Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak

Life... - December 4 2007

If mobile phones were invented when I was a teenager, life for me and a zillion other teenagers would have been dramatically different.
Would it have been more fun or less? More pain? Fewer problems?
Whatever. But would I have wanted it any other way? I doubt it. I think it was best that life was the way it was -- sans mobile phones et computers...

When Bapak re-entered journalism after more than 5 years "away", newspapers had moved on and newsrooms were no longer the way they were.
Newspaper technology had pretty much advanced. Computers were already being used in a big way.

I suppose, Bapak must have been overwhelmed by this progress in the newsroom. It was all so new to him.
And that is really an understatement.

Still, he was keen to go with the flow.
But, you know....sometimes the heart so desires but the mind.....

I think this is so true of (some) old people. Their mind stops at the thought of having to remember all the keypads, all the commands.

Bapak never told us about his little problem with computers.
I think as far as he was concerned, the computer was just too much to handle.
Not that he never owned one.
When he rejoined the NST as editorial advisor, he got a personal computer which he had installed in his library/study.
We thought that he had been using it. That the computer had served him well.

We, however, never realised that he had never touched it.

Everytime we were at Bapak's place, he would be fiercely tapping the keys of his faithful typewriter.

"Bapak tak pakai computer?", we had asked.

"Aah..mmm......," he mumbled, eyebrows raised as he momentarily looked up and then, just as quickly, looked back at the page he was typing on.
That meant, "I'm busy".
That meant, "don't ask".
That could also mean that "no, I have not used the **#@ computer".

Truth be told, Bapak has never used a computer in his life. Neither has he ever called anyone on a mobile phone. He does not care to know how to use one.
And I believe he is not the only senior citizen in this whole wide world to have a poor relationship with computers.
(Although I marvel at one 90 year-old Latin lady who blogs.)

If mobile phones were around back in the 70s, I think I would not have had a social life. Not that mine was fantastically exciting. But, what little fun that we had as a teenager would have been severely eroded by the very existence of mobile phones, I am sure.

I can imagine Bapak making sure we were where we told him we would be.

"Kat mana ni? Library? ....", Bapak would probably have asked us over the "mobile phone".
Oh...dread. Shudders.

Now isn't that a strange thought when right now, I laud the invention of cell/mobile phones.

"This phone has saved lives," I remember telling that to someone one day. People stranded in God forsaken places have been known to have been rescued because they had mobile phones with them. Accident victims have been saved by prompt action with the hekp of mobile phones. A child who was hiding from burglars/robber in her home got help because she had her mobile phone. And, oh...countless other life-saving cases.

Someone (a very married man) once told me that the mobile phone had also been the cause of divorces/break-ups among married couples.
Actually, what he meant was that wives often got to know of their husbands' extra-marital exploits through the mobile phone due to their husbands' inept or overzealous use of the gadget.
It is usually quite by accident (over the phone) that the wives discover such hanky-panky. Oh you know....

And now, photos in mobile phones to catch erring spouses and their indiscretions...

Just the other evening, as I was sending Shaira and Amalina to the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Club for the "Live Loud" concert, I told them that I would fetch them at the spot where I would be dropping them off.
I told them to just call me on my cell phone when the concert was over. I told them I'd do the same if I didn't get their call after the scheduled time.

"Thank God, ada mobile phone...," I said.

"Ya-lah, Tante...how was it for you when you were young? How was life without mobile phones?" Amalina asked, a little horrified at the thought of "life without mobile phones".

How was life without mobile phones then?

Well, you do not miss things you never had. That's for sure.

But try telling that to the kids.
My children, nephews and nieces cannot imagine life without mobile phones.

I cannot imagine life without the internet.

As for Bapak....

"Blogging? Apa tu blogging?," I remember the first time that word was mentioned in our conversation.

He knows now.


Rockybru said...

wow! can you imagine Pak Samad the blogger? i can. amir hafizi would have a tough time.

.. said...

LIFE WITHOUT HANDPHONE OR INTERNET? sure will be NO LIFE la. Same goes without credit card, sad but true.

Unknown said...

I can't imagine life without handphones too. Glad my parents learned on how to utilize the gadget recently. Now I can SMS them whenever I can(",).

Anonymous said...

I think its also about keeping to one's "comfort zones" - I'd understand Pak Samad's "fear" of the PC. I have that too - when my kids ask me how to change the Internet set-up, or the "Orbit" (equivalent to Astro here) set-up, you bet I would come up with some excuses not to handle it! Nanti jadi tikus baiki labu... it happened a few time! Alas, the generation gap implies technology gap as well, but we all can live with it, I'm sure. Take care & salam.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

as i've written somewhere prior to this, back then whenever you're stuck in a traffic jam, like it or not you get to see people picking their nose to while away the time. nowdays with handphones to toy with, nose-picking in public is a thing of the past. thank God!

Anonymous said...

Another EVIL invention tool with endless diabolical repercussions:

Life was much simpler, when there was no credit card.

Actually, I was in a city in Europe for holidays in 2004 when a dying aunty in Malaysia, specifically requested for her sister, who was on holiday in another European city, to come home immediately!

This entire family opted to use Orange simm cards for each of their phones and ditched all their Maxis, TM's, Digi simm card whilst in London. So no one in Malaysia knew how to contact them. Luckily then, I was using this PDA phone which was able to store countless no. of info. So my cousin's old second phone was still listed. So I called him in London from Paris, to convey the dying aunty's request for his mother to be by her deathbed.

So my aunty, her husband, two sons, daughter in law, daughter and three cucus flew back that evening.

I had to wait for the next day's flight to KUL as MAS don't fly fr Paris to KUL on Thursdays. The moment I arrived at 530am KL time on Saturday, 12 June 2004 and stepped into MTB's Sat C bldg, painfully to find my favourite aunty had just died an hour earlier.

Three months later, whilst in Johor Bahru, a good friend living in Cherbourg but called from Caen, to convey that my best friend (his best buddy too) had just passed away in France, for penicillin complications.

Those are the most memorable momments for me with mobile phones. Of course I was heart broken at both times and still have not able to recover from it, till present.

mutalib saifuddin said...


perhaps he's comfortable with those typewriters. but the keyboard is just the same, right? (QWERTY format) Maybe he's not comfortable with CRT (then or today's LCD) screens and mouse..

lots of people can't imagine how their life could be without handphones. yes. but we can ask them how their life WAS without handphones. of course they can't tell they were given h/ps since birth.

have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Yep, ponder this oxymoron... almost everyone is wired in this wireless time. ;D

Anonymous said...


Would Pak Samad have walked all these walks and marches if he was younger now? Or would he be writing editorials to smash them up into bits and pieces?

I heard your father was quite a rebel but that was then. Are there rebels among editors in the mainstream media now?

Puteri Kembangan.


ahirudin attan (rocky):

i'm trying hard to imagine that!


marykate: actually, i can live without credit card.

there was a time, handphones were non-existent. Life was ...life. in fact, less complicated.
we relied on public phones when we were in public places.

but today....never leave home without it!

akmal: good for your parents!

dhahran: that's for sure....i am not totally IT useless or illiterate. But i can tell you one thing -- my kids are amazing with IT and so are thousands like them.
i guess, as they say, it comes with the territory...thank you for visiting.

kerp: heheheh...ok ok, Kerp, i agree...

BigDog: well, as i have said....thank God for the handphone.

zaitgha said...

when i first moved here, my home phone was giving me problem...call one of the Telekom 3 digits number but they insisted could not help me unless i go to my next door neigbor or public phone to call one specific 3 digits number as that number cannot be called from a hand phone....i gave them a piece of my mind but still gotta do the calling from my office ha ha ha.....irony isnt it?


mutalib: i think the technology is just so overwhelming for him.

mekyam: yep...how true!


puteri kembangan: i think he certainly would join marches/rallies (if he were younger) in the name of human rights and solidarity.

zai: haha...apo nak di kato, zai...

azharif said...

I'm glad your dad blogs. I enjoy his articles.

(Oh, of course I enjoy yours too.. I look forward to your 'Tuesdays with Bapak').

Best regards.