Scowling, I take my hand out from inside my buttery-soft, cozy blanket to reach out for my phone as the shrill alarm goes off. From the relaxing meditative music (which for some reason has the sound of dripping water at regular intervals) to my favorite song’s background score, I have tried it all. Turns out you just cannot have an alarm tone that you don’t detest with every atom of your body.
Shrugging off the blanket, I sit up and stretch, tie my hair into a messy bun, grab my spectacles along with my phone and with my eyes still closed, walk zombie-like to the washroom. I emerge from it 35 minutes later (having caught up on the morning news on the Ndtv app) and look at hubby dearest blissfully snoring away. He still has an hour before he needs to be up. Smirking, I place his phone on his pillow right next to his ear. The sitar sounds from the classical music wagon he is currently on, can TWANGGGG right into his ear when his own alarm goes off. Take that, sleepy!
As I walk into the kitchen and put on a kettle for making myself a cup of tea, in an expert robotic gesture I simultaneously use my phone to open the app which will turn on the central heating as well as hot water in our apartment. Yeah, check it out. We do that on our phone now as using switches is too much exercise. It’s also old school. Few days ago, our landlord had a guy sent over to install a device (Hive I think it is called) using which we will be able to control the heating and hot water via an app on my phone. The person, with a flourish well-suited to a magician, informed us that if we were out shopping and wanted that the house be warm and water be hot on our arrival, we could do it from outside the house. Huh! To be honest, I cant really think of a single time I have ever given heating and hot water a thought while shopping. Stepping inside an enclosed room after being out on a bitterly cold windy day alone feels like stepping into a sauna to me.
Anyway, that’s the way it has been since then.
I spend the next hour preparing breakfast as well as hubby’s lunch and when he walks in steely eyed after a while, rubbing his ear, I sweetly point out to him that a man managed to divert a plane heading to Cairo all the way to Cyprus just to meet his lady love. The least he could do is wake up early to spend some additional time with me each morning.
“The mood I am in right now, I wont mind taking a plane to Honolulu to get away from you” he mutters, heading back inside to get ready for work.
“I heard that!” I bellow after him, grinning.
“Good!” he replies.
As I think about stepping out in the balcony for some fresh morning air, my phone beeps. I’ve got mail!
It’s a reminder from the local library, reminding me that the four books that I have on loan are due to be returned three days from today. A cloud of shame descends upon me. It has already been 2 weeks since I finally found a superb library in our new vicinity and somehow I have not touched even a single book, let alone finish them all by the due date. This is highly unlikely of me. The fact is that I have managed to sync up my gadgets to my sister’s kindle in India and spend hours nowdays reading e-books on my laptop or on my phone. Who will believe me when I say that I am one of those people who prefer real books to electronic ones, I scold myself. I make a mental note of renewing the items online for another two weeks and resolve to start reading the books in the afternoon.
Soon I wave hubby off to work and as I sit down with breakfast and another steaming cup of tea, my phone goes off again. It’s my niece’s video call from India. She is all of five years old but believe it when I say that she knows far more about the electronic gadgets already than I will ever learn in my entire life. Kids these days seem to be born with a chip installed inside them containing all sorts of information about I-pads, I-phones, I-pods and I-don’t-know-what-else. I accept the call and start cooing and squealing along with her. There’s a bank holiday in India today and she is at her grandma’s place for the day. I also catch up with my mom on the usual updates about the family and her work while having my breakfast.
There hasn’t been much that keeps me busy since we have shifted to Ireland a few months ago. That’s the reason why I have also recently started hunting for a job. I have never really worked before and looking for your first job some seven years after having finished your education is never easy but I have too much free time on my hands and something to keep me occupied would be nice. Thus, between completing the usual domestic chores, working on beautifying my new blog, applying for jobs online, looking up some short-term writing courses and alternately watching Downton Abbey on Netflix and Zindagi channel’s Jackson heights on youtube (library books lie forgotten), the day lazily passes by.
I get a customary call from hubby during his lunch break at work and he proudly announces that according to a Withings app on his phone, he has finally reached the landmark of walking 750 kms in the past three months. Yes, we both are quite the walkers nowdays and go for an average of around 8kms of walk daily after hubby returns from work in the evening. He obviously ends up walking much more than me on weekdays. I shower praises onto him and think to myself if there is anything left in the world that we don’t have an app for these days. Interrupting my thoughts, hubby states that it’s a gorgeous sunny day outside and I should step out to soak up some vitamin D to avoid the D-3 deficiency tablets he himself has been popping after his last medical checkup.
“Yeah, maybe I will” I think.
After chit-chatting for a few more minutes and assuring him that the face-time call he got from a friend of mine at noon must have been dialed mistakenly by her adorable one year old daughter (weekends are the face-timing days for me on hubby’s phone), I hang up.
I decide to finish the pre-cooking preparation for the dinner quickly and head out to a nearby park for a change. I scan internet for a recipe I have been dying to try out since some days now and as its friday (yippee!!) it’s a suitable day for some exotic dining experimentation.
Just like many of my lovely facebook friends (many of whom I haven’t met in person since more than a decade and some of them never at all) the chefs and housewives in the videos on youtube have begun to feel like my close friends. I envy the new brides of today who have so many options for learning the ropes of domestic life these days. Video chatting, hours of free whatsapp calling, millions of youtube videos and what not. Technology has really managed to blur the physical borders around the globe and has gotten us all extremely close to each other. It’s all marvelous but darn it! It’s becoming easier and easier to be a good wife when we worked so hard the traditional way to achieve the same during our time. I am not an ancient wife myself but 6 years ago, it didn’t seem quite as convenient as today.
I play a video on my phone, place it on the top of the microwave and cheerfully begin preparations for supper.
At around 4pm, I lock the apartment and step out of the complex to head out to the park. Summer finally seems to be round the corner and it really is a beautiful sunny day. Zipping up my jacket and tossing my sling bag over my head, I begin striding towards the village center.
We live in a delightful little suburb called Castleknock which is located around 8km west of the Dublin city center. With its cozy row of houses puffing out smoke out of their orthodox chimneys, patches of cobbled streets, a vintage church, traditional shops like that of an actual shoe-maker and overall gentle peace in charming surroundings with people so warm that everyone greets you on the streets, this place has a sense of tranquility that not even zooming vehicles can ruin. The council has filled the sides of the village streets with Irish daffodils and the village center looks lovely on this bright clear day. Ofcourse, no village in Ireland is worth its weight in salt without an authentic Irish pub and as I pass ours called Myo’s, I wonder why I don’t get outdoors more often.
Reaching the park, I make myself comfortable sitting cross-legged under a huge tree on a nice, sunny patch of grass. A golden retriever playing nearby trots over to sniff at me and as I reach out to stroke him, he haughtily walks away. This is nice, I think. Warm sunshine, soothing greenery, little children playing around and people walking their dogs or running. It really feels great to be out of the house. More so out of a habit, I fish out my phone and unlocking it, tap on the facebook icon before it says- “No wifi, check your connection” I mentally smack my head and instead, take my writing pad and a pen out of the bag. Resting myself against the tree trunk, I begin to write…..
Our current society is a product of digital revolution. Our daily life has been profoundly affected by the internet where virtual life is becoming more social than the physical life. From ordering a pizza to planning and booking a world tour, there is nothing you can’t do over internet. Undoubtedly, advantages are many-
-Infinite avenues for personal and professional usage.
-Easy access to a sea of information.
-Cheaper and quicker medium of communication.
-Powerful tool of learning across nations.
Business, healthcare, government, finance…you name it and every single commodity has been transformed by the usage of internet. Today, world is a global village networked by various technologies.
Mobile internet is a fresh revolution. It has removed all communication barriers and has turned our existence upside down. It frees us from geographical fetters and lessens the pain of living faraway from our loved ones. You can stay in touch moment to moment with family and friends via your smartphones. On one hand, these social platforms have proved to be an excellent antidote for our absence or even shyness, enabling us to reach out and be in touch with the most distant relatives and far-flung friends. On the other hand, we are today so comfortable interacting with each other through these virtual platforms that in the circumstance when one has to speak to someone over the phone, we find ourselves at loss for words. I personally feel that transferring our social life onto the internet has, to a certain extent, resulted in deteriorating the quality of relationships.
Another factor is the overexposure and easy-availability of any and every type of information for an individual (and more seriously a child) to obtain. Seeing children as young as 11-12 years of age roaming the streets with earphones stuck in their ears and fingers lazily swiping the screen, I wonder which topic has been shielded from them in order to save their innocence. From cheat sheets to porn, it’s all out there. This one scares me.
This phase of digital obsession the world is currently going through seems to be a particularly dangerous one to me. We (children, youngsters and adults)are ALL addicted to our individual mobile phones till a point that it has become an insanely unhealthy fixation. Many a times, I end up forbidding myself to check my phone for some hours just to get on with my real life and enjoy it. Technology has invaded our households and taken over.
I close my writing pad and am alarmed to see that it’s almost dusk. The sky is filled with streaks of fiery orange hue and the whole scene looks something straight out of a story-book.
Spending little time with myself in the quiet and undisturbed surroundings of a neighborhood park has today helped clear my mind of the accumulating digital dust and cobwebs. It’s amazing what a change of scene can sometimes do. I call hubby and tell him that I will meet him at the bus-station on my way back home. When he disembarks from the bus tapping away at his phone, I take it from him and shove it in my pocket. “You are in a weird mood” he says but holds my hand and we slowly begin walking towards our locality. It’s almost dark when we pass by the church at the village square. The view of an old, medieval building with a background of the twilight sky looks profoundly serene. It works like a medicine for a tired mind.
We have a nice, quiet evening at home and I am surprised at how habitual my system is to reach out for the phone/laptop when I am in the house. How did I never notice it before? I didn’t miss them when I was at the park but once I was back in my familiar domain, the strong pull between the devices and me seems to be almost magnetic. It’s scary and annoying.
“Hey!” I say to hubby later that night as we are getting into bed, ready to sleep “New rules. No phones during the evening walks. No phones during the meals. No phone ANYTIME when its not needed, period. Lets chuck them in the living room altogether before sleeping so that we don’t, squinting our eyes, check it each time it buzzes during the night. We will still be able to hear the morning alarm. Agreed?”
“AGREED!!!!” he replies, nodding his head a little too vigorously “..but can we start this thing from tomorrow night…?” *sheepish grin*
“Why?” I ask, narrowing my eyes.
“It’s just that I have been monitoring my sleep cycle on this awesome app since two days now and believe me its realllllly fascinating. It tells us exactly at what time our sleep is the deepest and when it breaks during the night…you just have to keep it near your bed while you sleep……”
With a loud sigh, I get inside the covers and yank them above my head. Closing my eyes, I wonder if its the same in every other house. Maybe this should be the subject of my next write-up for my blog…ZZZZZZZZZZZZ…………..