Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Grand S(L/C/P)am

Reading the daily newspaper was considered a BIG deal 50 years ago. No, we didn't have folks reading out snippets in the school assembly, which was more about prayers, songs, announcements and marching in and out to music.  There was no television, just radio, and news readers then were household names.

Life was simpler.  

We didn't have a scam a day. Whenever there was one, (I remember folks talking about Pratap Singh Kairon)  the concerned people actually resigned. Newspapers didn't have so many ads. That is probably why, at home, we had to daily write a passage  or passages, from the newspaper, for handwriting practice and comprehension, both. Which helped when they had general knowledge tests at school. Communication was by word of mouth, and primarily letters.  Telegrams were generally bad news. The rotary black telephone happened in my ninth grade and was not a substitute for cycling over to a friend's to check out homework details. 

50 years on it seems to me , that both population and communication modes are going overboard. And just like scams result from certain parts of the overflowing population competing and scrambling, illegally for monetary goodies,  spams are now the result, of there being a surfeit of communication methods. Letters, telegrams, telephones, emails, cell phone messaging, anywhere calling, twitter, social media. In my time we called out to folks who appeared in balconies, and conversations continued. Today, there are five OB vans and television reporters hovering in the background.

While simple, middle class, tax paying, god fearing folks like me, look on, mouth agape , at the scams being reported , several  a day,  it boggles the mind as to why , one receives the type of spam one does, which Google so successfully manages to detect.  

Like I am told I have the 1,000,000.00 GBP (One Million Pound Sterling) from the Coca-Cola Online Award 2012........

Like  I am supposed to have  won £90,000.00 Pounds and a BlackBerry Torch 9810 in the ongoing BLACKBERRY ASIA PROMO 2012........

Like the Minister Trust Funds of Benin Republic tells me, that I need to pick  my ($5,000) payment by western union, and I will receive it every day till I receive the 1.500,000.00 United State Dollars.........

Like I am congratulated for winning the British National Lottery  of 1,000,000.00 (British Pounds), drawing  held on the 30th August 2012 in London Uk.....

Like there are the  YAHOO LOTTERY RESULTS 2012, from Thailand, where I am supposed to have won, ONE MILLION UNITED STATE DOLLARS ( $1, 000. 000.00USD).

Like a letter from a husband and wife team who have won the  Euro Millions Jackpot Lottery of £101 million (Pounds) on October 11, 2011 and have voluntarily decided to donate the sum of £1,000,000.00 Pounds to me,  as a "charity" !

There is even a spam where  to entice me further , it says, "You have gained a Chevrolet Cruze Car, &  the sum of £300,000.00 GBP from CHEVROLET MOTORS.

While I struggle to surface for Mumbai's polluted air from under the onslaught  of these windfalls, and successfully manage to click on the "delete all spam" button, I recall reading about folks replying to Nigerian scams and getting cheated. I am puzzled as to how some folks make a career of sending such mails, some encrusted with malware in attachments, which they urge you to unload.

And then I recall hearing something which could be both scam and spam. Talking to someone who deals with computer virus removals and the required  packages, I was shocked to hear that some virus removal software companies, have a "new virus department", that creates new versions of viruses (some of whom travel in the spam), to which the companies then provide cures. 

Somewhat like Licence Raj.  Someone makes the rules stiffer, so someone can make fortunes specializing in "looking the other way".  Like delaying water connections to buildings so the tanker lobby will benefit.  Like looking the other way as road contractors make a mess of paver blocks, and shoddy mixing of cement with vague stuff.     

Like our esteemed political representatives, who have successfully stalled  every Parliament session this year, shouting about scams, defending scams and exhibiting reprehensible behaviour,  enabling a  quiet hurried passage of some other important bills which would have otherwise benefited from a debate. Like the only time debate happened on the Lokpal bill, someone snatched the papers from someone else and tore them to bits in Parliament on television, followed by some playacting by those trying to right the wrong.  

If someone in school had torn up a report card because he failed, the child would have been rusticated from school. 

But these are amazing times

While we shout about scams, spams, millions of rupees, lakhs and crores and so on,  go to your bank and ask for a bundle of 50 Rs notes, needed by those who pay in real time for vendors, transport and so on. 

They don't have the notes in stock.  Maybe it is an indication of something. One times it was the 2 Rs notes , then the 5 Rs notes, that disappeared. We simply will not mention the coins. Now a sheaf of 50 Rs currency notes not available in banks. 

Telephones are no longer telephones, unless they have net surfing, music , camera, video, GIS and other advanced acronymed facilities.   The bigger , the better.

 Someone once wrote a book called "Don't sweat the small stuff".  Someone also wrote a book called "Small is beautiful".

The sad part is, "small" as a concept, is slowly becoming extinct. 

There is "nano" but no "small"  anymore. 

Except things like kids , birds, and flowers....Because no one has been able to plant a bug in that amazing system designed with so many checks and balances .........



  1. Yes,times have hanged and at times I find it difficult to catch up with present generation.
    Those days,picking up morning paper and reading headlines was a pleasure we used to look forward to.Now,mobile,twitter etc updates you every second.
    Less,spoken of the scams ,better we would be

  2. Sometimes I feel every two steps we take forwards, four steps we go backwards... :-|

  3. I know a family from whose ids mails were circulated without their knowledge and their friends send the spammers money too. Luckily, they were able to recover them immediately though. The police in Nigeria caught them right while they were drawing the money out of western Union. The things we saw and used are going to be items in a museum in years. :(

    1. Found-in-Folsom, Yes, there are some gullible types that reply to emails. But what can you do about emails, that cause problems and install malware, simply because you read them ?

  4. Do you think the generation that saw the first newspapers roll out said something similar about them? Did they lament about everything laid out neat in columns and not beeing supplied by human messengers? Wel, yes, I am being naughty. ;)

    1. Newspapers, probably replaced or confirmed certain rumors. And came once a day. And how I wish I was there when they first started ! :-))

  5. But I thought I was the one that won that Coca Cola award. How disappointing...ha ha. Great post. Oh for the simple life...it will go full circle I think. Technology was meant to make simpler and stress free - what a joke that turned out to be.

    1. Lilly, OK. I'll part with the Coca Cola award and send it to you. ... or would you prefer the Yahoo International Lottery ?

  6. Suranga, together we may gave zillions in the coffers and who says zillion is not a figure? I am not sure about the little ones though; I've had my honour punctured by a toddler barely out of his pram, for the humbke crime of tickling his chubby cheek.

  7. Replies
    1. USP, I am intimidated by zillions, and the number of zeros. Give me honors punctured by little kids anyday. They are honest.

  8. This is very good work. I enjoyed this article and appreciate your viewpoints.
    From Perfect Shot

  9. Hey,
    Are you the person I think you are?
    Cue- ex chair of English at Kuwait University??

    1. The Nutcracker, No, I am not who you think I am, I am simply who I think I am.