Friday, February 12, 2010

Parents and Technology

It was the year 2000, when PCs were becoming affordable and the first time I sat at my computer at home, I felt like a space scientist in front of the panel (you have to imagine one of those sci-fi movies with nerds who eat and sleep in front of the monitors) and I had just opened MS word to type an email (those were the days where you type elsewhere and do a copy paste since you did not want the phone line to be busy for a long time and have your parents yell at you for that !) and did not notice appa walk in to the room. He had been observing me for a while, and then remarked ''nee en ivalo slowa type panra'' (why are you typing so slowly?) and I remonstrated with passion ''idhu onnum slow illa, en ganglaye naan dhan fasta type pannuven, unnala idhu kooda mudiyadhu'' (This is not slow, I am the fastest one in the group and you can't do any better).

He just smiled and left and I made a mental note that I would prove that I do type faster. The next day, I was typing a SOP (statement of purpose) from some notes I had made in the college bus and I left it midway to attend a call. I come back to find appa almost having finished the SOP and I was gaping at the feverish speed he was typing in.

He grinned mischievously and said ''You forget that almost everyone in my generation learnt typing and the keyboard is no different from a typewriter'' and went away humming ''enkitta modadhe.....'' and enakku 1000 watts bulb erinjidhu !

Although I have lost patience, unreasonably, with amma and appa many times while trying to explain to them today's technology, I would also be amazed at how much they cope with at their age, given their limited time and exposure. Appa takes the cake here.

I went home in 2005 after nearly 3 years and having enjoyed a home-meal, I was talking with appa when he says ''Can you help me with my LAN settings??''....I blink at his usage of the word LAN for obvious reasons, while he continues, much to my chagrin and amusement, ''LAN na local area network''...I laughed out loud and asked him why and he goes to explain how he had set up two computers at home - one for my brother and one for himself and how they were using a router so that both computers would have access to the internet. Clean Bowled.

Both amma and appa take computer as well as internet lessons at work since they have to cope with computerized systems and yes, they do frustrate me at times asking me to explain how drag and drop works (ada rama...) but when I look at some of the unbelievably dumb questions I get from this generation, I tell myself that I have to give them credit.

Amma is stubborn about her mailbox messages. Any time she calls me and gets my mailbox, she says ''amma calling'' in a very strict robotic tone and hangs up....ROFL ! Once she did that to me thrice on a work day and when I called back I was so anxious as to what was going on and when I heard that her cousin's son was getting married, I snapped.

idhuku dhan ivalo vaati phone panniya ? idha messagela sollalam illa ? idhukaga naan office lerndhu kavala pattu phone pannen - Is that why you called ? Couldn't you have left this as a message ? I had to call from work since I was worried

and she replies in a confused tone
mailbox kitta sonna epdi unkitta solra madhri irukkum ? - how is talking to a mailbox the same as talking to you

and all I managed to say was hehehe, nee irukiye.....

And then there is the chat. Many people, I have noticed, fail to grasp the meaning of chat. The reason I chat and not call is because (ofcourse the former is free) chat allows one to multi-task and you can get other things done while still chatting with someone. It completely annoys me when someone asks, you there or you busy when I haven't replied within the minute - defeats the whole purpose. Of course there are times when you need to be 100% there but not for every ''how are you'' chat. This is why it was amazing when appa was chatting with me and didn't ask ''you there'' even once !! He would type really long messages (he is good at typing, remember?) and assume I would either read it then or later as offlines - perfect !

Last week, he hit a new high when I sent him an email and received the following response:

Hello Sowmya Gopal,
I've received your message entitled "oru mukiyamana matter". I wanted to let you know that you're on my Priority Guest List. Boxbe helps me manage my email by prioritizing messages from people I know. You'd be amazed at how much better my inbox is now. This is the only email you will receive about Boxbe from me and there is no need to respond.
Learn more about Boxbe.
Thank you,
VGopal

ROFL...ROFL....Idhu konjam over, illa ?
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