Shubham, a 32-year-old IT professional, is my neighbour’s son. He is employed by a firm in the United States. Like most of his fellow geeks living overseas, he also visits India to stay with his senior citizen parents as and when possible. It could be during holidays and festivals, but it’s not an annual affair. He is able to make these trips, maybe once every two years. However, the young man makes video calls back home every day. Thanks to the advent/evolution of the internet, innovation brings the two sides literally face-to-face. That also fills the vacuum to a great extent.
The arrangement has been going on to the satisfaction of both sides. Yet, it must be admitted that technology cannot substitute for the physical presence of an individual. A mother cannot reach out to her son with some delicacy of his choice through the laptop’s screen. Digital cannot replace the intimacy.
At the same time, the pleasure the parents get on being given some items exclusively (especially if it is American) is immeasurable. The feelings are the same when a mum gives to her son some home-made or hand-knitted pullover or some such thing that she has prepared zestfully.
To make this possible, Shubham and his parents keep exchanging visits as frequently as is feasible. But the snag is the limitations posed by the job that requires his physical presence in his office.
Thanks to the prohibitive rents of accommodation and high cost of running and maintaining an office, hiring firms evolved the concept of ‘work from home’. The idea clicked and is now in vogue in most of the places the world over. The facility has saved many employees precious time and the bother of getting dressed up, gulping down breakfast and driving to their workplace under stress.
Now he works on his laptop wearing a scanty innerwear and a sleeveless vest sitting in his bed. His spouse, unless working, makes sure that he gets his snacks and meals on time.
Shubham is no exception. During his visits to his home in Lucknow, India, he also works from home for his office in the US, the difference being that he has to stay awake at night because of the time difference between India and America. But there is little one can do about it.
An amusing situation cropped up during one such visit to his parents. Like any other day [our night] around 1.30am, Shubham was in the midst of a telephone conversation with his boss in the US when some street dog started howling and barking near his house.
As it happens, at that wee hour, the bark sounded louder than usual and it annoyed the boss sitting at the other side of the planet. He chastised Shubham asking him, “Why don’t you silence your pet?”
The poor fellow scratched his head and wondered how to tell him that it was not a domesticated mongrel but one of the innumerable homeless dogs that rule the streets 24/7 in many parts of our country. Interestingly, the hard fact remains that notwithstanding the social apathy towards them, they also help keep the antisocial elements at bay due to their extraordinary quality of sniffing danger.
Moments later, the single mongrel’s barking seemingly alerted other packs/groups and suddenly, there was mass hysterical howling and barking in the locality. That was too much to bear for the boss. Annoyed, he hung up the phone. Poor Shubham was left scratching his head. Any suggestions on how to tame the much-maligned man’s best friend?
— Lalit Raizada is a journalist based in India.