I always read at least 5 books at a time. So, while I packing my bags for my vacation, I was undecided as to which of the 5 to carry. Actually, this packing bit is really stressful. I don’t know who in the world has come out with this “travel light” mantra; you are always under tremendous pressure to conform to the light standards. Actually, after a while I got so stressed, I decided to now even pack in things I definitely knew I wouldn’t use at all. With hubby staring at me in total disbelief, I decided to put in a couple of hangers, a photo album, 2 handbags, 3 pairs of shoes…errr…each, lots of biscuits (with “Surely you can buy Marie in Kerala” as background score) and even toyed briefly with a wall hanging just to challenge hubby to keep his temper. Heehee. And then went to fetch my books. All 5. But even I had to admit it, we were now travelling heavy. Real heavy. Just then, the phone.
One of my friends (he belongs to the category of friends I call my “book adda”) had called to say hi. On hearing about my which-book-to-carry issues, he said “Ok, I am coming right over with my Kindle and you are taking it with you.” Now he actually knows how I react to technology but he wouldn’t hear of any excuse. “I have loaded 152 books onto this, ok? So please carry this with you.” Now, that was really very sweet of him, but you see, my tech fear kept cropping up while holding the damn thing. Lil one however learnt all the features in no time at all and then spent the rest of the evening teaching me to…read. Grrrr! I was, quite literally, feeling quite illiterate.
There actually were 152 books in that tiny, slim machine. When Lil one patiently took me through the list and showed me all the titles and asked me to select any one, I went in for the Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie, highly recommended in my book adda. When the book opened, I instinctively sniffed at the Kindle, causing the lil one to retort “What are you doing mom?” Well, now, come on. New book, right? I can’t do without sniffing at it. Oh, I so love the smell of the unopened pages…remember Hermione detecting the smell of new parchment when confronted when Amortentia? I like smelling the book for a while before reading it; however, no such luck with the Kindle! Lil one was staring at me incredulously and hissing, “If you are done? And you can’t smell the Kindle, mom! Noone does this kind of stuff, mom. And you want to know how to go to the next page.” There’s no turning the page here, you kind of click your way into the new one. But it’s simple enough, and it grew on me in those 2 days before the travel. However, I surreptitiously did put in a hard copy (What if the battery fails) of a Terry Pratchett, just in case…
Just then, the phone rang, yet again. Supergeek on line. Now most people call us to say hi or to just catch up or to share some news. But Supergeek is different. This guy mostly calls to just laugh at my tech trauma. Grrrr! He started by telling me nonchalantly that he has newly acquired an activity tracker for just Re.1. I was snorting rudely at the mere idea. I mean, for the thing to work, you need to have…activity, right? I then informed him loftily that I too have a new acquisition and that I have switched to the Kindle, for the supergeeky reader experience. “Oh, but Kindle is so… unromantic. The idea of using technology in a thing as close to the human mind as reading is itself flawed.” Really! Apparently, technology is only applicable to tracking the mundane movements of the human body (even when there are none), not of the human mind. After generally ticking off his ideas with some well-chosen, rude words, I was now hell bent on using the Kindle all over Kerala.
Cut to the flight. We all were seated separately and after take-off, I started on my Kindle read. Next to me were these two women, gossiping like crazy about some third woman called Rita, about whom they apparently knew everything by the devious yet simple means of sharing the same maid. Not that I mind them knowing all about Rita, but people, there is a certain volume etiquette in travelling, isn’t there. By the end of the flight, everyone on board was thoroughly and totally educated about the wild habits of Rita, who apart from being very “fashionable” didn’t want to marry. My problem was something else. This entire Rita talk was biting into my Hugh Laurie experience so madly that I was really on the verge of asking that youngish looking chap across the aisle if he could marry Rita, just to shut these crazy women up. So this is how my reading went…
Laurie: It is the middle of December now, and we are about to travel to Switzerland – where we plan to ski a little, relax a little, and shoot a Dutch politician a little.
Woman 1: What these new girls are thinking!
Woman 2: Arre, they are not thinking. That is their problem.
Laurie: I think you’re a dangerous, corrupt, lying piece of nine-day-old mosquito shit
Woman 1: And now yesterday she went and bought herself a new car! Just like that! No discipline, I tell you. What these new girls are thinking..
Laurie: There’s an undeniable pleasure in stepping into an open-top sports car driven by a beautiful woman. It feels like you’re climbing into a metaphor
Woman 2: So she is now taking loans also without asking her parents!
Laurie: This was the tricky bit. The really tricky bit, trickiness cubed.
Woman 1 (predictably): What these new girls are thinking!
Arrrrgh! Arrrrgh! And more Arrrrgh! Just then, the stewardess bent over to offer me a juice and to my great discomfort, my neighbour (Woman 1) realized that there is this specimen sitting by the window with a something in hand. I could almost imagine her telling her adda later “And huband sitting separately and kids sitting somewhere else! What these new girls are thinking…”
Sigh. To my greater discomfort, she now turned in her seat to offer me her most winning smile. I was now terrorized since I was truly between the devil and the deep sea that I could spot from my window. “I also like to read. What are you reading? And what is that? Is it a tab?” she boomed loudly, looking at the poor Kindle, which I thought quivered quite nervously in my hand. I gave it a reassuring squeeze and already bugged with the two of them, decided to belt it back. Heehee. “Oh, don’t you know this? This is a Kindle. Surely, you don’t read actual paperback…books!” I said, with that pitying look in my widened-for-greater-impact eyes and that tone of gentle disdain. It was tough, balancing the soft look with the hard elbow I was giving the Terry Pratchett hardcopy present in my bag. Forgive me, oh God, for I know exactly what I do.
“My son gave me a tab. He is in IT na..” The defence.
“Oh, a tab” Again, gentle, gentle pity in the tone. “But tabs are not meant for reading. Firstly, they have backscreen lights that hurt your eyes (In my mind, I could almost see Lil One lighting up with pride at my argument and Supergeek rolling his eyes till they hurt at this new tech-avataar of mine). So if you are planning to read long hours, its really not a great idea. A Kindle on the other hand, is like reading a book. See?” I said, tilting the Kindle screen towards my loud neighbours. “And its battery lasts for weeks together and hardly any weight. And this one has 152 books loaded on it. Technology has great advantages, you know..”
Heehee. This was great fun. Even as I write this blog, I am sure Woman 1 has ticked off the IT son for the 15th time this summer for having bought her a tab. And has ordered a Kindle for herself immediately. Amazon may not know it, but it’s good old econ mom who is the driving force behind “May 2015 sales of Kindle accelerate after a two month dip”. Kindle is kinda fun!