Sunday, 20 November 2016

Mai Ge Dhobitalao

-Brian Mendonça

It’s been less than a month since I bought my smart phone and I am wondering what took me so long to upgrade.

I was diffident of the new technology and firmly believed that a handset had no business to define the status of my intelligence. Still, it seemed time was passing us by. We were left out of the loop when things were happening – not being on WhatsApp. We somewhat admired the infinite ease with which people massaged their phones and worked wonders. Finally there were no games like Talking Tom, our kid could play with (and give us some space!).

The first barrier was the price differential. We were used to shelling out 2k for a phone. 5 was way too pricey. Now the asking rate for a decent phone was 9.5 upwards. This was a dilemma. Was it worth it? The harsh light in the mobile store turned me off – they don’t even show you java phones anymore. In a separate display are phones costing upwards of 1 lac.

What pushed me was that my modest digital camera had failed me miserably. Several instances of the battery swelling up and rendering it unusable, left me crippled with no record of the swirl of events. I needed a camera on the go – especially to support my posts on my blog. A family phone seemed like a good idea.

Now Queenie looks through my phone when I get back from work and checks out the offers and sales. We also share the jokes being passed on by way of WhatsApp at the table when we eat; Dwayne plays his games for a fixed time; and I stay connected for the occasional call. I use the word ‘occasional’ advisedly because the current features of a smart phone far exceed a phone’s original function, viz. to speak to someone.

I even found myself at the DevFest2106 of the Goa Android User Group (GAUG) hosted by Google, at ICG recently. Sessions on ‘Android App Monetization’ and ‘Ingredients for a Tasty Social Media Gravy’ showed how far one could push the English language. To a decidedly teenagy crowd, words like Freemium, soak test, shit rich, and WTM (Women Tech Makers) were lapped up like the holy grail. And yes there were free pizzas for lunch.

When dad was in hospital, those who wanted to reach out to his bedside did so by sending music videos of songs like ‘This is my Prayer’ by Charlie Dicks, and ‘How Great Thou Art’ on whatsapp with little notes like, ‘This one is for dad.’  When I attended the funeral of our school friend, I sent photos and video recordings to our school group across the world on WhatsApp and even to the family. The music video of the Konkani song ‘Mai Ge Dhobitalao’ sung by Andrew Ferrao (Lyrics: Roque Lazarus) was sent to me on WhatsApp this morning. This is alternate media at its best – and the technology to support it to boot.
Published in Gomantak TimesWeekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 20 November 2016. Pix courtesy

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