Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Age No Bar

The glossy gizmo has been her prized possession. Ever since brother gifted the latest laptop to my mother, she carries it like an oxygen cylinder. While traveling she doesn’t mind losing her baggage, but her lappy remains close to heart. It slings smartly on her shoulders. Often we playfully remark “Mom, stop acting like the CEO of Intel!”


Living alone, my mother’s primary objective of using a computer was to video-chat with her grandchildren residing in Chicago. And guess what? I had the formidable job of familiarizing mom with the computer. As a reluctant teacher, I remember my rather insensitive comment. “Why do you need to struggle with the computer? I will book your tickets, recharge your phone and show you the family pictures.”


A week passed. Ma remained quiet, but persistent. I remained committed, but reluctant. When boredom struck mother with all its vengeance, I persuaded her to go for the senior-citizen chat sessions in the apartment. I realized my folly! She was keen to learn the computer more than the inane chatting or mundane socializing.

That the lessons required perseverance would be an understatement. For one, there were typo errors. The eye-cursor coordination needed practice. Then she had so many questions. “How can I access my account? My mail box doesn’t open. What if someone hacks my account." (Even though most of us go through similar glitches as beginners, we conveniently forget our own follies.)

Another tricky issue was that mother often forgot to select the desired icon. It compounded her confusion. Later I realized what an idiot I was. Her spectacle number had changed. Increasing the font size and new spectacles resolved the predicament.

On days when I lost patience, my son came to her rescue. “It’s so simple nani, you just have to press ‘My documents’, then ‘Create a folder’ and press ‘Install’ and….”.

When you are nineteen, patience is not exactly a virtue. Impatience comes with the territory. So each time my son imparted breezy lessons, my mother hurriedly scribbled down the steps in her diary. ‘Press start. Go to My Documents. Click on C. Select first…’ Before retiring for bed after her customary meditation, I saw mother memorizing the computer lessons from her diary.

Not the one to give up easily, mom approached rather unusual teachers - my ten year old nephew. Forget patience, age ten is synonymous with impatience. At a time when the tech savvy young boy was to impart computer lessons to his dadima, he became an adult. Almost instantly! Few minutes down the line, the child in him would take over and he would revert back to playing Lego’s, leaving behind a puzzled grandmother.

That was two years ago. Today mother books her own e-tickets, recharges her mobile phone, video chats with her grandchildren and also listens to music on her laptop. She is the first one to read my blog posts. For someone who was tech- befuddled, these are  incredible milestones. Now I know why she carries her laptop like an oxygen cylinder. Her laptop is panacea for her solitude. Just as mine is!

I feel like kicking myself for clucking with disapproval at her desire to become computer savvy. The process of learning was slow, but empowering. Why was it so difficult to realize that a desire to be a part of everything contemporary and a zest for learning needs to be applauded, not muzzled!
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70 comments:

  1. My Mom went through a similar phase after she retired. I tried...lost patience...may have snapped at her...she got hurt...

    Finally, it was my sister in law who taught her the nitty gritties :)

    This line stood out in all it's glorious eloquence //Her laptop is panacea for her solitude. Just as mine is! //

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Purba, the fact that I snapped at her made me so guilty...hence this post.

      Delete
  2. True, age is no bar for learning new things.

    Few years back, my dad asked me for computer lessons. He was taking computer classes, but the tutor there wasn't answering all the questions my dad had up its sleeve. :P

    I am the epitome of patience, so slowly, but, steadily his familiarization with the computer grew and now he is quite comfortable!

    I guess, we should take lessons from the patience which our parents showed when we were learning alphabets. Its the same circle. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We should take lessons from the patience which our parents showed when we were learning alphabets. Its the same circle.

      So nicely put.

      Delete
  3. :) reminds me when after my dad passed away I had to teach my mum how to use a mobile phone. Yep it was a struggle , it still is sometimes when she forgets to press the button to end the call and it remains connected and you can her her walking , or talking to a neighbour.

    I have to then call my neighbours to tell her to finish the call and by then all the credit has run offf ...

    Oh my i wonder what will happen if she wants to learn computer and do chatting with me or anyone else ...

    Bikram's

    and the sending of sms is hilarious .. I usually will get 6 sms for the word HELLO.. the 6th one is empty :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sms story was the same...but honestly Bikram, the way technology is advancing our kids will write such stories about us.

      Delete
    2. i am positive.. sometimes when the Tv or the playstation goes wrong I have to take help of Kids to make it right ...

      Bikram's

      Delete
  4. I had learned using it twenty years ago but my wife started using computer only recently. Like you, I didn't have much patience to teach but fortunately our son did and she is slowly progressing! So thinking of my wife, I could relate a lot to your mom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The story echoes with most...the fact that I snapped at her made me so guilty...hence this post.
      Thanks for reading.

      Delete
  5. So true! Age is no bar indeed to learn new things. :) My mom has just learnt to use the computer/laptop and thank god for that...coz I can talk to her on skype whenever i want, and dad need not be around or that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ria, Kunal has said it so beautifully...

      we should take lessons from the patience which our parents showed when we were learning alphabets. Its the same circle. :)

      Delete
  6. To Alka's Mom: Hello there, Auntie! I know you are reading this!
    I am happy that your son thought it fit to gift you a laptop. I am happier that your daughter had the patience to familiarise you with the system. But above all, I salute your irrepresible spirit who mastered an otherwise exasperating interface. It strengthens my belief in the human mind and grit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,

      Thank you so much.

      Best Wishes Always

      Delete
  7. Age should not be a bar to learning something new. Your behaviour is so like mine. I too am unable to teach my mom. Its too much for me. I have just managed to teach her how to send sms and few other things. But she does want to learn how to use a computer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rachna, Kunal has summed it up so nicely...
      we should take lessons from the patience which our parents showed when we were learning alphabets. Its the same circle. :)

      Delete
  8. my brothers have taught my mom to play cards and listen to music on her laptop.i am trying to get her to learn to drive so she can go out by herself.next my plan is to get her to recharge cell phone and book flight tickets

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sure is empowering..I salute your patience.

      Delete
  9. Lovely! Internet has become basic necessity these days. My dad who is 70+ also started using the net full time since last year. Initially he began policing and chastising the younger generations on FB, but have cooled down now :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We should take lessons from the patience which our parents showed when we were learning alphabets.

      Delete
  10. Alka,

    Hats off to her. I can well relate to her experience as I too learnt to work on computers when I was 49. I still feel lost at times but do try to learn. This keeps me in touch with what is going on. Please convey my compliments to her. Does she blog?

    Take care

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No she doesnt blog Jack...The story finds an echo with almost everyone. I only hope I havent offended her...I have to call her now.

      Delete
  11. Interesting and very thoughtful, Alka! Yes, why mustn't the elders be tech savvy? My dad spends his time peering on the stock index online;) He pays phone bills, books tickets and almost is glued to his lappy ten hours a day! And i was the one who was reluctant to teach him at first the nuances of opening a word document!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kunal has put it so nicely...
      we should take lessons from the patience which our parents showed when we were learning alphabets. Its the same circle. :)

      Delete
  12. Alka, once again a beautiful post and this is the story in every household now! My daughter too taught my father in law on much the same lines till he was computer literate and would spend many hours reconnecting with old friends and family:)Internet and computer are certainly oxygen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes,the story finds an echo with almost everyone. Thanks for reading Rahul.

      Delete
  13. Very true Alka ..its so nice to see our parents ..that urge to learn computer at this age ..trying to be tech savvy.. its so cute thou...I remember my mom-in -law who is very good in computers but still makes some mistakes n MY youngest one 4 yrs corrects her sayin ..."when will you learn"MAMA ..which sounds to me very funny since he himself is so young and cannot read ...
    its good to be bsy with computer and at the same time enjoy your fav songs ,chatting wid friends and following updates:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The story finds an echo with almost everyone.... It is empowering as much as it is entertaining.

      Delete
  14. Lovely! She carries it around like an oxygen cylinder - priceless. I've often thought in this day and age, to stay in touch with family spread out so far and wide, every parent should learn how to use two applications at least - facebook and skype. Then they would never be lonely. Perhaps some enterprising young person will sell computers with just these two basic applications - and microsoft office, and... how did I ever live without the damn thing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How did I ever live without the damn thing!ha, ha...we all did.
      Notebooks pretty much do the same...simple internet and Word applications.

      Delete
  15. Very nice. Sometime back when my sister made an email account for my mother she had surprised me by sending an email. Now she has a Facebook account. And she is pursuing her literary ambitions by sending stories to online magazines much to the surprise of her siblings and other relatives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome here after marriage...Your wife has the cutest smile ever...

      I am sure you are proud of your mother. I wish her good luck. Does she blog?

      Delete
    2. Thanks Alka, I will convey your complements to Meera.

      Amma does not blog. She writes short stories in Malayalam and post it as status update in Facebook. Some of them are published in a Malayalam online magazine called Vettam. I am planning to translate a couple of them in English, but not sure how much justice can be done to the spoken dialects used in them..

      Delete
    3. I understand. Translation sometimes is unable to retain the original flavor.The fact that her stories are published is awesome.
      Best wishes..say hi to Meera.

      Delete
  16. Absolutely agree. My mil just recently got a little computer literate. My husband helped her learn a lot of new things and now she can log into her gmail and FB accounts. She can type mails, and it is so heartening to see all that. She is not yet very familiar with webcam etc., but she is getting there. And, I showed her how she can watch her missed "balika Vadhu" episodes on youtube or colors. Technology is so wonderful, and many elders are just understanding its importance. A lovely post with a nice message.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Bang on..Technology is so wonderful, and many elders are just understanding its importance.
      Two decades on...My son is going to write such stories about me.And I am not as strong willed as my mom.

      Delete
    2. hehe It would be interesting to read what our kids will say about us two decades on :). I am sure they will be equally frustrated with us. But hats off to your mom. She did great.

      Delete
    3. You are so right...and I wont be able to complain .. son will say, "Well you wrote about nani, so can I." And whats more? My story could be very embarrassing!I am tech challenged!

      Delete
  17. He he..but wish all elders were like your mom..I haven't been able to initiate my Ma-in-law into the smart phone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really..she just has to get hooked once...

      Delete
  18. WAAAAAAYYYYYY to go!
    You know, you need the patience to learn too :) We tried giving a cell phone to my dadi, and even after best of our efforts.. she decided to not to use the thing :D

    All the best to your Mum :D

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am relieved.
    I too learnt coputer from my son.Its the same story.I am happy, I am not the only one

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its the same story. Mine is no different.
      The way technology is advancing our kids will write such stories about us.

      Delete
  20. It is indeed empowering and is more than an oxygen cylinder. And you already have read about how we are struggling with technology haven't you? And despite working on a computer for nearly quarter century too! Kudos to your mother for doing her own work and being self sufficient and she has begun so late in comparison!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kunal has put it so nicely Zephyr...
      we should take lessons from the patience which our parents showed when we were learning alphabets. Its the same circle. :)

      Delete
  21. so true...my dad has started reading e-papers and play vdo games :)...quite a lot for someone to whom mobile phone was as enigma :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. With the popularity of IPad...reading has become so much easier..He plays video games too? Thats nice.

      Delete
    2. Except, I am the parent here LOL

      Delete
  22. She had to be smart Alks-she is your mom after all....you so reminded me of the step by step notes that I have made and still refer to while doing some stuff on the laptop or even updating my ipod...

    I wish I was this tech savvy too and hats off to her to be able to maintain the keeness-I give up when things become too technical. I am happy with knowing only how to blog or fb :D

    Now I remember my mom asking me to start the Facebook on her newly bought better phone...phew! This was inspiring :-)

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  23. And it so is a panacea after all!:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am tech challenged too...when bloggers ask me to link, plug or work on my Alexa rank I am hesitant...still learning.Have to keep asking my son.

      Soon Seeya will give you a few tips....

      Delete
  24. Fancy technology makes you slave. I remember I stayed up 2 full nights the day after I got my Mac. A warning from higher command came to drop the circumstantial behavior else say farewell to your lappy.
    It is more that audio/video/surf and chat now. It can never hit boredom. But also steals your life.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Technology is addictive...but it comes easily when you are young.

    How have you been Prateek...Final year this year na?

    ReplyDelete
  26. The kind of a post that warms your heart :) I have had similar experiences teaching stuff to my parents. On being asked for email id, my father gives away both the id as well as password :) Mother, is (...well just like women) the opposite. Rather difficult to trick for password and does not even give people email id :P But they both are willing to learn and maybe I will teach them well someday- when I get to stay with them :)

    In a larger perspective, not-giving-a-chance is never the right decision. Career,relationships everywhere. One never knows how good he/she is until tested well in field situations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww..thats so sweet...my mom too is wary of internet banking.She avoids it. Sri one reader put it so beautifully...

      We should take lessons from the patience which our parents showed when we were learning alphabets. Its the same circle. :)

      Delete
  27. Hey Freebird, Your blogger friends will have to forgive me as this is on a personal note. I don't know if you've heard of the "Leibster Blog Awards" - awarded by fellow bloggers to a blog they think is interesting. After a lot of research, after a lot of careful thought I've decided I'd like to give it to you (and four others as the rules stipulate)
    Please check it out at http://nevermindyaar.blogspot.com/2012/02/leibster-blog-awards.html

    ReplyDelete
  28. Our parents were patient with us when we were children (not that i'm 40, im 23) i guess there's a role reversal when they become older!

    But, funny thing about my mum is that she does not even know how to switch the desktop on! and when i sit on the comp for too long, she threatens to pull the plug. Literally!

    ReplyDelete
  29. KayEm....Thanks indeed. Glad you like my blog.

    @Jayanth...Once she gets hooked to the magic of technology, it will be hard to avoid its charms.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I also want to teach my mother once how to use technology although my father learnt it so well at age of 58 that he could easily put any techie to shame

    ReplyDelete
  31. well, that's such a nice thing that your mom is determined to fight with her boredom, try the new changes of the time, and interact with her grandchildren.
    Me and my sister have exhorted to our mom to use computer and internet, to explore the vast world of social networking, blogging and all, but even though she gets bored without us in the home, she would not rise to the challenge of learning to use the internet :|

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    1. Wow, I can imagine Mausi and Anu Bhaiya right from the beginning of this blog? Many good words have already come in from all your literary friends didi, I cannot add any more...but I am proud of you!

      Delete
    2. Thank you for reading Ritu.Means a lot.

      Delete
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