Sunday, January 31, 2010

That Syncing feeling

Ever had the sinking feeling? Or the less talked about but equally depressing syncing feeling? I’ve conceded that it’s pretty much impossible for our generation to escape it.

The first few days my wife got a Blackberry were incredibly painful. One night I’d just seen Paranormal Activity and quietly slunk into bed drawing the covers over my head. Understandably had a spot of trouble sleeping. Somewhere in the middle of the night the strong feeling that something wasn’t quite right jolted me from sleep. I got up gingerly to see the wife sitting erect in bed, ramrod straight. Wisps of hair covering half her face, and hands clasped together as though in prayer… an eerie glow on her face, a subtle blue light dancing in her eyes. ‘Darling,’ I squeaked, ‘is everything alright?’ ‘Now it is,’ said she, with what was probably a sheepish smile, but in the mood lighting appeared sinister. ‘Wasn’t syncing, now it seems to be okay,’ and she let a little more backlight escape the Blackberry she had clasped in her hands showing the progress bar indicating 90% sync fulfillment. It was like someone on a ventilator had discovered that the oxygen pipe was under his butt and had just rolled it out from under him to get a new lease of breath and life. Zombie like behaviour from the Mrs. have become commonplace now. It is perfectly normal to see her standing facing a wall seemingly motionless and oblivious to human presence waiting for some more syncing to happen.

I risked admonishing her for this obsession just once. ‘Should we just let the email sync on only weekdays and just leave it off otherwise,’ I suggested hopefully. ‘Oh yes? And mail syncing is all that constitutes an obsession?’ she responded and carried on texting with just one finger. Was it possible that she was talking about the movies’ collection on my desktop that needed syncing with my external hard disk daily; my external hard disk which needed syncing daily with my Wi-Fi media streamer database; my music collection that needed to be synced across two music players and one music hard disk; the phone contacts that needed to be synced with my desktop morning and evening at least and a couple of times in between just in case.

The pace of life today is such that the moment to sit and introspect and smell-the-flowers – so to say – is not part of the daily schedule. Some days I’m tempted to put it in my calendar that I need to do the smelling flower routine, but related logistics are really tough to negotiate. Perched on the 6th floor of a multistory with a balcony big enough only for the clothesline and the washing machine, the closest flowers are in that yonder far green patch in a school garden visible only remotely, and really  challenge the olfactory senses.

There was a time when one could switch off from those activities one was expected to do in life and spend a little time with those things one wanted to do in life. School could be left behind, homework could be slammed shut, tuitions could be returned from, even (later in life) office once used to be that grey dreary building that used to be the prison of choice only between 9:00 hour and 18:00 hours. That was the era where phones had leashes restraining them to that slot in the wall, work stations referred to the springy chair and static desk and work hours were defined and time slotted.

Not so now! The domesticated pet demanded that the leash be ridden. The big black Labrador with a rotary dial became the Chihuahua with backlit musical keypads, and crept into our pockets to stay there as long as it didn’t need to be fed from a wall socket. The work station curled up into sleek 13 inch LCD panels longingly beseeching us to swing them over our shoulders and make them a part of ourselves. And the incredible intrusion in our lives doesn’t stop with this! The phone rings or vibrates and calls just have to be received; the tinkle announces a text message, and SMSes just have to be read and replied to; the mails just cannot do without being answered immediately. Savita from the bank just has to sell us that credit card and demands an explanation if we can’t oblige; Millionaire builders have launched a new tower and you just have to invest in them; Skimpy Designers have a 50% off on the price, and nearly 80% off on the bodily coverage area, and this special offer is only for today. 15 years back these guys would have typed two lines on a 15 paisa post card and dispatched it to my home address. I may or may not have seen it for weeks. Even when delivered to my table, it would be instantly recognized as spam and dropped in the bin. Today it’s an SMS. The postcard has effectively rolled into a missile and is shoved up my nose and I just have to plug it out, unroll it and react instantly. Failure to do so would mean that the missile remains up my nose and that little unread icon stays on my mobile screen begging to be released from its prison of unreadhood to the nirvana of readhood.

Yes, the real impact of global warming is not that the continents are sinking, but that every single person on those continents is syncing. Life is limited to little moments between ‘database updated’ messages, which is valid only until someone somewhere chooses to destroy the equilibrium by yet another mail, music video, or a new movie necessitating a requirement to update yet again.

Distressing! I could go on and on but my scheduler announces that it’s time to break to go spend with the flowers. I need to be nimble and alert… they appear only for two seconds every eight minute on my screen saver!


  1. Love your expression and your play with words...Simply wonderful... I dont follow blogs but am certainly going to follow this one...

  2. Thanks for contra delight... a very geeky subject and diction with an anti-geek imagery and tone.

  3. Mukul, you are an artist! Love your commentary on the world around you. Glad to see you have found time for your hobbies, and each piece I have read is a delight, with just the right tinge of sarcasm and humor weaved in. Keep at it! - Sonia