1920's to 2020's
Before you jump the gun, let me clarify that this piece is not drawing a parallel of the Spanish Flu and Covid19. Nu-uh, so don't even go there.
Now go on reading, this is one of my favorite insights.
Two days ago, I was missing my grandfather more than I usually do, which got me to my latest reflection. How would our grandparents be, if they had access to social media the way that we do?
Documenting each and almost everything which would be saved on the cloud forever? We have this tendency of seeing family in the relationship we have with them instead of them as individual people, don't we? But what if we got to see what they were like before we got to know them?
I mean, my dada on paper was a freedom-fighter, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a writer, a friend, and all of that but beyond this surface, he was so much more. Lucky for me, I had the privilege of knowing him intrinsically before losing him on the 10th of September, 2010.
Born on the 16th of December 1925, Nawabshah, Pakistan, Gobindram Tirathdas Chandiramani was the son of a very mediocre postmaster and a conventional housewife. I to date am not too sure of how many siblings he had but I did learn about him having an elder brother and a sister. At the age of 19, or 20, dada had joined the freedom fighter movement against the British for an Independent India. He would write slogans, poems, articles on his goals of when they would arrive at that celebrated day, and run in groups and rallies, and marches, and all of the works. Imagine if he and his friends/colleagues had access to Twitter or Facebook back then? Even funnier, imagine them having access to Instagram stories or Snapchat where every little plan, move or action would be documented and shared on social channels?
Now retracting back to an undigitized 1940's, Independent India came at the price of a further divide, following which dada's family relocated from their ancestral soil across the borders to a little village called Nashik, in Maharashtra.
Not long after in the 1950's, dada got married to a girl that he had been in love with, since the time that he first saw her back in Pakistan. By the good fortune of the universe, she and her family too had moved to that exact same little village of Maharashtra, after having spent more than six months at a refugee camp in Hyderabad. Imagine in a time and age of no Facebook, no WhatsApp, no Google maps; and yet she still somehow found landed in this little village. She, the seventeen-year-old girl who my dada would pine for back in Pakistan, ladies and gentlemen, grew old to be my dadi. It was purely, and wholly the universe in motion, working its magic.
I can't help but wonder, that had he have had access to all of the socials that we do, would he have been a player? I mean he was well-established and very much aware of the Casanova that he was but would having socials have him alternating between DMs or would he have had one constant like he did, back in the day?
Now the reason I pen this down is that I was tickled by a passing thought...back in the day of zero digitalism Dada was an avid writer. He would often lock himself in a room, that was furnished with vinyl records, his typewriter, his prized rotary phone which was only used for important communication, his point and snap camera treasured for occasions, and cabinets filled with tiny bottles of oud. He would endorse the idea of wanting a fresh fragrance for every new day because no two days were the same. So, I got wondering, if dada was living in today's world, I cannot imagine the level of fascination he would have, having access to Instagram and posting his dailies via stories, or the kind of status updates he'd have on Facebook.
I am amused thinking of what his profile would look like on LinkedIn post Independent India. Or his discovery of Spotify, with it automatically detecting the kind of music he'd want to listen to.
I would love to have witnessed his delight if he ever got to living through an era where all his favourites that he locked himself up with that took up an entire room - his music, his camera, his rotary phone, his typewriter, his books; all of them have been capsulized into one little device, and can now fit in your palm. I wish he got to experience this too.
Even more, I am amused at wondering if would have ended up being a blogger, or a poet, or a YouTuber, or maybe even a digital activist. I have this mental picture imagining dada listening to audiobooks on airpods, instead of reading a normal book. Taking it a notch further, dada always had a pipe in his mouth, and a tin of tobacco in his pocket - would he have eventually switched from that and instead converted into being a vaper?
A part of me envies the old world charisma that he got to live through and pass over by sharing those stories with me; but a part of me wishes he had access to all that I do today just so that I could selfishly see more of what he was like, what he sounded like, what his thoughts looked like.
While penning this, it saddens me to realize that now, ten years later after he's gone I barely have a handful of pictures of him, one of his dress ties, and a bounty of his memories. How wonderful would it have been for me to be able to go back to his Instagram profile to revisit him, or read his musings to console and remind me of my thoughts being not too far apart from his, as an individual? How wonderful would it be if I could just Google him and find a list of pages synced with his doings? How wonderful, no?
Social media and digitizing everything has been under heavy scrutiny but let's not forget that it has enabled us to leave a mark of our very individualistic selves, long after we are gone too. I know this is probably too abrupt, but this is all I leave you with, today.
What would life be like if 1920's were got to 2020? What will life be like from 2020 to 3020, now that we have tools to leave an everlasting imprint after us?
With love and a rambling mind,
Stories By Giggles
P.S: Since Gobindram Tirathdas Chandiramani never unfortunately met with Google, this is my meek little attempt of ensuring there's a slight trace of him on the cloud. He would have loved all things social, I'm sure.