last night I was listening to the melodious Hindi track Chitteee aayee hai Watan ki and it took me on a nostalgic ride. Quite an overtly sentimental song on distances, patriotism and missing loved ones, especially for a Hyderabadi like me who is on a holiday in Seattle. Not surprisingly it sounded a bit dated, not because people abroad don’t miss home anymore but because technology has conquered time and space.
Even a decade ago, we were worried when our kith and kin went to faraway lands to find work. Those were days when even a long-distance phone call would be a challenge. The time lag between sentences were enough to make the gap seem wider. Even an average call would be just a few minutes and to let home know that they are alive. Now things are different. There is WhatsApp, Viber and of course Skype is the limit. All these came into our lives a few years ago, but the way people have caught on to these modes of communication is quite amazing.
I know of a friend who sits in UK looking at the new paint on the wall back home thousands of miles away in India. In some sense it does not matter if it is United States of Ammuguda or America, everyone is Skyping away. A mother-in-law in India can even jolly well explain (nag?) her son and daughter-in-law the rituals of a family tradition elaborately on a video call. Plus the advantage of things not getting messy when either of the parties is cheesed off with the other. One of them simply needs to hang-up and walk away. Seriously this is good stuff. Students in the city, I am told, connect with inspiring NRIs to hear their story and get motivated.
Some friends I know have used technology for varied purposes like learning classical art-forms with teachers in home-country to match-making and interviewing prospects. All they need is good net-connectivity which is catching on in most towns and cities in India. Now obviously it is far better in our tech-hub called Hyderabad where ‘connect, connections and connectivity’ are only getting better by the day.
Does this mean that nobody needs to visit home anymore? Or that relationships are all getting virtual versus real? Obviously not. The fondness of going back home for festivals and weddings is still unmatched. The eagerness to hug family and friends, ruffle their hair lovingly, get into the ‘touch and feel’ shopping mode despite all the online shopping we do, relish homemade finger-licking food are still heavenly. But the time gap between these home visits has reduced in a way. It no longer feels like crossing the seven seas. Relatives and family are just a dial away. Even neighbours in the same apartment are Skyping it up instead of walking down a few sets of stairs. Chitti aayi hai is now a text message in your phone inbox and that too free of cost.
(The writer is a popular TV show host, radio jockey, professional singer… and most importantly, a hardcore Hyderabadi)