“Finished with the comp?” she asks.
“Yes.” I reply
“Put up your next post, have you?”
“No? Then what did you do?!!”
“Read other bloggers’ posts and felt guilty.”
“Serves you right. Hope the guilt kills you.”
“I see. Well, I just decided I haven’t finished with the comp. Not yet.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Last week a friend was here for a few days. He had some time before his next term started, so he flew over from Ireland. We spoke – or rather, he spoke, while I listened – of many things: of days in Hyderabad (where he spent most of his childhood), of life in the CIEFL campus (where his dad, an English professor, acted with other colleagues in plays staged for the CIEFL community, and where he, as a kid, read Hansel & Gretel for a programme aired on the UGC), and life now in Ireland (where he sometimes visited friends who owned sheep which ran all over the place and refused to get back in after grazing despite his earnest and exhausting efforts, after which the dogs were let out and he watched with disbelief as they barked and hounded the sheep until they fell in line and walked back obediently into their enclosures).
His CIEFL days reminded me of my younger days, the times spent with families my parents socialised with, the uncles, aunties and their kids whom I played and fought with, the picnics and parties we attended, the movie-weekends we spent together and so on. And I could not dismiss the thought that kept coming back: how different the times are now.
It was the aspect of socialising that interested me most. Back then, dad used to come home around 6 pm and we would go out often, either shopping or to meet friends. If we stayed back, chances were good that someone dropped in home. There was constant activity, and the chatter never seemed to end. These days, the evenings seem to offer little time and energy for such activities (And on the rare occasions I get back at 6 pm, the abundance of time available sometimes makes me feel disoriented – for a while I’m unable to decide what to do, although I know that there is a lot to be done and that this extra time is such a blessing.)
We earn much more than our parents did during those days, and the work is good too, but most of life revolves around aspects surrounding work. Even when we find time to socialise, we do so with people in the software field (a lot of them are colleagues), and conversation often leads to topics related to office or software (and when it doesn’t it means the men are talking about cars or some new electronic gadget, while the women are exchanging recipes or discussing the merits of following Atkins’ diet).
I cannot help thinking about the families we interacted with many years ago in Kathmandu. Ravi Uncle worked at the Indian Consulate, Ramu Uncle worked with the Geological Survey of India, Venkataramiah Uncle was a professor of Psychology, Anand Sir was a teacher at the Central School I studied in, Mini aunty’s husband (I miss his name) was an ex-pilot, and my dad was an engineer – imagine the conversations such a motley crowd could have!
New times bring in new possibilities; these days I read blogs. And although they cannot be substitutes for real-life conversations, they open windows into other people’s lives and offer a chance to know – and sometimes interact with – people from different backgrounds. Alpha designs roads, Leela is in advertising, Patrix is an architect and public-policy expert, Rash and Anita are journalists, Hekate is (or was?) an ‘Instructional Designer’ – I shouldn’t really be complaining, should I?