21 September 2014

This is why I respect teachers that teach 101 courses

Couple of weeks back, when I was at my dad’s home, I went thru one of those nerve wracking, yet, veritably hilarious exchanges with my parents. As I recollect, after lunch, I had quietly put the ceiling fan on and plonked myself in the sofa armed with my iPad hoping to pen some thoughts of the day and expecting my dad to fall off asleep in the bed close by as mom cleared up the lunch table and settled down.

That indeed was exactly how things proceeded with the exception that my dad never went to sleep. He kept on watching me working on my iPad. Finally, he broke the silence – “iPad boley keno? “i” maaney ki Information?” [[“Why is it called iPad? Does the “i” stand for Information?”]]. Honestly, I have no idea why the “i” is there. And the guy who could have helped me died a few years back. Hoping to get dad back to his required sleep, I brushed him off saying “Exactly”.

That is when things went off the script. His next question was “Ei Facebook bolchhey – jinis ta ki?”. First off, he thought Facebook is a material object. And he wanted to know what did it look like. I snapped my iPad shut and tried explaining what Facebook is.

Things went rapidly downhill from there. There were no known constructs that he had familiarity with that I could base my answer on. For example, I would try to simplify by saying “Koyekjona miley jemon paarar morey adda maro – temni seta jodi mukhomukhi na korey internet-e koro – setakey Facebook boley”. So, I tried to explain that it is basically a forum to exchange with your friends on the internet. He stopped me midway asking – “Internet-tao sunchhi khub aajkal. Seta ki rokom dekhtey?” [[“That reminds me. I am hearing about this Internet thing too. How does that look?”]]

When I tried to explain internet, he immediately jumped to “Hardware software abaar ki?” [[no English translation required]]. So like that fifth grade problem of the monkey trying to climb up a greased pole, for every step forward, I was taking two steps backwards!!!

Half an hour later, I was playing the Bengali equivalent of the game Taboo and I had to clue Facebook but I could not use any words that had to do with technology πŸ™‚

Suddenly, during all my patient explanations, my mom piped up (and that is when I realized that she had finished her stuff and had joined us) “Amar ek bondhu’r meyer biye dilo recently. Bolchhey chhele-ta naaki internet-e peyechhe. Etar maaney ki? Internet-e ki korey chheley khnuje paabey? Taholey to chhele-takey internet boley jontro-tar saamney saaradin bos thaktey hochhey? Kintu tui bolcchis internet kono sthhabor bostu noy. Eta ki korey hoy?”. The worst part was not trying to explain the answer to her. The worst part was holding my laughter back.

If you are Bengali-ly challenged, my mom is totally confused by the fact that her friend’s daughter met her husband thru the internet. Match.com be damned, she thinks internet is some kind of an object – maybe a peephole across the long fibre optics wires and the guy is sitting on the other end – so that her friend’s daughter can see him!!! And therefore she completely rubbished my explanation that internet is not an object that you can see!!

After a lot of pull and push, I had somehow established that if you want to communicate to only one person, you use email, for your friend group, you use Facebook and for the whole world, you use websites. I mentioned that they might have heard about websites as “.com”. Big mistake!!

Problem was not that dad had not heard about .com. Problem was mom had heard about it. She finally got a chance to boss over my dad. She had no idea about what .com is but that was not going to hold her back. Ignoring me, she started instructing dad “Internet maaney dot com. Abaar tumi ‘full stop’ boltey paarbey na. Tomakey ‘dot’-i boltey hobey”. [[“Internet means dot com. And you have to say “dot”. You cannot say “full stop” com”]]. I was this close to taking a bio break but I was sure they could hear me laughing my head off in the bathroom.

Somehow, this triggered a memory cell in my dad’s head. He countered mom “Aarey, aajkaal sob bodley dichhe. Phone number-e sunchhi zero boltey paarbey na. “O” boltey hobey. Ekdin to zero boley ki beepod”. Evidently, he got into trouble saying “zero” instead of “O” while talking to somebody on the phone. By the way, “zero” in Bengal is pronounced as “jeero”. Adding more to the confusion πŸ™‚

Anyways, an whole hour was spent thusly. I had barely tried to explain that you can share pictures on Facebook – hoping he would make the connection how it could be a powerful tool for his grandkids to share pictures of each other. Instead, he charged “chhobir proyojonita ki? message pathiye diley-i to hoye gelo”. He failed to see the big need to share pictures. He thinks if you simply get the message you wanted to say across to your recipient, that is enough.

My mom, in the meanwhile, demanded to know – how do you write out the message? So, I showed her the keyboard and demonstrated it. She wanted to know if it was just like the typewriter. Since it had the QWERTY keyboard, I lackadaisically said “Yes”. Little was I prepared for her incredulous and incredible question – “Koi line-ta sesh holey, kichhu thhelchhis na to?”. She wanted my keyboard to be equipped with that push cylinder that you pushed on a typewriter after you finished a line!!

My dad was even more inquisitive – “Erase kortey paaris?”. [[“Can you erase?”]] I was totally flummoxed. How do I explain the backspace key as pretty much your nail polish remover?

Eventually, he retired. But not before muttering “Aaro koto ki aasbey. Amra tokhon thakbo na!”. [[“So many more things will come. We won’t be here to see them”]].

And I was like “Awwwww!!! I will make a deal with you big guy. You get back your willingness to live for a few more years. I will come back enough number of times to teach you enough about internet that you can message me all your life’s complaints every day. I will tell you what. You can Whatsapp your worried face to me too”.

Posted September 21, 2014 by Rajib Roy in category "Humor", "Vacations


  1. By Jayaraman Raghuraman on

    Internet is indeed an object. And elders are more inquisitive than we have the ability to imagine. Rajib, we know where your desire to learn new things, places and meet new people has come from.

  2. By Ram Narayanan on

    reminded me of how my dad (and later my mother in law) in the early 2000s learnt to use email ONLY to keep in touch with us (as grad student did not call India frequently). this post made me go back and search for his emails and re-read a few . mostly he was happy with just one liners assuring him we are doing fine. thx.

  3. By Sri Ganesh on

    Proves the point that Engineers cannot teach technology. Ask a good librarian to teach them in simple useful day to day matters and that will sink in well. My wife(librarian) introduced my mom (80 yrs) to the net and my Mom now uses Skype to teach classical music. πŸ™‚

  4. By Swarupananda Karmakar on

    Wow Rajib. Touchy. I recollect those days in early-eighties. My interections with your Mom, Dad, you, Soma, Pinku……I know You will infuse fresh zeal-for-life in your ‘big guy’. Love You……Cheers!

  5. By Sibapriya Dasgupta on

    The last part was really touchy and I do believe that one day in the near future your parents would communicate with you , Sharmila and Niki-Tasha through Skype without anybody’s help!

  6. By Javed Waris on

    Last para summed it all Rajib da . Touched our heart . Hope to see the day when our kids tries hard to teach us a thing or two about ‘their technology’ and laugh at us .

  7. By Santosh Kulkarni on

    That was awesome. I’m not surprised that you write well. Bengali flavor was just right too. I have to send this to my nephews and nieces( since they have the unenviable job of bridging the digital gap with their dada dadi nana nani)


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