We were amused and amazed even while we shopped for the pair touch screen mobiles. We wanted something with big visible numbers and fonts that would be easy to read. We bought good sturdy expensive covers for the mobiles because we knew Amma was very particular about maintaining all her things properly.
And after the 80th birthday celebrations of my father were over, all three of us – his middle aged children along with his five grandchildren presented both Amma and Pappaji the set of matching smart phones – one in black and the white one for Amma……she would take good care of it – we all knew that!
Amma continues to struggle with the new phone even after two years. Pappaji knows how to use it effectively – but asks his grandson for help when he sees something new.
For days after that Amma would call up one of us on her new phone and ask us all her doubts. During my stay there, I – her daughter would sit with her whenever she was free and explain how the phone worked. She would note it all down on her notepad in her own handwriting and language. For a while she was annoyed with us for spending so much money – but she was also so happy that her children thought she was capable of using something so technical. She can use the phone to make calls -which in essence is what she was doing with her previous phone too.
But the mobile gives her mobility and she can talk over the phone even while she is lying down in the afternoon!
Another one of my senior most relatives got a tablet as a gift from her grandson. She was so immersed in the several music files that he had uploaded into the tablet especially for her that she would spend hours trying to figure it out and it would always be with a smile. She would look at all the pictures that he had saved into the tablet for her and would think about all the good times that they had spent with the family members.
Another sensitive daughter – in- law simply introduced her mother-in-law to the world of Facebook. She was an educated lady who had worked as a company secretary for a long time –so she did not need much guidance. And the daughter-in-law was patient enough to explain things to her in a kind and understanding manner.
Skype talks, chats on WhatsApp – a little basic education is enough to understand such apps. And such talks and chats help our senior generation to keep in touch with their children and grand children who are pursuing their careers abroad.
It doesn’t take much to bridge this great divide that we seem to have created between two generations. Some people perhaps call it a communication gap. Unmatched expectations lead to a lot of frustration. Seniors can be pretty demanding and become aggressive when the younger generation tells them that they cannot match their expectations all the time. They have to lead their lives and life is pretty tough these days – long commutes, long working hours, high tuition fees, inflation……..discussing such matters can lead to umpteen arguments and can further bring about a rift between the two generations.
When a softer mode of communication and frequent messages are exchanged – seniors can get a glimpse of the real life problems that their juniors are facing. The forwards on WhatsApp, the inspirational and fun quotes on mail and Facebook can give anyone and everyone a glimpse of the kind of thinking and attitude the younger generation has. The posters and the pictures that are uploaded can give us a good glimpse of their stance on life.
And slowly, when our seniors are exposed to this kind of a medium, they will begin to shift their perspectives and thinking. The logic is simple – they are able to relate to the problems and attitudes of the younger generation which was nonexistent earlier. Youngsters had given up trying to explain things to their parents and grandparents ……because they simply could not understand what they were trying to say.
Digi India can be created. The digital medium can REALLY cement the bonds within a family. India has a solid and sound family structure. The joint family did give way to the nuclear family…….but people still think a lot before they even consider a divorce. We believe in making sacrifices and compromises for the greater good of the family and digitalism will help cement all those cracks that were appearing within the structure of the family.
When we extend this same help to our professional organizations, we will be helping a lot of semi educated and uneducated people to recreate and reshape the quality of their lives.
Introduce such passionate unemployed or uneducated youngsters into the world of technology – and we can literally see them put it to good use. They know what they are lacking in their lives. They don’t want to be left behind too. They hold people with high flying jobs in great esteem and given half a chance – they will do anything to generate that kind of progress in their lives too.
I was an ordinary chalk, duster and blackboard kind of a teacher. The sari culture had given way to the salwar kameez culture. And I belonged to the salwar kameez kind of teacher. Free after school training sessions were made mandatory for all teachers. Teachers grumbled. So the school relaxed the after school mandate and allowed the teachers to undergo training during their free periods after coordinating their schedule with the computer department.
Well, honestly……98% of them were disinterested and simply gave up after a couple of sessions. I would carry bundles of papers and piles of books home to correct them. I had a son who was growing up and needed all my attention academically and personally even at home. But I was interested. I hosted quizzes, I learned to generate power point presentations for my classes, learned to use the projector and assemble and detach it after each class. I typed my own question papers and ensured that it was full of new images that would make my students think before they wrote that answer. I had fun. My students had more fun.
And here I am today – writing about my experiences to you……….this could have never happened if the school I worked a long while back had not given us quality free training at our convenience.
Whoever says India will take a long while to progress………does not know the zest and zeal and passion of Indians. Perhaps it took the other 98% of the teachers a longer time to grasp the far sighted vision of the school principal. But they did get the message and then latched on to the training programmes later on.
Technology has the immense capacity to bring the entire world together. And if we all lend a hand and help one another we can forge stronger bonds and relationships. A balanced approach between the real and the virtual worlds can make us progress at a faster pace. And with stronger familial bonds – we can bridge the great divide of communication and lead happier and more satisfied lives too.