Never ask, “Oh, why were things so much better in the old days?” It's not an intelligent question.
Ecclesiastes7:10 (Holy Bible)
Recently, I met my schoolmate Krishna. It is almost 50 years since we were classmates at school. Krishna recalled the “good old days” at school. “Remember our pen pal Davis in Australia?” he reminded me. “Now he is working in the U.S. — I am in touch with him on Facebook,” he added.
This set me thinking. Were those really “good old days”? True, we had a great time playing in the mud, walking to school and collecting stamps. We used to make notebooks out of the unused pages of the previous year's books. The pencils were used to the hilt by attaching the stub to a hollow bamboo stick. The nearby factory was our timekeeper with its timely sirens. We never missed owning a watch. But now I feel we have missed a lot. Take the case of roti or food. I remember the days of guest control. It used to be an offence to travel with rice. We had to walk a kilometre to buy milk — that too standing in long queues. Everything was rationed. Now, after the ‘green' and ‘white' revolutions, food has never been a problem.
It's a similar case with kapada or clothing. A shirt or trouser had to be stitched by a tailor. Popular brands like Binny or Mafatlal dress material were bought and given for tailoring. After a few trials and alterations, the sartorial prowess of the tailor would manifest. Now, perfectly fitting, stylish readymades are available off the shelf.
As for makaan or housing, gone are the days of leaky thatched or tiled roofs. No more burning the midnight oil — electricity is now available everywhere. Infrastructure has developed amazingly. Truly, we have graduated from the ‘bullock cart' age to the ‘space age'.
The revolution in information technology has made life much easier. In the 50s, getting a telephone connection was a Herculean task. Making a long distance trunk call was an ordeal. Now buying a telephone with connection is as simple as buying a candy from a roadside shop! The cheaper mode of communication was by post. Now with the Internet, communication has become simpler, faster and cheaper. The movie endings of yesteryear would have been different if the protagonists had mobile phones! The black and white TV sets have given way to multichannel colour TV sets.
Doordarshan has given way to many interesting channels. My spiritual life has also improved — thanks to the Gospel TV channels. Pastors like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer helped me understand Jesus better and apply the Christian principles for victorious day-to-day living. Sociologically, we have improved greatly. I remember the India-Pakistan war with blackouts, air raid warnings and tracer bullets streaking the skies. Now, we are living in relatively peaceful times.
While we were in Bombay travelling to our hometown Tiruvalla, Kerala was an ordeal. Booking a train ticket was a one-day procedure. Travel to Tiruvalla involved getting into a compartment to Ernakulam attached to the Madras Express. These compartments were detached at Arakonam for a long halt of about eight hours. We would have lunch at the Alakapuri hotel outside the station. We could also have a bath at the station as we would be covered with soot spewed by the steam engine. Finally, these compartments would be attached to the Kerala Express coming from Madras. This would take us to Ernakulam where we got down. Here we have to wait for a metre-gauge train to Quilon. This train would take us to Tiruvalla. Now travel has become easier. Same is true of banking and other services. The list is long. Every aspect of human life has improved.
In the old days writing this article would be thus: It would be manually typed on paper using my Hermes portable typewriter. A mistake in a page would entail retyping the entire page! Finally, the article would be posted hoping to reach the editor's desk in a week's time. Now, I have even gone past the computer stage. This article is probably the first to be composed and sent on the go from a Galaxy Note mobile phone using handwriting recognition technology. That is the best of both the worlds. I thank God for these better new days. Of course, the best is yet to come.
(The writer's email is: firstname.lastname@example.org)