Sunday, February 26, 2017

The world in your palm

                  Recently I saw a short video clip which graphically showed how over the last 30 years, the computer has become a  gadget which enables us to access all types of information under one roof. The video begins with a shot of a table cluttered with scores of items  like a clock, a telephone, calculator, photo frames with pictures, memo pads, scissors, newspapers, magazines, a globe, a fax machine, a camera,  a transistor radio, television, a bunch of letters etc.,  all disappearing one by one and reappearing as icons on the screen of a laptop. The information or whatever you want to see is available to you on clicking  over the appropriate icon. Thanks to the introduction of smart phones ( I call them ‘over’ smart phones)  all this information is now available  in your mobile phone – literally putting the world in your palm.
While the smart phone has certainly helped in  shrinking  the world and has helped in instant communication with your near and dear ones  it is guilty of  almost eliminating - the one- on- one or one- to- group, normal  personal communication and interaction. So much so that the younger generation  and  the not so young  generation,  have started living in a virtual world.

In the eighties and nineties Television was the only distraction available in a home preventing normal conversations. The one  occasion when the family was together was when they were  watching an episode of a mega serial in the only television set available at home. And how the family  used to hate a good friend  dropping in on a social call without prior appointment. Today,  even that opportunity for the family to bond has been snatched away by various  gadgets.

The other day I was visiting a friend, after telling him in advance that I want to meet him  to discuss some problem I was facing.  After receiving me  and making me sit in the drawing room, the friend excused himself to attend to an urgent call . His son was busy texting on his mobile, his daughter was occupied with a laptop, his wife was busy talking on her mobile. Even his old parents were busy watching a serial on the television placed in one corner of the drawing room. Nobody even bothered to recognize my presence in the room. My friend came back after 10  minutes  full of apologies  when his mobile  rang again. . “ Excuse me , this is also an urgent call I have to attend `- so saying he again vanished into his bedroom to attend to the call. I felt miserable sitting there twiddling my thumb hoping to get the attention of someone from  the family. When I realized that nobody was bothered about me  I made a quiet exit without even bidding good bye to my friend.  He is yet to call me to  apologize for the treatment meted out to me by the whole family.
 I realized later that I could have got the attention and views of my friend  easily if I had tried to talk to him over the phone instead of  trying to meet him personally- wasting precious time and money traveling five  kms to & from his house.

No wonder,  `WhatsApp` has become today  an  important means of communicating with your near and dear ones, even when they are sitting right next to you!

(This article appeared in Adyar Times issue dt. 26th Feb-5th march,2017 under my column `Rajan`s Random Reflections`)

Monday, February 20, 2017


  Oxford Dictionary defines a hypochondriac as a person who is always worried about his health and believes that he is ill even when there is nothing wrong. The person is so health obsessed  that  he  is almost neurotic.
I know of a few people who can be classified under this category. A close relative would start complaining about his health the moment he meets someone. It is impossible to have a normal conversation with him because any talk invariably would lead to his health problems.
`This back  pain is killing me yar`; ` yesterday I ate something and today I have not stopped purging`; `I am just unable to do any work because of the nagging headache I have for so many days.`; ` I think my eyes are failing me` ; The list is endless. 

Many of them naturally are regular visitors at the neighbourhood clinics or hospitals. Even if the doctor tells them that there is nothing wrong with them, they would not be convinced. Their response; `What does the doctor know... I am the person undergoing the pain.`  It is not unusual for such people  to display signs  of depression. Even if they genuinely are suffering from a problem, they exaggerate the symptoms so much that people stop believing them. That makes them even more miserable and they complain even more. They are forever trying to win the sympathy of the listeners.

 I almost became a hypochondriac in my teens!   I was only thirteen when I accompanied  my family,( we were living in Bombay at that time),  on a visit to Pudukottai in TN.  We had gone to see my aunt who was suffering from T.B., which  was a sure killer those days. Not only did she pass away because of the disease but her younger brother ( my uncle) also died of the same disease within a couple of months. This had a very negative impact on me , making me fear that I may have also contracted the disease, during my visit to see them. Even if I had simple cold, cough or fever  I would imagine that it was TB. I had become so neurotic that I made my parents` life  miserable . My father  had to regularly take me to a public hospital nearby as we could not afford the fees of private practitioners. I would not believe the doctors in the hospital even when they told me that there is nothing seriously wrong with me. The problem got sorted out only after my father took me to a well known doctor in the neighbourhood, who was also good at understanding the psychology of his patients. After going through my laundry list of complaints and after physically checking me, he opined that I only had a mild attack of `Bronchitis`  which could  be easily treated with medicines. I felt much better when the doctor clearly indicated that I was not suffering from TB but had a condition which could be cured.  Within a couple of weeks I became absolutely normal.  I was saved from becoming a potential hypochondriac for the rest of my life! 

While I escaped, most hypochondriacs end up suffering the problem throughout their life making the life of their near and dear ones miserable. 

No wonder the tombstone of a die -hard hypochondriac had these words engraved: `I told you I was sick`

This article appeared in the Adyar Times issue dt.5-11th Feb.,17 under my column `Rajan`s random Reflections`