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The dulled click-clack

Man typing on an old typewriter

Man typing on an old typewriter  

Days have changed with the advent of computers that edit, modify, check spellings and give alternatives to what we want to write

Recently, I visited a typewriting institute that still exists on the main road of busy Pondy Bazaar at T. Nagar in Chennai. It’s the same place where I did my course and passed the lower grade examination in English and Tamil in April 1963. The institute established in 1951 is being run by its founder’s heirs. The present owner felt immensely happy to find an old student remembering it after 57 years.

I well remember the day of examination held in the nearby Ramakrishna Mission High School (Main) near Panagal Park on a heavy rainy day. My seat was near a window, and my fingers were shivering in the cold. Anyway, god was by my side, and I was called for the mechanism test. During this technical interview, when the examiner asked me the name of a particular part of the machine, I honestly told him that I knew the name but forgot then. The examiner repeatedly asked me whether I knew the name or not, but my answer was firm. He could not control his laughter and patted me for my innocent reply.

Later, when I got selected as an office clerk in Southern Railway that year, the dealing clerk advised me to develop my typing skills to help my career. This helped me a lot in my official life for nearly four decades.

By god’s grace, at this age of 75, my fingers are strong enough to use both computer and typewriter. Much before the advent of computers, typewriting machines ruled for decades. It was a symbol of professional and technical proficiency of an educated person. “Shorthand” was an additional qualification to get elevated as stenographer or personal secretary. Popularly known as “High Court typists”, many professional experts had extraordinary typing speed, using just a finger or two. At times, this boon became a bane, for the boss would know whether the typist is on the job or not, by the machine’s sound or silence.

It was not uncommon in those days of typists rising to high positions by their hard work and commitment. Days have changed with the advent of computers that edit, modify, check spellings and give alternatives to what we want to write.

mageshkumaradithya@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 4:03:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-dulled-click-clack/article31259480.ece

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