Monday, 15 November 2010


If this appears deceptively similar to Cliff Richard's famous number 'Constantly', the similarity stops there. No one has the time these days to do anything constantly let alone to walk in a dream and think about one's love. These days the world moves 'instantly'. No one has time to deliberately do anything or deliberate over things.

At one time we used to hear a song over the Short Wave radio and then hope to hear it again over the next few months. In order to remember the lyrics we would sit with a paper and pencil when the Geetmala would be broadcast again and, if there would be no disturbance on the shortwave, we would be able to fast write the lyrics, or, most of those. Nowadays, we download any number from the You tube and not only hear it but also see its video; and, have its lyrics before us instantly.

Take the case of photographs. Even though it is obvious, let me say it. Earlier we used to take pictures of the family during the holidays or engaged in diverse activities. We used to get them printed and stick them in the family album and then invite unsuspecting guests at home; and sort of lead them into viewing our album. They were forced to show interest whilst waiting for the dessert to be served (No one ever took the risk of showing those pictures after the dessert). But nowadays, we put them up on facebook even when the event is going on and enjoy the attention. The plus point is that we don't get to see the yawns and the furtive glances at the watch.

Remember how we used to cringe when visiting a friend's house and the couple insisting that we must see merit in their son Gaurav performing as Gabbar of Sholay with a dacoit's belt loosely hanging from his shoulder. Now we go through the videos in our own time. We don't have to match our comment, "How cute Gaurav looks!" with our own (disgusted) looks. In addition, we can instantly subject the sender to some return torture (like return gifts on birthdays) of seeing our own son Vivek doing the rendition of Michael Jackson's moonwalk.

Television too projects pictures and news for us instantly. Gone are the days when a politician's denial of his involvement in corruption would be read after a week. Nowadays, thanks mostly to his media-managers, his denial appears instantly whilst the scam is being aired. Do you remember when Pramod Mahajan was shot? When he was battling with life, the media used to instantly show details of his innards, knowing well that most of us are genuinely interested in the inner news.

At one time we used to deliberate over national and international issues and then form our views and much later express these. Nowadays, Twiiter has made sure that important views of such leading personalities as those who specialise in having views on everything under the sun are instantly available. It is another thing that we had never known that these worthies had any views on anything until then; but, then, a view is a view. Everyone, from Obama to O' mama, is reduced to 140 characters.

Earlier, we would get news from the battle front days later. Nowadays, the scenes of the battle are instantly flashed before us even as the first shots are fired. Many so called war-correspondents vie with one another in reaching news to us before the bullets hit the targets.

Thankfully, in all this intantaneity there are two things that still move at leisurely pace and we are sure never going to change. One is something called a 'File' in government offices. Its movement is exactly at the same pace as, say, in 1949. From noting number 1 to 478, all aspects of the case are deliberated upon at great length. Some of these notes are tagged Immediate, Most Immediate, Urgent etc but there is never any undue hurry. Five years later, the File, knowing that in the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise, it is the latter that wins, crawls even slower than the tortoise.

The second is the Indian judicial system. A fast moving case is often the one, which has advanced from being posted to its fifth hearing in about five years time.

In most other things everything is instantly done. For example, it used to take many years from love at first sight, to marriage, to children, to divorce. Nowadays, before you can switch channels on a television the divorce is through and the guy, having been instantly free again, is enjoying honeymoon with the second wife in Pattaya.

What about instant fame? Have you forgotten Prince? He became instantly famous and rich by the sheer bad luck of falling in a 40 feet open hole; the exact opposite of golfing term, that is, one-in-hole.

Many of us, however, still miss the slow pace at which things used to move. There were no ATMs, no cell phones to instantly connect to people, ODIs and T 20s. There were no prizes for reading books fast or pressing the button in fastest finger first.

Oh, how we miss those slow moving days? "Dil dhoondta hai fursat ke chaar din..." (Heart searches for those leisurely days).

Alas, no more.

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