Opinion | Off the Cuff

Smartphones sound death knell for wall calendars

Paper is no match for technology

  • By Lalit Raizada, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 20:00 February 11, 2013
  • Gulf News

Come December every year, I would invariably set out hunting for three wall calendars for our home. For decades, these have been adorning the walls of our drawing room and two of the bedrooms.

I always liked the one meant for the drawing room to have nature as the theme. It could be showing an ancient boat with sails, getting tossed by a turbulent blue sea. Or dazzling snow-capped mountain ranges. It could also be dense rain forests or simply a sunrise or sunset below formations of floating clouds.

Over the years, I have been getting all kinds of wall calendars. Availability was aplenty so I had a choice. I selected those with beautiful pictures of wildlife, say, for example, a lion or a tigress sitting majestically on a big rock guarding playful cubs.

Or it could be herds of apprehensive antelope or blackbuck moving cautiously in the woods. I would also fall for hundreds of flamingoes appearing like a standing crop of dollar signs ($) in a marshy field.

My wife’s preference was always for calendars with dates printed in big fonts; the squares had space for her to occasionally note down the advance given to the maid or the cook.

My mother went for pictorial calendars, preferably with a religious theme. On waking up in the morning, she would quietly pay obeisance to the deity on the calendar before starting her day. But my experience of the last two-three years shows that these traditional wall calendars are fast becoming history, thanks to the advent of the ubiquitous smartphone.

These phones are carried by every second person and have almost become part of the human anatomy.

Save trees

Another factor — a valid one — is environmental concern and growing awareness to save trees and minimise the use of paper. Yes, happily, the internet has made this possible in a big way. Now, instead of printing texts on reams of paper, the written material is saved in the unfathomable infinite world of the internet.

Nonetheless, some businessmen still get wall calendars printed, including the table versions and diaries to propagate their products and services. But the quantum has been slashed heavily and so have the sizes.

What used to be 12-page calendars, one for each month, have now been reduced to cost-effective six or three sheets and even single-sheet hangings. However, diaries and planners seem to be on the verge of disappearing.

Coming back to my family, owing to years of our ‘addiction’ to wall calendars, we cannot imagine the walls of our home devoid of them. But the fact remains that the changing times are making things difficult.

I intensified my hunt and succeeded in finding a couple of calendars even though they were uninspiring and listless. But there was no option. Something was better than nothing.

Somebody who noticed my unhappiness gave unsolicited free advice that henceforth I should invest in a digital wall clock which would show the time and date even in darkness.

The fellow, a young man, would not appreciate that viewing a pictorial calendar page has its own charm. It imparts life to dull surroundings.

Well, that is my view.

I know that people like me will shortly become an endangered species — threatened by smartphones, tablets and other gadgets. In a way, smartphones are increasingly doing most of the secretarial tasks for professionals. A beep reminds you of your appointments for the day. It also tells you that you have to congratulate somebody on his or her birthday or wedding anniversary.

So much so, smartphones are elbowing out wrist watches. Why should anybody wear a watch when your phone displays the time even when it is switched off? Yes, I admit the wall calendar is no match for all this.

Lalit Raizada is a journalist based 
in India.

Gulf News
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