You know the clichés? Age is just a number, or the other one, you’re never too old to learn something new. You know what? They’re true.
Take my father for illustration purposes. At 85, if he wants to get to the bottom of something new or different, he’ll do it. In his own way.
He’s from the generation which went for most of their lives without technology as we know it – the same technology that we cannot do without, today.
The height of technology for him was the calculator I guess, which he claimed he used because it was there under his nose. However, he was never satisfied with the result which showed up on the little screen until he had cross checked it with a paper and pen and it never failed to surprise him, that the calculator could be right.
Then he retired from actively practicing medicine around the age of 75. That’s roughly when we gifted him with a smart phone. He was quite like a little boy with an amazing new toy. He took some time to grasp the basics, after that there was no looking back. He began studying it like he would a patient with a rare and new disease. He could spend hours on end with it and it was a familiar sight to see him on his sofa by the window, legs stretched out, head bent, focusing as much as his one eye would let him; having lost his other to a botched cataract surgery.
The joy on his face when he began to unravel the mysteries and treasures in the little rectangular device was priceless. He discovered YouTube and other online music sites and the house would reverberate to the musical notes of his favourite classical singers as he nodded his head and beat his fingers in time to them.
Then he gifted himself a laptop and that was literally a Pandora’s Box – yet another cliché but true again! It opened up a whole new world for him. However user-friendly things were, it could all be quite confusing for an old-timer not familiar with technicalities, so he asked around. He asked us, he asked his grandchildren, he even asked the neighbours’ young boys. And he wrote down instructions, right from how to open the laptop to signing in to his account, step by step on little scraps of paper.
The day he discovered that he could use the email to connect with people in power and various authorities was a red-letter day. A road dug up in the area and left like that? Non-functioning of light poles? Garbage piling up on the road? He would instantly dash off a mail to the local municipal councilor, in his signature style of one-finger typing. We called it his fastest finger first!
And that is how when my parents stay with me in Abu Dhabi was extended in 2020 due to the sudden lockdown and closure of airports, he didn’t sit still. As soon as we heard about Air India’s Vande Bharat Mission, he made it his life’s mission to send mails to everyone concerned, requesting to be considered for repatriation, with reasons neatly put down in bullet points. At least one of them should respond, was his hope. One of them did! It was a pleasant surprise to receive a reply from the Aviation Minister Shri Hardeep Singh Puri’s office with a copy to the Ambassador of the Embassy of India in Abu Dhabi, informing dad that his request was being considered. Three days later we got a call informing us that their names had been put down for the 3rd repatriation flight to Mangalore.
Dad didn’t stop there. Once they reached home safely after the 14 day quarantine, he used technology and his fastest finger once again and dashed off a mail thanking the minister and all concerned for taking up his case.
So that’s yet another feat accomplished. He’s now ready to explore and conquer more horizons. Any suggestions?