“Aunt is no more. Ask Dineshji to come urgently” was the terse message on my cell quite late into the night. My dad’s sister had been unwell for sometime now, and two heart-attacks in quick succession were very fatal. Once the grim news had settled, another task awaited me. I had to make travel arrangements for dad, as he had to travel to Kanpur, the opposite end of India. It was midnight and Mumbai was sleeping tight.
Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t carrying my laptop either, on which I could access the Web and make the requisite arrangements. I was cursing myself at leaving my laptop back at home and wondering what to do next.
Suddenly, out there in the grim environ, a small 20-watt bulb lit over my head, dispelling the confusion that had cloaked my mind. My E61 turned out to be the Excalibur that I was hunting for. Due to the erratic travel schedules, I have subscribed to GPRS service on my cell. I use it to surf, check mails and send my articles. Agree, the data speeds are pathetic and it takes ages even to mail a simple word document. But that is a small price one has to pay for convenience.
In a jiffy, the Internet explorer was open on my cell and I keyed in ‘Makemytrip.com’. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Makemytrip was WAP enabled and had been optimised for the cell screen. The best thing was the layout was a bit intuitive keeping in mind the small screen and few clicks that go with it. Within, five minutes, I had whittled down the search to an early morning flight to Kanpur, punched in the details, made the payment through the credit card and presto, the work was done.
In another five minutes or so, I checked my Gmail on my cell again to find the confirmation mail from Makemytrip with all the requisite details. Within a few hours, we were at the airport, armed with the printed copy of the airticket in our hands.
As we had sometime on our hands, we sat down on the ledge out side the departure gate, armed with a hot cup of tea. Dawn was breaking over the distant horizon, and with it we were coming to terms to the loss of aunty and her not being around. Taking a sip of steaming tea from the styrofoam cup, dad looked up at cell and sighed, “times have changed so much”.
“In my times, it would have been such a headache just to get the travel arrangements done, travelling to the airport, finding the right flight, standing in the serpentine queues, getting a ticket done and then finally managing to fly to the desired location. And thanks to that calculator like phone of yours, the whole thing was done in 5 minutes and we are here sipping tea,” he said.
At that moment in time, I didn’t feel like telling my dad that my cellular phone was just a front, the real magic lay in the Web it connected to, a place of endless possibilities. The thing that differentiated the dis-jointed and tedious past from the quick convenient today was simply an interconnected universe that we live in now. It has been growing exponentially over the past many years. And god knows what amazing things lie ahead of us, as we age with time. Probably some years down the line, there could very well be a scenario when I would talk nostalgically about the past and wonderstruck by the present, like my dad is now.