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Tech-tonic shift

Author: admin

Grappling with technology may be cumbersome in the silver years, but it is totally worth it, writes Shyamola Khanna

Technologically challenged gizmo junkie’—that’s what my kids call me. Can’t blame them. My desire for acquiring the latest tech toys and painful travails while trying to get up, close and personal with each of them is common knowledge in our household.

I have been working on a personal computer for over 15 years now, having bid goodbye to the old typewriter. I learnt on the job; friends very patiently made corrections on page layouts, while teaching me about ‘justify’, ‘left aligned’ and ‘right aligned’. I use my desktop to write on all kinds of subjects and have the pleasure of seeing my byline in magazines once a week.

Then, I remember this old digital camera my daughter gifted me when she got a fancy new one. I started fantasising about shooting pictures that would accompany my stories as full-blown centre spreads. It took me no time to realise there was no rocket science involved in using a digital camera—just ‘aim and shoot’, as simple as that.

The next step in my organic evolution was uploading pictures to the Picasa web album. My daughter gave me instructions over the phone from Bangalore: “Right click on this”, “left click on that”, “once the menu scrolls down, click on ‘upload’ and it will be done”. My husband has always complained that I did not know my left from my right. It has taken me all these years to finally believe him, for I find myself clicking away on the left side of the mouse when I am supposed to click on the right.

As I was travelling a lot and writing about my experiences, I convinced myself that I needed a laptop. A local dealer got me a Dell and showed how to get it started. I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down, raring to go. To my horror, I just could not open it. After tinkering with it for some time, I called the dealer. He came by, flipped it open and told me how to get on with Microsoft Word. Next morning, despite repeated attempts, the laptop refused to open. I tried shoving the sides apart. But soon enough, I gave up as I could hear some hinges move. I got back on the phone with the dealer and, sure enough, he was annoyed. Sheepishly, I watched him yank it open once again, this time realising all this while I had been trying to pull the laptop open at the wrong end. The penny dropped; red-faced, I thanked the dealer for his patience.

Meanwhile, my son, who knew that some of the pictures I shot had made it to print, gifted me a beautiful Cannon 500D, along with a tripod and other accessories. My son-in-law got me one of those backpacks that could accommodate the camera and the laptop. I was all set for my trip to the Andaman Island. As far as the gadgets were concerned I was good to go, but soon realisation dawned that I was no longer 18 and strong enough to carry both the laptop and the camera along with accessories on my back. Soon, I began to find excuses for avoiding either the camera or the laptop as I went around exploring the island.

On my recent trip to China, I carried only the camera and made little notes on my regular little notebook. I did my own little ‘knob-turning’ on the camera—from ‘action’ to ‘portrait’ to ‘landscape’ was easy enough. But as luck would have it, the battery charger of the camera began to give me trouble. Simultaneously, my mobile phone charger also decided to give up. I called up my photography guru and asked for help. He took the charger home, charged his own camera battery and told me there was nothing wrong with it. As I sit here wondering what is possibly wrong with my brain cells that process technical information, I can hear my daughter yelling, “Now I know where I get it from!”

Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
February 2018