As we (my better half and I) started to pull the car out of the drive way to get some shopping done we saw the mailman drop a post into the neighbour’s mailbox and walk right past our door. I noticed this and commented, “Aww! No mail for us; which means no one is thinking about us!”

Pat came the repartee from my husband, “You should be happy we don’t have a mail! It means no taxes and no bills to be paid yet! No one is asking for my hard earned money!”

Now, that was a new way to look at it, I thought. The emotional me was being woeful about no ‘letters’ coming from any near and dear ones and here he was, my ever practical better half; happy that no expense statement was pending.   The thought that in this day of emails and ‘Whats app’ and ‘Twitter’, where the news of the world is at our fingertips and available in current time; anyone would bother to write a formal letter, is ridiculous.

The world’s best technology working at the beck and call of every single person in every household, toddler included; it transported me to my ‘good old days’ of when I was studying in college. The last two decades have wreaked havoc in our personal lives in the name of advanced technology and the revolution of information dispersal. Most of the allure of waiting, the charm of expecting for a special moment is lost today. These are such sad times of instant gratification that anything which requires patience and a little bit of waiting have lost charm.  We have forgotten ‘how to wait ‘and as a result we run short of patience, high on temper and our temperament is very ‘snappish’. Everything has to happen at the ‘like the click of our fingers’ else we can easily move on to something else, because this takes too much time.

Before leaving home for college studies my dad wrote me a ‘loooooong’ letter,  full of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’.  He bought me a dozen Inland letters and I was asked to write a letter once in every 3 days, and call him once a week.  If I sent a letter with my results, I used to expectantly wait for the post man and dread my dad’s’ ‘reply’ and what further advice, admonishing was in store for me! We used to go out and wait in the queue of STD booth and make our weekly calls back home. They had implicit faith in us and in their upbringing too. Else, how could they have survived without speaking to us for six long days?!

This apart, even when I got engaged my fiancé used to send post cards and write 6 page long declarations of undying love! I have a huge folder still, a collection of all his love letters.  He used to call at specific times and I had to wait by the Land line; the one and only phone at home.  It had its own charm I think.

Even after marriage he used to travel a lot. We did not even have a landline then. I had to take permission from my Landlady and wait by the phone at the appointed time. My landlady would discreetly make herself scarce, yet I used to feel very conscious of the time and uncomfortable about intruding their privacy. The end of every call would begin my second wait for long letters detailing about his times away from family and how much he misses us.

Today also he travels a lot; but the wait is missing for many reasons.  The best reason is of course, the great strides our wonderful technology has made! From no phone days, we have come to the day where ALL of us have the latest phones! So communication is instant. We have to wait for nothing and no one, in fact if he( my better half) for some reason gets delayed or fails to inform me that he has reached a place or is about to leave from a place, I get angry!! I am not totally blaming advanced technology for the increase in my expectation and decrease in patience, but it does have a big role to play.

I have not written a letter in years now. We all have learnt to text each other with great alacrity and absolute dexterity in the best of abbreviations possible! My handwriting (which used to be like a ‘string of pearls’ –my 8th class teacher’s compliment I cherish till date) is reduced to some doctor’s prescription legible to none at all! So, letter writing is an unthinkable option today. The second big loss I have suffered because of these phones is ‘memory’!  Once upon a time, long long ago, I held the esteemed post of being the official directory for my family, friends and extended family. I could rattle off phone numbers, birthday dates, anniversaries and other important ‘first meeting’ dates with ease. Today, I suffer from selective amnesia! My hi-tech phone has a reminder setting, and the ubiquitous Face book declares every personal detail awfully publicly. So, the need to remember has ceased and my memory bid adieu too!

The sad thing about this technology is that we seem to live a public life and yet a very lonely one. When I had to wait for my husband’s call and go to the Landlady’s house, I worked hard to maintain a good rapport with her. This was a good exercise for my social skills.  Then, I did not hesitate in seeking her help. If I sought help from her, I used to be conscious that I be ready to help her too, when and if she ever needed me.  Today, I have the world at my finger tips (my latest 4G enabled phone) needing favours from anyone has become a bit far fetched.  Everyone does home delivery, everyone has a mobile, an e-mail Id and a website of their own in some cases! Be it my grocer, my hair dresser or my favourite restaurant guy! If all of them fail, I can always summon my better half! He dare not refuse to appease to my demands and I need not be polite either nor do I have to repay the good favour! Why bother getting dressed, put on a smile meet my neighbours or anyone for that matter?  My life is so boringly limited (yet exceedingly rushed) to the phone that I lack the time to meet anyone. This one gadget has managed to rob me of my flawless etiquette and my natural charming demeanour and reduced me to zero social skills!

There it is, my woeful state of vegetated existence, a small walk down the memory lane, all because ‘I haven’t got a mail’. All I have is my Smart PhoneJ