Calmer, but still festering

The contents of a “Madras Pavilion” South Indian Thali considerably lighter, and my stomach considerably fuller, am in a better mood than I was a couple of hours ago. My emotions have proceeded from shock (on last count, at least 16 of my folders have ceased to exist), rage (information painstakingly collected / created over the last 12 months has moved to some electronic twilight zone, never to be seen again, except perhaps in dreams, nightmares or alcohol induced stupors), relief (thank God that I lost the stuff that I did, and not other way-more-important stuff), self-pity (why did it have to happen to me?), guilt (what if it’s bad karma – I have been ignoring friends way too long, claiming to be dying at work, and this is all nature’s way of showing me that I cannot continue to use work as an excuse to not live), to, finally, acceptance (this is a bad thing to’ve happened, but hey, it’s not the end of the world, and I still got my really important stuff, and yes, I WILL BACKUP from now onwards).

As I write this, I realize that this particular frustration wouldn’t have existed as short as a decade ago – at least not if you worked for a good old PSU in Hindoostan. My dad did not work with a computer till a few short years ago, and even then, he had folks who did the pecking at the keyboards – he didn’t personally work with a computer until he retired.

What would constitute a typical bad-day-at-work in those days? You type up a whole page just to make a typo in the very last word? The cyclostyle machine eats up your template / sheet thingy? The room with all your filing cabinets burns down? The dog eats your file? Having worked for just 4 years, it’s difficult for me to imagine a work place without computers.

Having said that, I admit I’m a technophobe. Till a few short years ago, I was writing letters – yes, those thoughtful, personal compositions you take the trouble to hand-write, find envelopes and stamps for, and yes, the most challenging bit – remember to post! After 2 years of getting nothing but emails in response, I gave up.

How has technology improved our lives? Yes, I know all about the savings in time and money and effort and what not. What I want to know is where is all this extra time & money I save by not doing things “manually” going? I work just as long as my dad used to, for even less money. Where are the “real” benefits? Can I say, “thanks to computers, I now get an extra hour of sleep every day” or “thanks to computers, I now get an extra week of vacation every year”? No – what I can say is “thanks to damn laptops, I can now carry my work with me on my vacation!” Yippee!

I did not take to reading off a computer easily. For months, I used to print stuff out, and my desk would be buried under old print-outs… I would print stuff out for work, and I would print out articles to read when I got home. And somewhere between drowning in loose sheets of paper with just the third and seventh pages of a great article, and, guilt over the growing conviction that I was wiping off entire rain forests single-handedly, I learnt to read on the computer.

And access to more stuff to read is about the only thing I’m grateful to technology for. I was able to read the New Yorker & NY Times & The Atlantic Monthly [before they went subscription-only :((( ], and The Guardian, and oh so many other fantastic newspapers & magazines even though I was living in a hole located somewhat close to Delhi – a place called Gurgaon (which has since considerably improved)… And now that I have moved to another hole located somewhat close to Dallas – a place called Frisco (which is not likely to improve in the near future), I can still find out things like Rahul Bose’s having a retrospective in Geneva (go Rahul!) or catch up with what used to be my Sunday morning routine – reading the magazine section of The Hindu – columns by Sevanti Ninan or Shashi Tharoor, and learning to avoid reading the horoscope (somehow The Hindu’s horoscopes never have the same this-is-crap-and-therefore-it-is-fun quality that Times of India so effortlessly achieves).

Ah well, everything has its good points and bad. And frankly, I’m just tired of it. I want life to be simple – what’s so bad about black & white? You either hate something or you love it. Yes, today’s incident continues to fester away in some corner of what’s left of my brain on a Friday night or rather Saturday at 1:30 in the AM. So, I will stop typing, turn off this Swedish movie (or whatever it is!) that’s been playing on IFC, put the pint of frozen vanilla yoghurt away, and hit the bed. I have a new issue of the New Yorker to curl up to.

Nighty night.

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3 comments so far

  1. Karthik on

    Hey, I tagged you with the book-meme thing that’s been going around. Would love to see the books you list…

  2. Karthik on
  3. jon on

    monthly horoscope info is so cheesy but we were looking at it anyway…why i dont know. I guess it is fun to play around online. Anyway, I saw your monthly horoscope posts and though it was cool…Alright, well…have a great night, I am back to monthly horoscope surfing LOL : )

    Jon


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