My parents aren’t exactly the most tech-savvy, you know. I guess that goes with most people from their generation. We grew up with computers. They grew up with typewriters. We grew up with email. They grew up with snail-mail. We grew up with landlines and cellphones. They grew up with trunk calls and “kambli pothappu!”
My mom grew up and studied in Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata (Calcutta then), etc., but still, she has absolutely no interest in technology. Or rather, she never used to. My sister and I have tried our level best to teach her how to use the computer, but other than we losing our patience, there was no real progress. It’s not exactly rocket science, no? All she had to do was put in some time and effort. But how will she learn when five minutes after we’ve made her sit down in from of the system, she’ll run to the kitchen because she had forgotten she’d kept milk on the stove? One time, I had forgotten to switch the system off in the morning before going to college, and mom called me to tell me that there is ‘some light coming from the screen’ (yes, that’s how she described it). So I tried telling her how to switch it off. In two minutes, my entire class had come to know that I had left the computer on before coming to college. I think she finally called the girl living next door to come and switch it off. She couldn’t operate the TV remote to save her life. She would keep pressing some buttons, hoping to change the channel, but by the time she figured it out and found the correct channel, the programme would’ve ended. She could never figure out how to use a cellphone, it was just too complicated. That she uses a Blackberry now is an entirely different matter and story. My dad got it from his office. He didn’t like the QWERTY keypad, so he gave it to Amma. When I asked her if I can take her Blackberry and give her my old phone, she said that she’s ‘so used to Blackberry, she doesn’t feel like using any other phone’. :/ This, coming from the woman who used to send ten blank messages before finally getting one right. She’s damn cute, I tell you.
My dad grew up in a tiny little village in North Kerala, studied in a Malayalam medium school, saw a city for the first time only when he joined teaching college in Mysore, and for 20-25 of his 38 years of career, did all the paper work and filing manually. But he was a lot more open to learning about technology than my mom was. He created an email account, started learning how to type, he learnt how to listen to songs on Youtube. Now he books all his tickets online, sends me mile-long mails sometimes (when there are burning issues, you see. Both me and dad, not big on talking). Since he was a telecom employee anyway, learning how to use a cellphone was not a big deal for him.
But you know, our generation is a very kutthi cheez. We make fun of the older generation for not knowing how to use technology, but soon as they learn it, we realize they were better off not knowing it. Oh you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been through it. We don’t want them to know how to use cellphones so that they won’t check the messages in our inbox. We have gotten away with so many stories like “That was not a call, that was my alarm” when the phone rang in the dead of the night (no prizes for guessing who would call at that time). We don’t want to give our passwords to them in case they want to check something important, because the passwords would invariably be the name of a current crush. I remember when we were groom-hunting for my sis, her account in keralamatrimony was registered under my email id. And I used to regularly monitor it. Acha and I would sit together at night and go through the profiles. It was all going smoothly till Acha called me from office one day and asked me for my Yahoo password. Why? Because he wanted to check the email of some prospective groom immediately, that had been sent to my id. Now how can I say a no when my own dad asks me for the password? If I say no, that’ll mean that I’m hiding something. If I say yes, well, he’ll see my inbox, and even though my password was no one’s name and there was nothing suspicious in my inbox, I was just not comfortable with it. I used to get a lot of forwarded emails, some of which contained adult jokes, and I obviously wouldn’t want my dad to see them, right?!! So I tried to stall it, saying that I’ll check the mail and tell him what the contents were. But he insisted, so I gave him the password. Then I quickly switched on the computer, logged in to my account, and changed the password. So when my dad tried to log in, he couldn’t. He called me to ask what was wrong and why he wasn’t able to log in. I pretended to be confused. “What, you can’t log in? But I’m able to. Don’t know what’s wrong. Anyway, here’s the mail you were talking about. Take down the number…”. And then I quickly changed the password again. Ya I know, sneaky little liar.
But we got over all that with time. I was happy and proud that Amma had finally managed to learn how to send SMSes and that Acha didn’t have to wait in long queues to book tickets.
Until one fine day, dad asked me about my blog. He knew I wrote in a blog, so he asked me to send him the link. I said I will, but I never did. Because I don’t want him to read it. I don’t think he’ll be able to handle the fact that his darling little daughter drinks vodka and has been in relationships. Nope, no sir! So when I go home, I open my blog, show him and Amma a few posts, so that they’ll know that I do write, and quickly close it down before they can spot anything scandalous.
Then he asked me about Facebook. I very excitedly told him that it’s this supercool thing where you can keep in touch with people. He asked me to create an account for him the last time I went home. I ahemed and aahed and changed the subject. I definitely do not want him on my Facebook list. No no no no no no no no no.
And then, yesterday, I open my FB, and see a new friend request from one Mr. Ramachandran Nambiar. For a second I wasn’t sure who it was, because that’s not how my dad writes his name usually. He writes it with his initials and not with the ‘Nambiar’ surname. There was no pic either. So I figured it must be someone else, and, hoping against hope, opened the profile to check out the details.
Sure enough:- Worked at: BSNL. Studied in: Nirmalagiri College. One mutual friend (a family friend, who probably helped him create the account).
The request is still pending.