Time always fascinates me. Time changes constantly. We all know that. We have been told that. In the famous statement “Change is the only constant”, time is the variable. But can we really see that? Think about it. We hardly see time change. All you smarty pants out there, don’t look at your watches immediately! What I meant was that in the hustle and bustle of our lives, we fail to notice all the changes that happen around us. We are subconsciously aware of the changing times but we sort of seamlessly ease in to all these changes that we hardly notice them. Well, I am not being intentionally vague or purposefully confusing here even though you may be cursing me already.
Well, think about it. Time is like the earth or the sun or the millions of heavenly objects. Science has educated us that all these things move. But we have never really seen them do so (unless you are sitting in NASA with a super telescope). Time is like wind. We can feel the change but it eludes our eyes. So years go by and we live life adapting to (and accepting) all the changes that happen around us through the years without really stopping to think and see the extent and magnitude of those changes. And also there is the continuum paradox. Well, don’t worry. This is not a science article. Imagine you keep seeing someone every single day. You wouldn’t notice the subtle changes in their appearance as they are so gradual that they go unnoticed. On the other hand if you are seeing someone say after 5 years you are more likely to see the changes in them.
All right.. all right.. I can see a few polite folks yelling: “So what are you trying to say here?” Well, I will give you the usual answer: Nothing really. If you still want to try and peek into my brain, don’t tell me I didn’t try to warn you. Well, it is one of those random moments where I was just reminiscing the old times and my idle mind started to chronicle all the changes that it has lived through all these years. And it made me part nostalgic and part philosophical. Don’t worry…. Won’t bore you with anything too deep though.
So let us see, what has changed in our lives! Well, for starters, everything! The way of life, the people around you, the landscape, the scenery, the air you breathe, the roads you travel, the food you eat, the things you do and so on and so forth! Nothing has been spared by the winds of time and change.
Be more specific, you say. Okay! In those days, TV was not 24 hours. And it was not 240 channels either. I am sure lot of you would feel nostalgic about Doordarshan. I used to sit watching the Doordarshan symbol spinning and spinning, waiting for programming to begin. Or sometimes there used to be that multi-color bars that covered the TV screen like a rainbow which always fascinated me. And I don’t know if it is just me, but I felt that the programs in those days were better than the ones that air now. But again I digress.
The point is that in those days there were limited numbers of good quality shows (and of different genres) that kept us hooked. I remember waiting for the next Wednesday to watch Byomkesh Bakshi. Sunday mornings were always the most exciting time of the week as we had great shows and cartoons back to back from I think 9 to 12. And those were the only times you could watch these shows. If by chance you miss it, there is no way you can watch it again. There was no re-telecast. There was no internet (probably was inside some genius’ mind). I remember being so bummed when I couldn’t watch a favorite show due to a power cut. I also remember going to a friend who lived a few streets apart (where by some miracle, there was no power cut) and asking him what happened in that day’s episode. I can’t imagine anyone doing these things nowadays. To the next generation, this might even sound outright funny (I can already see Maya making fun of me), but these are bits of nostalgia for me.
There was no Youtube (or multiple music channels) those days and Chitrahaar or Rangoli were the only means for you to catch a new song or reminisce an old classic. And ohhh…. Movies. What can I say? There was so much buzz and anticipation over the release of a new movie. The only way to watch a new movie was in the theater. And we only watched our most favorite actors’ movies (or an absolute classic) in the theater. So it felt like a huge deal. I would always be in countdown mode that whole week. And then there was ice cream, popcorn etc… It felt very special. Nowadays we have the option to watch every other movie in the theater though more often than not, we watch them in our laptops while multitasking a bunch of other things. And a week later, we don’t even remember if we ever watched that movie or not. It is no surprise that I distinctly remember only the movies (the theater I watched them in and several other details) that I watched up until I probably went to college.
Moving on to food. Well, that too has changed a lot. I remember fruit and vegetable vendors making rounds every single morning. I used to love the exercise of going out and picking fresh vegetables. No supermarkets, no genetically modified shiny fruits that look like that they came out of a washing machine, no cutely labelled organic fancy (read expensive) stuff! Just fresh fruits and vegetables right out of neighboring farm lands. And lots of variety too. I know it will be a weird comparison, but if you think about it, even though the number of dishes in restaurants have risen exponentially, the ingredients are actually shrinking. There are vegetables that I no longer see or are very scarce these days. And talk about restaurants and fancy places serving food! Well, I know we have a lot of options these days. But somehow I feel that they just try too much to be different and unique. Don’t get me wrong, they are very good, but I still prefer the older ones which kept it relatively simple but immensely delicious.
Let us switch gears a bit. How about the stark contrast in watching a Bjorn Borg or a Stefan Edberg play to the current crop (barring Federer of course) go on and on in endless marathon rallies like soft skinned cyborgs? How about the fact that in a few years, we could see 1 over cricket matches playing to packed arenas? I can just go on and on but I am sure you don’t want me to. And don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that all this change is bad. By no means! I am just saying that our lives are changing daily at an infinitesimal velocity and ferocity.
And if you think about it, technology is at the forefront of most of the changes that have transpired in our lives. It is what drove us out of the streets and playgrounds into our cellphones and gaming consoles. It is what gave us the option of skipping a get together with friends and to catch up later on Facebook or Whatsapp. It is the one that trumped our urge to catch a movie on the giant screen to watching it on your iPad on the go. It is the one that egged us to tear away from our roots and explore the vast expanses of the earth (and beyond). Well, I guess you get the point here.
There will be a day when we (at least some of us) will be travelling in cars that drive themselves, when robots will clean our dishes and autobots will cook delicacies for us as we watch a movie in our Google glasses while telecommuting to work. And to our delusional mind, all this would seem like life as usual. But to the deep subconscious, if and when it wakes up from a slumber, it would be another of time’s in-numerous illusions that will, like it or not, leave you transformed and transfixed to equal measure.