Friday, January 28, 2011

S., Aaik, and Skype

There are some people who have a natural knack for imbibing new technologies. It's not like they are electronically or mathematically superenabled; far from it. They pickup terminologies like cars pick up dust in Mumbai. Just sitting there. But when they press buttons, something useful and predictable happens.

Then there are some people, who seek the latest technology, out of a desperate urge to possess. They throw around words like "bluetooth" , "android", "GPRS" and stuff, but wouldn't know the current price of onions if you asked. They change phones, like you change clothes on a sweaty Mumbai summer day, read books on screens, and their camera talks.

And then there are folks like me, who watch all this with a stupid grin from the sidelines.

We heard songs on cassettes, on our ancient 25 year old 2-in-1 till couple of years ago. The color TV happened in 1996. Although my job was basically with computers, we didn't have a desktop at home till almost 1999-2000. Office was enough. Laptops happened at home n 2007. And the ability to play audio and video cd's on the system meant no one bothered about stand alone audio-video contraptions for DVD's and CD's.

The Internet was however happening and the daughter once entered some quiz competition on the MTV site and ended up winning a Sony DVD player, which appeared without warning one day at noon, in a big box. We saw a few movies there after connecting it to the TV. The daughter simply knew how it all worked. We didn't and still don't have a clue on how to use it.

These days, it seems , the big thing is Home Theatre Systems. I don't understand, why those that avidly buy these, still continue to see movies in multiplexes, eating outrageously priced snacks in non biodegradable containers. Unless , of course, one gets drunk on power, fiddling with a remote, and noise cancelling cordless headphones.

We have all the stuff for free; the home itself is a theatre; with curtains, crises, laughter, tears, food and all, and there is so much noise of the traffic and boys playing downstairs that its not possible to cancel. Anything.

Same goes for the phones. We were among the last to give up our black rotary phone in the late 90's. The daughter was given the first cell phone in 2005 when she started college and had to travel big distances. The parents got cell phones a few years later, and neither of them dare to do any opening and checking of sims, batteries and stuff, while the daughter merrily figures out all kinds of connections,cables,uploads etc etc. and teaches her parents stuff again an again, and then gives up.

The latest excitement is Skype. One had heard about it , but not tried it, because you always had chats and stuff happening anyway. Besides, the Internet access configuration at one point did not allow Skype.

So it came to pass, that this morning, I was on Skype with my son in the US, having a general chat, and my household help S. who has been the subject of several blog posts turns up. Normally she has seen me with a headphone, listening to songs that play on my blog.

This time she saw me talking in Marathi, and she figured out , that it was my son I was talking to.

As per the very wonderful custom we follow, she made some tea for the two of us and came to give me my cup.

Her eyes lit up, and she hung around. She has seen my son as a little boy, and taken great pride in his progress. She doesn't understand what he is studying at what level,but is totally impressed. I called out to her and asked her if she wanted to speak to him.

She nods. I give her the headphone to put on. And she speaks .

"कसा आहेस ?" "(=How are you? )". She smiles , looking at the screen.

"आभ्यास वगैरे ठीक चाललाय न ?" "(Are your studies going OK ?)". Nods.

"सगळी ठीक आहेत. माझ्या मुलाचं लग्न झालं गेल्या महिन्यात ...." "(Everything is fine. My son got married last month....")

"आई साठी चहा आण्त्ये, तुला आणू का ? :-)" "(I am bringing your Mom some tea : want me to bring you some ?"....) .

"बर आता तुझ्या आईशी बोल " "(OK. Now speak to your Mom....)"

She smiled and looked at me. I helped her remove the headphones which she passed over to me. After a while I finished speaking to my son, and she stood there, simply stunned with the stuff.

"अग्गोबया ! अगदी शेजारच्या खोलीत असल्यासारखं ऐकू येत होतं ! किती छान !" "(Oh wow! It sounded as if he was speaking from the next room ! So nice and clear ! )"

She asked me about it . She thought it had to do with cell phones, and I told her it happened through the PC. Told her it was called Skype.

I could see her mind ticking. In her 1.5 room house occupied by 3 sons, 3 daughters-in-law, 2 grandchildren and herself, one son had kept a PC, on which he did data entry from home to earn a living.

S. has no clue about the Internet. She has seen the PC function as a movie screen, and she has seen me typing; she has also heard me listening to songs as I write. now she thinks the PC is a massive telephone.

I tell her , this telephone thing is free. She is thrilled to bits. God knows who she is going to call. I know she has a married niece in Ohio. And I don't think her son is connected to the Net.

"I must tell my son. What did you say the name was ? Aaik ? "

I thought this name was brilliant.

"Aaik" means "Listen!" in my language !

This was such a great introduction of new technology for S.

I didn't feel like correcting the name she had selected . " Aaik !"

Unlike me, who kept deflecting technology as it kept arriving, here was S, embracing the new stuff.

And I thought it so totally fitting and cool that to her, Skype was "Aaik". "Listen"...

Skype .

Sounds like a compromise between the sky and a pipe.


Maybe the Google types will get some ideas on names now. From S.


  1. Yes, Aaik is a good name. Maybe you should just trademark the name.
    And it is also true that those who buy Home Theatre systems are the ones who go out and watch movies. I wonder why!

  2. I tried Skype once, but ended up chatting by typing so it was not for me. I can 'instant message' without the hassle of Skype.

    The electronic age is leaving me behind, too. I don't have a cell phone or blue tooth or a flat panel TV or a home theater. I never thought I would become an old fuddy duddy, but it has happened.

  3. LOL !

    Such is the power of the net and technology to all those that embrace it ! ;) Not all of the technology is good, nor is it 'bad' by itself. Technology is a tool it is our use / misuse that causes angst !

    She seems to be a remarkable lady, in a remarkable household ! Someday i must meet her and 'aaik' to her !


    thanks for sharing !

  4. 'AAIK' Indeed :) now go ahead and trademark it before abother zuckerberg copies it, passes it as his own and becomes the youngest millionaire !
    (now u know why it hurts me...we are the same age and unlike him i desperately need to look forward to the pay-day ! ;))

    btw, are you on Facebook kaku ? :)


  5. So sweet....Aaik huh !!! :) :)

    Suranga, I just need to tell at this point of time, that I tremendously fail in the concept of learning the mobile games and fast typing of smses on a mobile, while my daughters do them in a breeze...I can type fast on my comp I prefer the qwerty keyboard for mobiles too... ;)

  6. Super-sweet post. I luv 'Aaik' too :)