SOLSC21, Day 20
“When water remains in one place, it spoils.” – Persian proverb
Change, and I say this at the risk of sounding overly cliched, is the only constant in life. Come to think of it, our parents’ generation has seen a huge sea change in practically everything one can imagine. Like my mom likes to say, “I’ll tell you the stories, but you cannot imagine the way we’ve seen things.” From what she describes, it IS really hard to imagine. She grew up in the ‘60s in partition- and war-ravaged India. She’s seen blackouts, Communist protests, food shortages, riots, unemployment, and struggle. She talks of days when, even if one had the money, one couldn’t buy enough food because it was so strictly rationed. Weddings were held over high tea. Money was scarce. Families were large. Communication and travel were hurdles, rather than conveniences. That was the age of telegrams, trunk calls, tram cars. Only the affluent traveled by plane. Train journeys often lasted 2-3 days. Very few could afford the AC coaches, which were way more expensive than the non-AC ones. She first traveled by plane after I was born, when she first went overseas! She’s seen days before the advent of TV in India. And when it did come, again, very few houses in the neighborhood owned one. The radio remained the popular broadcasting medium.
With globalization and technological advances, things did gradually change. Actually, no. They didn’t gradually change, they changed too fast. Maybe a little too quick. I am sometimes overawed at the spectrum of change that generation has lived through. From no TVs at home to streaming movies on their phones. From booking a trunk call and yelling into the receiver if you did get lucky enough to get through, to video-calling at a voice command. From rationed food supplies to food delivery apps and other online shopping. From listening to the news on a scratchy radio to Alexa and live news, 24/7 if one wants. From power cuts to smart lights and appliances. From tram cars to Uber to self-driven electric cars. From bank ‘passbooks” (these were little books that you periodically took to the bank – an actual brick-and-mortar bank – and that were updated by the bank teller; they’d write by hand your transactions for the previous fortnight or so, and update your account balance in it) to digital payment methods. I wonder how they feel, and how they take it all in.
To top it all off, there’s this pandemic-induced lifestyle which has again upended everyone’s lives in the most unimaginable of ways. My mom says the pandemic reminds her of her grandma, who had lived through the Spanish Flu, and who was very finicky about hand-washing, grocery-washing, and staying away from people who coughed and sneezed. They even had an ‘outhouse’ for visiting relatives who might need to quarantine! I wonder if my yet-unborn grandchildren will remember me that way!
It might be an interesting assignment to ask students to imagine life in the year 2045 and write or draw scenes from that imagined future! What do you think life in 2045 will be like?