Another year draws its curtains tonight. Standing on the threshold of this new year, I steal a look at the years gone by and suddenly, a treasure chest spills out its secrets from yesteryears.
While weeding out junk from home, I had the opportunity to reel back at least 14 years, just about the time when our family bought our first computer. In the material marked for shredding or disposal were cassettes, floppy disks, CDs, a tape recorder, many books, PS2 mice and keyboards, Video Game console and joysticks and many, empty notepads. Ah! They must have cost a lot if I were to sum them all up. Looking at all this outdated stuff makes me wonder - were they mistakes? Were we mistaken in investing heavily on them? I remember a cheap floppy from Amkette to cost around 15-20 bucks while the ones from Imation were bought for 40 bucks a piece. Imagine, 40 bucks per 1.44MB! Then came the CDs, then DVDs, Dual Layer DVDs, External Hard Disks and what not! Pocket money was spent on buying empty CDs, and later, DVDs to store songs and games that couldn't fit into our meager 40GB hard disk while Ma and Papa would chide us for being unwise in our choices. Playstation Console games like Tekken 3, Soul Blade, Dino Crisis, Nuclear Strike and a whole bunch of others bought to be played over a CVGS emulator on the computer. The movies collected, the CD towers, the jewel cases bought to save the CDs from scratches, and all the time, we thought we could make it last?
Guess what? We did! They lasted till today. We proved many people wrong! But in hindsight, they were right. Somewhere in these 14 years, I moved from floppy disks to CDs to DVDs to Hard Disks to becoming almost 'nirmohi' (detached) about them. The march of time, civilization and technology has been unrestrained, while these old artifacts have stashed up closets and often occupied neglected spaces. While I was passing on the legacy of my games collection to a younger cousin, he worded the question I had been thinking the whole time, do I regret having spent so much time and resource on games that I will never play, or books that I will never read again? The simplest answer is, I own my regrets. But there could be a more subtle, but verbose answer too.
So, was it a mistake? Even though I won't play those games again, and that they might not even run on my computer now, because they are a bit too simple for modern computers, even though I can listen to all the music from hard disks of Terabyte capacities and YouTube now, was it a mistake to spend thousands on CDs and DVDs, that too when the money was limited? I think about the time spent in just curating the playlists, knowing that only 140 tracks may fit in a CD. Did they not help me decide well which songs I absolutely wanted to hear for a long time? These days, I don't even remember the lyrics of complete songs. I can always Google up the lyrics if I don't get the lyrics and if they aren't already captioned on YouTube. Perhaps, due to this ease of access to such information, my listening skill has deteriorated. Now, I find myself more dependent on Google than my good ears. Most of the time, I'm short of patience to go through the song once on my own and feel it. Not just the listening, it is the recall too which has taken a beating. It doesn't feel like having grown more. The vital exercise that playful games and leisure recall offered has become almost non-existent and the progress has certainly impeded, if not halted or atrophied.
College, an entry level graphics card and a new computer after the first year was over, and Counter Strike reigned supreme in the hostel rooms, with Mavericks and AK47s roaring across the alleys and boys shouting out to their team mates in the other block, despite knowing they couldn't hear anything. Along with it, the desire to push the limits of college internet, to try and gain access during non-access hours too and to collect the best version of Windows XP, then Windows Vista, and finally Windows 7. And books, oh, a lot of online books! It was more exploratory and the desire to collect than the need to study them. Wallpapers! And songs, having complete discographies on liking just a few tracks. Dumped everything on to DVDs for safe keeping. 4.7 gigs per disk, who would ever need more space? If one fell short, use two. A very easy transformation from an ambitious curator into an impulsive hoarder!
My music collection on the computer hasn't grown much since the college days, but that isn't because I haven't found new music. True, the pace has slowed as I explore less and have become more choosy about it (makig my way back into being a curator of sorts), but now with everything online, YouTube serves me well (even when it is not a good substitute for my memory). Even that is getting irksome now, with the advertisements that need to be skipped and even with a modest salary, I contemplate getting a premium YouTube service (YouTube Red, as and when it becomes available) than watching those advertisements. It seems that advertisers will spend a lot in getting their product advertised to us, and people like me will spend a lot to run away from such advertisements. In any case, it is the platform winning. Radio stations are beset with advertisements that run longer than the shows, and ironically, advertisements of the show being free of any advertisements which are literally flashed after every song only adds more water to the rivers already running above danger levels. Akashvani is sorely missed!
And technology, now that I become more of a person that deals with technology, who creates a small fragment of technology, I find myself less aware of the massive whole than I used to when I was just looking at it from the outside from technology magazines.
Things, I believe, are meant to serve a purpose. They have finite utility, and post that, they must be discarded. They will give way to something better, they will obsolete themselves if nothing else obsoletes them before they do it to themselves. These things, that I invested in, and preserved, were no mistakes, even though they might seem so in the rear mirror. They served their purpose to the fullest, and now it is the time for their curtains to fall. That treasure chest must be emptied once, for new treasures to fill in, and the one in my head freshened up for more acuity!
So, what am I going to do is to rewind a little on my habits in the coming year, and try to explore more music without the crutches of internet. I will try to remember more lyrics (despite the side effect that they play in my head in examination rooms), read more impulsively (from paper) and return to a state of burning a little ball of chaos in my head. I think I'll just hesher it up!