Epiphoney Columns

Relationships of convenience

Remember when friends with benefits was a thing? Well, with most of us confined to the odd few square meters, it has changed what the world perceives as beneficial. Straight off the bat I can surmise and tell you this — there are no benefits to be had from leather shoes and skinny jeans… or bras, for that matter.

So what has delivered the most calming and satiating of sensations during these last few months? Humans are infallibly failing in their nature (a paradox, I know), meaning that no matter how well you know someone, chances are you’ll get to know them too well and that is familiarity nobody should have to afford. Dogs are a shade better, but since lockdown happened during the shedding season, they slipped down a few ranks, sadly.

What then has been my karma-positive interactions during these days of deathly dullness, when the only thing more scarce than available work has been the desire to commit to it? I’ll tell you: technology. Electro-thingamajigs — that’s where I’ve ended up parking my faith these last few months. Without them, life would be lifeless.

Headphones: The trick with buying a toy as an adult is that you have to make it sound like a sensible, family-oriented decision rather than a personal whimsical impulse. I think the only reason most grown ups have children is to be able to write off a lot of purchases by misdirecting the attribution. Fair trade, I say. My Jabra 45E headset has helped me seamlessly stay connected, but more pertinently, it has helped me disconnect from the quotidian ennui called family. Nobody talks to you when you have a large headset sat across your head; you don’t even have to switch it on. Just look busy and you can potter about all day as if in the throes of some unending webinar all while enjoying your favourite Dylan compilation, oops, I meant playlist.

Modem: Stomach is passé; the way to anyone’s heart nowadays is through fibre optics routed via WiFi. This inconspicuous device, Netgear Nighthawk as it goes by, lies in one corner of our homes, a footprint no wider than an Idaho potato, and yet is dearer to us than the first draft of our democratic Constitution. The internet has mixed up being lonely and alone so well that today most of us pride ourselves on our personality flaws. When was the last time anyone was chided for being online too long? Hotel, home or hospital, a wide spectrum WiFi is more pertinent than intravenous medicine or running water. You’d sooner slash a man’s jugular than his main fibre connection. In fact, go for the latter and you’ll leave no trace of the crime at all.

Vacuum cleaner: There is no joy in tidying up; even if you fashion yourself after ol’ Freddie and crank out “I want to break free”. Two-and-a-half minutes later you’ll be left wondering what was the point anyway. Well, think of a Dyson V11 then not as a cleaning device but as a philosophy guru. It will bring a sense of purpose to walking around the house trying to suck up dirt. It feels cool, like a new remote control car feels cool. It hums just like Back to the Future told us the future would hum. We all love gadgets more than appliances and this here, it is a gadget-lover magnet. And it leaves the house spotlessly clean, which might also give those darned shed-buckets of dogs a case to win back some favour with me.

This column is for anyone who gives an existential toss.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 11:48:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/relationships-of-convenience/article32811240.ece

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