The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

My Photo

I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

To Clamber up the Ladder

Do they not define blog as a public diary? Quite interesting. I just remember how much of a thrill it was in our teenage to sneak a peek into other's diary. And when one makes it public, the object of charm turns into an ordinary brag. Sometimes, I feel public diary is nothing but an ordinary oxymoron.

A feeling of obsolescence could be upsetting, especially when one finds oneself intellectually challenged by those trendy gadgets with their verbose manuals and frightening controls. Of course, they promise a new level of confidence and a convenience that could be envy of the have-nots, but secretly they tease those helpless souls who find it difficult to master the tricks of operation. A lone switch here and panel of buttons there surrounded by small touch-screens, a port here and a plug there with inscriptions atop the enigmatic icons and alluring LED indicators--what they actually disseminate are the frightening signals of "touch-me-at-your-risk". Not only that, one is clearly reduced to an object of ridicule by the quick-witted impatient teenagers when it comes to catch the intricate user tips of those trendy gizmos. Say the use of mobile phones. It is such an instrument that knows who to respond. Aha! The teenagers! They need at one place all the media for use and entertainment, almost everything except breakfast. Their mobiles serve them the melodious recipe of music, snap pictures, help updating contacts, beep the wake-up alarm, keep their time and serve as stop watch. They browse internet, calculate sums, play Soduku, send message, consult calendar and get reminded about your friend's birthday and so forth. But is the wonder instrument really kind to all?

I never knew that one day all the devices I used to handle for convenience would suddenly go out of work and leave me helpless in the midst of the user manuals. My cell phone before retiring into the trash box nearly made me deaf. So feeble was its sound! My laptop, with its battery exhausted and replenishment unavailable, needed a life-line all the while from the nearest power panel and then I realised I badly needed a new one. Then I thought I should not postpone my decision to buy an i-pod under the false hope that one day its price would be low and affordable. So it was also to be bought. That is not all. I realised I needed a digicam too. The last I had a working camera was in late nineties, an SLR Pentax that I lost to a bad repairer. I lost it before I was out of my learning phase and now that photography has become a lot easier with the advent of its digital avatars, I thought I should soon have one of them to fiddle and finish my unfinished self-learning.

To learn swimming one has to jump into the water and that is the only way. If owning gadgets and gizmos is so very confidence-building, then why not own them? Owning is learning--it is as simple as that.

And now I have a brand new laptop, a Sony VaioVGN-CS17G off the shelf, and the sleek-looking red thing makes me feel good. It's awesome and yet it's frightening. With its Windows Vista operating system so very complicated, it has literally shoved me beyond the limit of my grasp. I had not felt so miserable even while learning, or rather self-learning, Linux operating system and its constituent desktop suites like Gnome and KDE. Here things have taken a worse shape. There could be so many tabs and so many controls! When the system opens, invitations gloriously pop up from the hidden corners of the desktop offering to make use of the guided tours and tutorials, but the question remains: where's the time to read all these stuff? To add to the hassle, the laptop has a 60-day trial of MS Office suite and all the time it asks me to get registered with its 25-character key. What kind of generosity is this and where's that blessed key? And when I actually tried MS-Word 2007, it's simply off-putting-a jungle of tabs meaning confusion, a total confusion! I even don't find where the SAVE button is!! Oh no, it's over there, at the top left! Never mind, I still remember cntrl+s to save. If only the older versions of those keyboard shortcuts of Wordstar days worked here, like cntrl+k+d to save and exit!

Then the next one to define distinction is a cell phone, a NOKIA N-73 with all the features that a mid-range mobile phone should offer. It has music player, web browser, Adobe Reader, Real Player, a camera of some 3-megapixel resolution plus other usual capabilities of phoning and messaging. My familiarity with NOKIA brands made the transition easy, yet I'm stuck with that GPRS net browsing. First, it took a month to activate GPRS with a lot of running around and now that the service provider has activated it, I find it really difficult to browse those miniscule text pages even with my specs on. It's so very slow and many a time it is impossible to go past the initial hurdles of the home page and the pop-ups to reach the really needed web page. Now in the name of connectivity I'll have to use it as a modem but God only knows if I'd finally be able to activate that supplying all the parameters it demands. Stuck at Nokia PC Suite, I'm steel reading the user manual and asking all those who I think can help me. Maybe that is the best way.

Should I say I'm happy about the digicam I have come to possess? Yeah, to some extent. It's again a Sony brand, red in colour, with a touch screen and sliding lens and it promises to give 10-megapixel resolution and 5.0 X zooming. I have so far taken a few random snaps, say those trial clicks of people and sceneries, but the best snap is yet to come. There are many things to learn; even with the digital convenience things would not come just like that. In fact after reading the manual--both its brochure and electronic versions--I've landed myself in a quagmire of confusion. The people I approach for help are the ones with some experience in photography. They are quick to understand what I expect of my camera and tell me clearly that either I should remain content with the result I get or go for one SLR, a real good one for professional experience. An SLR? Oh no, not again! Better I first enrol myself in a photography school and then try to handle a camera of that high sophistication. For the present I should better curb my expectation and turn the pages of the manuals for the second and third time...

An instrument for perfect music, sleek and smooth--it has to be an i-pod Nano. And that's the best my money could buy. More expensive ones are available, like more price could always buy better goods, but what more should one need than an 8-GB of music space? Unlike the other gadgets, this one comes with just one slip of paper mentioning only a few tips of operation. So brief is the user manual-- lo, where does one go to get started? One has to quickly read those voluminous text spread across the net--starting from Apple's own home page and then crawling around the bulletin boards of the user communities--in order that he is able to use it. One has to download 65 MB of application to set it up. One should possess the gadgets of connectivity before one decides to possess an i-pod. It needs a laptop, or for that matter a USB port, to draw power for its sustenance. I just fail to understand why on earth they should make the machine so complicated! Say for instance, loading photographs into an i-pod: if new photos are to be loaded the old one's will go!

I just wonder: Are these hassles going to do something good to me and my confidence level?
A. N. Nanda