Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Things We Own

It used to be a much simpler world, but then man evolved and so did his needs, then there were men of much greater intelligence amongst us who invented materials which we never thought would exist.  Would a Neanderthal living in the Stone Age have ever wondered how he will ever get rid of the long stresses of hair that has grown all over his head, and also his bushy chest? Would a college professor in the 60’s have ever wondered how he would gather his teaching materials on Electromagnetic Radiation just by going through all those never ending pages of an old fat book that was gathering dust at the library? Would a commuter in the crowded local trains in the 80’s have ever wondered if his rustic radio would ever play the songs that he wanted to listen to and not some bhoole bisre geet that some RJ was playing? Many centuries and a few years after that, these men did get their reply. The Neanderthal, who has now evolved into cargos and t-shirt wearing youngster, has a got a Hair Trimmer as the answer to all his problems, the college professor in the 60’s is now a hep and happening educationalist who tweets college syllabuses and solves the doubts of his students on Facebook, the haggard commuter is now a middle aged man returning from work in a crowded local train who doesn’t mind giving away his seat because he has an I-pod plugged in his ears that plays the songs that he wants. Deep down he must be thanking Steve Jobs for it. We all got what we wanted, and we haven’t had enough. Michael Jackson had once crooned “Don’t stop till you get enough” maybe because he knew that the human race is hard to please. We can’t have enough of love, we can’t have enough of memory space in our PCs and we can’t have enough of making life simple for ourselves. We just want more. A Blackberry was not enough, so came the I-touch. Numbered keypads became passé and touch keypads became the “in thing”. Books occupy too much space, the Kindle has become the new Book. We don’t want to kick start our bikes, we want our engines to roar by the push of a button.  We don’t write our opinions about current affairs to editors of news magazines, we tweet them in the virtual world, a world where everyone can share their opinion uncensored. 

Ayudha pooja is one of those days where we acknowledge the fact how simple our lives are made by these materials. It may sound silly to someone alien to our customs to know that we perform a pooja for our material possessions so that they keep working longer without any wear and tear. “Wouldn’t a regular servicing and oiling of the appliance suffice?” they may ask.  But it is more than applying kumkum and chandan to our television, motor vehicles and computers. It is paying a tribute to these machines on which our livelihood depends. Newspapers tomorrow won’t be circulating their Sunday edition because their giant publishing machines would be taking a break from printing out news, car drivers would clean their car, shine them till sun rays bounce off their bonnet and adorn their car with garland, much like a family that dresses up the groom and the bride on the day of their wedding. The “Next” showrooms the “Big Bazaars” would have done pooja on their refrigerators and microwave ovens so that they find a good kitchen to be in. The relationship we have with the materials we own is much like being in a relationship with a person. It is emotional, it needs regular attention, and you never know when things go wrong with it, and when things go wrong we end up heartbroken.
Here is a list of secret prayers that I had murmured whilst doing a pooja for the things that I own and have grown dependent on. 

Hair Trimmer:  “May your blades never go blunt, may you keep on whirring nonstop while you do away with all my facial hair and may your batteries be recharged at all times. Thank you for making me look so handsome presentable”.

ADSL Modem: “Dear internet modem. Stop being so unresponsive like those BSNL guys and please get connected on time, and when you do, may your speed never diminish and may you download movies within four hours”.

I-Pod: “My faithful I-pod, thank you for making my work life bearable, may you have a longer battery life and hope there comes a day when I fill all of your 160 GB with songs and movies. I love you more than anything else, but do not tell my mobile and trimmer that I told you so!”

Panasonic 42-Inch Plasma Screen: “Dear big ass giant screen T.V. You have been my friend, my mother and my teacher over the years. You have been caring like my friend, patient like my mother, and have taught me a lot of unwanted stuff like a teacher though I still don’t know in which channel Nat geo and Discovery are on. It is always nice to see pretty women in big screen T.V, they all look so……. BIG!”

Mobile Phone: “Dear Nokia 3110-C, it’s been four years since I bought you. Since then on there were newer versions of you that have flooded the market. They have so much to offer than you, yet I like you for how simple you are. You have been the carrier of my secrets, the treasurer of my dirty jokes and the guardian of all my details of my bank account. May your contact list increase manifold with the numbers of pretty women.”

Personal Computer: “Dear Personal Computer, thanks for having resisted virus attacks for so long, touchwood! Thanks for having such a large memory space to store movies music and videos (and you know what kind, so let’s just keep it between you and me), thank you for putting up with my tantrums whenever I got killed while playing Call of Duty. May you keep working without any glitches and may your DVD drive function smoothly”

I realized after my prayers that how dependent I had become on these gadgets, how would I be able to work without that I-pod plugged in my ears? How would I be able to get the courage and the strength to face the messes I get into without getting in touch with my close friends with the push of the “Call” button in my phone?  How would I pass a day without logging on to Facebook and Twitter? You take that all away from me and I become a man of flesh and bones. I become a corpse with no brain and heart. We can’t live without a functioning air conditioner, we can’t imagine cleaning our clothes without a washing machine, we have moved on so ahead of time that we now look back and wonder how people in the days of the yore would have lived. We have now pampered ourselves with technology to such an extent that we cannot imagine a day without using any of these gadgets. We now have urinals with automatic flushes that cleans up after we leave, is this a sign of making life simple or is this a way of telling that we have become so untrustworthy that we cannot be even trusted to use the flush once we finish up? As Tyler Durden had said “The things we own, end up owning us” that seems about right.

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