I used to accompany him to see ‘how is banking done’. There was a queue, but that queue was pleasant, strangers became acquaintances and time flew by till our turn came – either to deposit a cheque or to withdraw cash. Updating passbook had a separate queue. A quick chat with the Bank Manager who used to come out of his cabin off and on to check everything in order.
Once back, I used to call up my neighbourhood friends from our landline to meet. Our favourite pastime was music and it was serious business. It entailed who has purchased the latest cassette of Dire Straits, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Pink Floyd. Only one of our friends at that time had a Philips music system with dual cassette system- one slot for recording. Most of my pocket money in those days was saved for buying ‘blank’ Maxell cassettes so that I can record them from my friend with my favourite assorted tracks starting from Nazia Hassan to Ustad Zakir Hussain to Iron Maiden. My ‘Canada uncle’ as I know him since then, one day called and asked, ‘What so you want for your birthday?’ I said ‘Uncle, please send me a set of 5 black Maxell cassettes.’ He did send but he was surprised by my ‘ask’. By this time, you would know that I was much more into music than sports.
Once, my school friend told me – ‘hey; have you watched these four movies -Guns of Navarone, The Goonies, Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom’ and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly? I am like- but I don’t have a VCR. He said something like- ‘rent a VCR and I will give you the video cassettes. I did this like a rendezvous at home and that was ‘happiness’ for me. People still ask me, ‘Why are you up at 4am daily? Humans don’t wake up at 4am!’ I tell people, that’s a pattern I inculcated during college days. Like sunset has its own vibe, so does dawn. I got this habit from well, yes, my grandfather who used to tell me ‘If you want to see a different world, come with me for ‘dawn walk’. We used to go and keep our milk bottle in the cue at the Mother Diary booth (about half a kilometre away from home) and then spend some time at the nearby temple chatting with his friends , deity ‘Kali Maa’ and Lord Shiva and then come back to collect the milk bottles.
One of the sweetest moments were when we used to book a ‘Trunk- call’ and it was always hilarious to hear both sides shouting long ‘Hello’ atleast 3 times and the whole call going at top voice! Well, this part may sound similar today as well in not so good network zones.
Those days there was a practice of gifting each other ‘dress material’ vis-à-vis ready-made clothes. Just before the Durga Puja every year, my walk to the nearby ‘vastralaya’ to buy dress material (that time it was primarily Vimal or Raymond) and I only knew ‘cotton’. I didn’t understand much of linen and stuff. And then, to the tailor, then wait a week or so for new shirts and new trousers! That wait was bliss in a way considering the anticipation.
Since then, been a plethora of technologies including the mobile phone revolution that has made things so much easier for us! Today, to buy something or to eat something specific, it is just a click away on the so called ‘Mobile App’. If my grandfather was here today and I would have told him ‘Daadu- do you want to see some magic? At the click of a button I can get you books, cab, food, clothes, movies, and a new centre table as well’. Ofcourse he would have been extremely happy and pleasantly surprised. Not to mention a camera without a film roll! Those days we had one of the best ones in manual -Yashica, the Japanese brand.
The difference between analogue and digital technologies is that in analogue, information is translated into electric pulses of varying amplitude. In digital, the translation of information is into binary format (zero or one) where each bit is representative of two distinct amplitudes. On one hand it has immensely shaped up how human beings interact with their environment while some technologies created the need, some were created out of need, however, some experiences are hard-coded. And that’s the analogue of things. I feel thankful to have these wonderful experiences within my DNA.
Written by Ankoor Dasguupta, Vice President- Brands, Marketing & Special Projects at SHEROES.