I walked the narrow lanes of Bur Dubai the other night trying to bring back some nostalgia into my life.
A colleague had told me where I could find a shop selling records. I was looking for vinyl records, which were used to play music long, long before Sony invented the Walkman.
My mother-in-law had bought a record player from Tchibo in Ibn Battuta Mall after futile attempts at trying to find one in ‘chor bazaar' (literally crook's market) in Delhi. (Whenever something gets pinched from your home, the first place to look for it and buy it back is the ‘chor bazaar'.) She wanted to play the stacks of records of ‘long hair' music she has back home.
I checked out some places like the Madinat Jumeirah and Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai, but the only players were the fake ones for decoration, with the bullhorn speaker, made famous by the His Master's Voice trademark, depicting a perplexed dog looking into the speaker.
The German player came in two speeds, 33 rpm (revolutions per minute) and 45 rpm and even had a USB connection.
But to test it out I needed a record. After asking a Filipina, I finally found Intesar Salim's shop. From a distance I could hear the voice of Jim Reeves. I bought a 45 RCA Victor record of the song You kept me awake all night. "This is it," Salim told me. "After this you will never find another record. Nobody makes them any more."
So many things are going extinct in my lifetime, one after another, in rapid fashion, that I have no time to feel nostalgic.
When Sony announced it will not produce the Walkman any more, it seemed like it was just yesterday I had melted a music tape in my portable player.
The day-time dry heat in Riyadh is merciless (unlike here in Dubai where it is hot, wet and humid) and foolishly I had left my Walkman on the front seat. A few hours later I came back, put on my earphones, punched in the play button and it snapped back angrily. The heat had fused the tape to the player.
The desert heat also made the player go all wonky and it started eating up some of my favourite tapes. Maybe it could have also been that I was playing fake tapes. Saudi Arabia, at that time, was a haven for counterfeit products and music tapes costing just Dh5 were freely available in shops.
So many tapes were being eaten by their Walkmans that it was not unusual to find bunches of tangled magnetic tape on the streets. Sometimes these tangled tapes would trail from behind a car, stuck on its exhaust, as if the motorist ahead was getting married or was celebrating an event.
Maybe I am living in a time-warp or something where everything is going fast-forward, but my expensive film camera is also worth peanuts now. It also seems like it was just yesterday that I was watching movies on Betamax videotapes and the other day I had to box a number of Disney cartoon videotapes which my sons loved when they were tiny.
In the US, Blockbuster is going to close shop because movie lovers find it cheaper to get their fix online or pay the cable TV provider. Meanwhile, my video library in Discovery Gardens is still charging me Dh10 for a DVD movie.
But thankfully some things never change. Etisalat, for some reason, still wants you to send a fax if you require a service change. "Oh, come on, who faxes any more?" said my wife to the call centre guy. But he was insistent that we have to do it the ancient way.