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Then and Now

by Vidya Sury November 21, 2015 8 comments
then and now vidya sury

When I saw that video from Birla Sunlife Mutual Fund, I couldn’t help smiling at the way the man actually wrote a note to ask the girl out for coffee and passed it on, rather than simply texting her and getting an instant response.

Gone are the days when we have to actually wait anxiously for anything. This is the age of instant gratification, thanks to technology.

As much as I love “those days” I can’t help being grateful for how far we’ve come, how much easier it is to do things today. Perhaps the best example of this is communication.

Rewind to the 80s, when I didn’t even have a landline phone at home! Besides relying on the post office to handle all our communication needs via the post cards and the inland covers, and when we felt like it, “book post” greeting cards, we didn’t have much else it terms of choice.

If we had an urgent message to send, it was via a telegram where we had to count every word and be clever in conveying what we wanted to say.

Then, when we could afford to make phone calls, we would go to the local telegraph office, fill out a form and request to be connected to the number we wanted to talk to. We’d wait in queue and pray they could get through – and that our person would be available at the other end. When the number connected, the person at the counter directed us to one of the booths where we could lift that receiver and hopefully have a strong-enough connection to hear each other. We could book trunk calls that meant a several-hour wait and demand calls that were somewhat quicker and more expensive.

Next came the STD or subterranean trunk dialing, as we know it today. Except, back then, we still had to visit one of the phone booths in the area to talk. The person who owned the booth would note down the number on a chit of paper with hundreds of others and we waited in line for our turn. We avoided doing this during the daytime, as it was costlier. After 9 or 10 pm, there were half-rates and then, after 11, quarter-rates which found the most takers.

In the mid-90s, we got our first rotary dialer phone with pulse dialing – which meant each digit took a few seconds to dial!. How proud we felt to be able to connect with our folks from the comfort of our own home!

then and now vidya sury

Cut to today – and we have email, mobile phones, Skype and Whatsapp to help us communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world instantly.

Best part? We can talk for as long as we want without spending an arm and a leg. We can exchange photos and videos – live.

I am thrilled to have lived in those days when it was a challenge to connect – and I am excited to be here to enjoy all that technology has to offer – especially with my son away at college. I’d go nuts if I had to depend on what we had back then to stay in touch. In fact, the best is email and Skype – letting us interact face to face – on the go, from anywhere – without being tethered to our gadgets or our home.

What a miracle it seems to pick up the phone, hit the video call button and see my son’s smiling face spring to life – helps me sleep better at night.

Communication technology is the best ever! And that’s why, while watching that #JanoTohMano video, I had to laugh when the guy chose the tough way, not the easier, better and faster way to communicate. Charming, but come on! What a missed opportunity!

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Cathy November 22, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Fascinating to read how far we’ve come with technology to communicate, eh, Vidya? Wow, you really have gone through a transformation. I remember what a big deal phone calls used to be. I made my first long distance call as a teen to my godparents. I had to phone the operator to connect the call. I remember it being such a big deal. My godfather even sent me the cutest little bronzed phone to commemorate the date and the occasion. I still have it.

I’m so glad we are in the era of instant and cheap communication. I would never have connected with lovely folks like you, otherwise!
I just wrote my own take about phones with the death of my mother this past week. She was always such a phone person and I’m not, much preferring email and Facebook. She loved to call to keep in touch and I will cherish the memories. I sure wish I could hear her voice again.
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Vidya Sury November 22, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Cat, I am so sorry about your Mom! I know how it feels. Hugs! My Mom passed away rather suddenly five years ago – and I still feel the loss painfully – I keep imagining I hear her voice – so I can imagine how you feel. Sending you love!
How precious that your Godfather sent you a memento to mark the date! Would love to see a pic! Truly, smartphones have made life so much easier!
Thank you for your kind comment.
Vidya Sury recently posted…Turning Troubles into Triumphs

nabanita November 22, 2015 at 6:40 pm

I remember our landline phone was first brought home in 92 or 93…I used to be the one to answer the calls, at all times…Sometimes the calls for our neighbours too….Then mobile phones, the Siemens ones, came in 2001 I think, and at that point incoming calls would cost too….And then suddenly there was a spurt and today it’s so easy to connect, easy and cheap…Yes, communication is way better now and I like it this way because I can connect with the ones I love immediately!

Vidya Sury November 23, 2015 at 9:14 pm

That’s true, Naba! I remember when I got my first mobile phone – one of those basic Nokias. Then came the ones with a camera – Vidur could never get enough of clicking photos. I learned more from him about the phone than by myself. I love how technology has evolved – putting the world practically in our pocket! Hugs, Mama!
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Rajlakshmi November 23, 2015 at 4:18 pm

I remember those STD calls. Since Dad was posted in a different place we used to walk to the PCO early in the morning on Sundays and call him. That and the letters were our only connection to Dad. It’s actually so much better that now I can call him up or chat on video call.
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Vidya Sury November 23, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Oh yes, Sundays were better rates, right? 🙂 Video calls are great – wonderful to go down memory lane, Rajlakshmi!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Turning Troubles into Triumphs

Darla M Sands November 23, 2015 at 7:37 pm

I was spoiled to have a phone from the earliest age I can recall. We laugh now at the patience it took to dial a rotary phone, especially if you made a mistake and had to start over. Waiting for hours is something I can only imagine. Wow. Now that I think back we did share the line with neighbors, which could be amusing back in the day.
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Vidya Sury November 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm

I know, Darla! In some neighborhoods they had a party line – where everyone could listen to everyone’s conversations! Even individual lines often malfunctioned. It was fun. I recall standing in queue at the local grocer’s to use his coin booth – which often ate our coins and never connected!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Hugging Meditation #MondayMusings


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