What are we doing with our time?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

You are already laughing loudly, eh?

The title of this post is to blame. How on earth can I ask this question when I'm a past master at letting time slip away from my grasp?

The truth is that I couldn't help but notice this ill that plagues civilizations the world over.

Once, when I was 7, I’d visited an IISCO bigwig’s house with my Dad. And I had spotted something that has been etched in my memory ever since!

It was a telephone table. A piece of furniture devoted exclusively to the seemingly ancient telephone and all its accompaniments. These tables had an integrated arrangement for seating purposes, the top-most surface was flat, solid wood and lastly, there was a drawer for the Yellow Pages( well, what else did you expect? ).

Initially, I used to think that these people were ultra-posh. I thought that if they can have a dedicated item of furnishing for something as routine and banal as telephoning, then how well-equipped must they be for the other aspects of their lives?

Rubbish. Now, I’ve realized that the telephone table has evolved simply because dialing was so effing tiring! You had to insert your finger corresponding to the hole corresponding to the number you want to dial, and haul it around to the stop. That was not half as bad the excruciating wait during which the dial would return to its actual position with a sickening whirr. One could almost feel one’s hair growing during the wait!

So, there you have it - I’m going to turn 18 this June, and already I’ve seen so much change during the course of my short stay here on this planet.

Data accessing is another thing that has speeded up exponentially. Earlier, our Dads would have to shower, dress up, and cycle to the library if they had to get some information. Then they would have to sign a card corresponding to the book they needed, sit down, write what they required in a notebook and then cycle back home, which would leave them totally deflated.

Now, of course, all I need to do is bang in the necessary words in a search bar on the net, and voila! Pages of material present themselves to me in a jiffy. Come to think of it, I become incandescent with impatience when the desired webpage takes more than a microsecond to appear!

When I take note of all the time saved in a typical life through the things that now make our daily jobs much quicker – cell phones, computers, microwave ovens, dishwashers, ATM machines, drive-through restaurants etc - I always end up wondering why we haven't all achieved the precision of Swiss watches in managing our time in the eternity we seemingly have. But we haven't, because we've filled it with other things, and all of them are still, to tell you the truth, too slow.

The truth is, time can never be sufficient for our needs! The guy who said ‘Time is Money’ was spot-on! Despite there being so many things that supposedly save us time, we still don’t have time for simple things like doing our homework, performing a chore for mom, buying something for Dad, cleaning up our cluttered workstation, washing our vehicles, and so on!

All of this sometimes makes me wonder if going backwards is the way forward!