Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 03/14/21 3:10 AM

Guest column: Nostalgia, with a Side of Wistfulness

So, I`m no Luddite but neither am I a Stevie Jobs, with a cutting edge understanding of tech change. However,  all those Whatsapp forwarded- many-times clips singing a nostalgic tune about Flit spray cans, bicycle bells and Dalda tins bring forth the merest of smiles, nothing more, in me.

Because nostalgia notwithstanding, some things wrought by the relentless march of time actually work better for us. For me, at least.

Let me begin with my workplace. While I have faithfully preserved my Brother typewriter for posterity (or for the next KonMari round!), I can only write my articles/ books/edit manuscripts, on the computer. Every writer knows that she will burble on endlessly and produce much waffling work which will need a tight cut/tweak/delete at end of day, and doing this by hand is now unthinkable for me.

I still keep my handwritten notes but I`m turning more often to my digital diary. While I was never one to rummage in my toolkit except for the occasional use of a screwdriver, now I`m ready to be guided by a digital toolkit, all its newly revealed `dangers` taken into account.

The lockdown made a regular digital paymentwali of me, and visits to the bank have now greatly reduced, which is great given that my bank is not exactly known for its exemplary service anyway. The lockdown also cured me of watching movies on the big screen; now it`s streaming platforms zindabad. Ditto my online purchases, which have now shot up by about 800%.

Some things are better in the old format, though. I duly read articles and news reports online but still derive much pleasure from the daily scan of at least three newspapers. I still make davara-tumbler coffee in a decoction dripper while my swanky coffee-maker sits gathering dust. I still wear a watch, purely because it`s an old Cartier Tank of much sentimental value.  I still rock  to hard rock and grimace at the EDM variety of what passes for music.

However, there are two somewhat incongruous things I miss palpably, woefully. One has to do with linguistic change: the erasure of the word `taken` from the spoken and written vocabulary, replaced with the lame `bring.` Just yesterday I was watching a crime thriller and heard  the male lead asking, `Why would the suspect bring the victim to that deserted warehouse?`  Now substitute` take`   for bring and see how much punch the line carries?

The second thing is the death of the boombox, with or without a dvd player contraption in it. In its stead, you find soundbars and pre-recorded transistor radios.

Take the rest away but bring back the ghetto blaster. And that, imo, is the correct  way to use the words `take` and  `bring!`

This appeared in the Sunday Express Magazine of 14 March 2021.

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Sheila Kumar • March 14, 2021

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