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Posted at: Dec 8, 2017, 12:40 AM; last updated: Dec 8, 2017, 12:40 AM (IST) clinches the deal clinches the deal

Raj Kadyan

PEOPLE of my vintage are caught in a time warp. Having grown up on finger-tip counting, we look at the latest technological intrusion with resolute hostility. We even resist the introduction of calculators under the ideological cloak of children’s need to learn — and cram — tables. 

But the march of time is unstoppable. We can neither ignore the developments, as they have become part of our daily life, nor can we submit to the intrusion willingly. Having raised the red flag loudly, and often, we are, at best, flailing-arms entrants into the world of gizmo wizardry. Most of us still look for opportunities to snipe at the developments under the ‘missing the good old days’ guise. 

About two years ago, we spent the summer in Canada. There were six grandchildren between the ages of going-on-three and nine. Every morning, the older five would climb into our bed, each armed with an iPad and a don’t-disturb-me visage. Their mothers proudly told us how the kids had learnt colours, shapes and numbers on the iPads. But my scepticism remained unshaken.

The youngest had not yet been technologically ‘corrupted’. I thought I would tutor her like in the days of yore, using nature as an aid. I would take her out, count the trees and explain the colours from plants and flowers. The square lawn and a round pond came in handy for explaining shapes. I even explained directions using the sun as a reference point. She showed keen interest. I felt satisfied with the progress. Thereafter, whenever we spoke on phone, I would check back to see if she was keeping in touch with nature. Her affirmative response always made me experience a sense of triumph. 

Time has sturdy wings and flies fast. For the next two years, we could not visit them, but our phone contacts continued. In my mind, she was still a toddler. I would often ask her about nature... whether she knew different animals. She always said yes. The son had since relocated to the UK, near a racecourse. I visualised the family visiting the Sunday races during summer. The prospect of the children seeing animals outside of a zoo gladdened me. Once I asked her when she last saw a horse. ‘Yesterday,’ she said.   Expectantly, I asked her where. ‘It is on page 8,’ she replied with unembarrassed frankness.   

My dreams of keeping her focus away from gadgets to outdoor nature received a big jolt. But stubbornness is synonymous with old age. Wishing away the lurking doubts, I resolved to make amends during my next visit. 

However, a greeting card from her on my birthday a few days later really dug in the dagger. Having smudged the top of the card with her tomato-sauce lips, she had crayon-scrawled underneath: ‘I luv you’.


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