Simple Life

A lot of people I know may not agree with me on this one; but in a weird way I guess we’re part of history in the making.
I mean, even though I'm not exactly at that age when most people would write a “back-when-I-was-young” post, when I look back at my days as a kid, I guess life was much less complicated than all the stuff what we have now.

A collection of memories of days gone by that were much, much simpler.

Back home in Jeddah, our TV managed to get two channels – one of them from eight in the morning and the other from four in the afternoon; both of which ended their broadcasts at midnight. And because one channel was in Arabic (which I just pretend to understand!) there was only one channel I really watched. But you always had something good to watch – and didn’t have to channel-surf over a hundred channels before you realize there’s nothing good on.

We had a VCR.
And we rented out video cassettes of good movies. Piracy wasn’t such a big deal because apart from the pros, only people with terribly expensive double cassette VCRs could make a copy for themselves – which wasn’t too many people.
Besides, you never had to worry about compatible disk formats, or downloading different codecs or new versions of your video players.

There was one phone in the house.
It was simply called ‘the telephone’. And there were rules for how long you could speak on it and what were appropriate times for calling other people up.
And I could still reach all my friends when I needed to.

The computer was a huge thing with a tower CPU and a 14” CRT screen that preposterously occupied most of the table real estate while cranking out a miserly 300Mhz of computing. Yet it was fast enough to get all your work done; and even play a few games on it.

1.44 MB was all the storage you ever needed to carry around.
In the rare case that your documents didn’t fit on one disk, you could zip them onto two or three disks; but that was usually not a problem because in any case, you never had more than 5MB of data to be made portable.

Music was an audio cassette you bought from real stores.
Maybe borrowed from a friend. Or in any case, could always listen to it on the radio. And you rarely, if ever, really needed to know the album, composer, genre, year and all other “mandatory” the other things that make up IDE tags.

Cars did not have GPS satellite navigators.
But people actually knew how to get where they wanted to go. And still managed to get there in time inspite of having no ‘real-time’ data on the traffic feed and weather conditions.

Written communication was a letter that you manually wrote out with a pen, on paper.
You then put it in an envelope, stuck a stamp on it, put it in the mailbox and waited for the other guy to receive it, read and then reply.
And it actually worked…I used to collect postage stamps at one time.

When the average guy first got it, all the internet was good for was Email, web-chat and search.
You did NOT have twitter, facebook, myspace and the dozens of other channels that feed you internet chatter day after day – to your mobile, desktop, gaming console and virtually every wired thing you own!
But somehow you still knew what your friends were up to.

And when you sum it up all together, it was kind of nice not knowing who was calling when the phone rang, or opening the mailbox and finding a letter from an old friend. I really wonder how things changed so quickly and made things so different...within maybe 10years.

Ah yes; life really was much simpler, and much, much happier back then!


Mohammed Musthafa said...

excellent post man! i was thinking of writing one abt my current life...hw i'm pretty much happy with it....but now when i think of it,...everything you said makes sense. But yah...i still feel i cud show the current situation is pretty sweet! maybe i the future....

Sheeraz Ahamed Khateeb said...

gud 1 dude... i sometimes think life has changed so much that even u dont need to use ur energy to brush ur teeth [Motor based tooth brush has come...] ...

we sigh when we see manual doors rather than automatic doors in shops..

we got used to these technology, yet we are not happy...
the days shown in Wall-e is not far....

-=A.R.N.=- said...

@Mohammed Musthafa
Thx...and I guess this is always the way it is.
I'm sure years from now; the next generation would write about the time when computers were just a device that you could switch off whenever you wanted to

WALL-E was an excellent movie dude - and with quite a message as well. The only movie to inspire a post for me (if you read the one on Broken Fishtank)

Darshan Chande said...

Wow! Made my day it seems.. I always feel nostalgic... old is always always gold.. we say we advance but the God knows we are making our lives more and more complicated and becoming more prone to misery..

Anonymous said...

You can still get back some of it if you want to.

I never bought a TV. The one I have, I picked up from the baladiyah. I get two channels.

I don't have a DVD player and I can live without Netflixing or Zipping (don't know if you have such a service in Europe)
If I feel like watching a movie, I go to the box-office - Going to the Movies is still a wholesome experience !

In the past few years, I also cut down drastically on downloading listening to music.
Thank goodness we now have something like Last.FM, so if I get all nostalgic, I can tune in to a Jagjit Singh Radio - the others have already done my work.

You are right about the telephone. The most complicated device I have now is my cellphone. Instead of making calls I mostly use it for taking pictures and tuning to the local radio.

My caller ID at home is broken. But now instead I am afraid to pick up the phone, in case it is a telemarketer or someone telling me that I missed a payment.

But I do have a rule that when ever I give out my number, I tell the person not to call after 9:30 PM
It works. Sometimes I take the phone off the hook.

I think writing a letter in ink and then finding an envelope and a stamp is still hard work and still costs a pretty penny. I'd rather stick to e-mail.

Although writing postcards is still not dead. It my be the case with most of my family but I was delighted to have received a ton of postcards/greeting cards last holiday season. It's a great change from finding just bills in the mailbox.

Give me your address, and I'll be sure to send a postcard to you for Ramadan/Eid.

Aersh said...


i luvd it. especially d part abt letters. oh i so much miss writin letters to people. emails can nevr replace letters. seriously it can't.

u forgot abt d ice creams nd d chocolates. v nevr had so mch variety nd evryone was nt lucky enuf to get a baskin robinson. now a days de seem to b a part of our daily diet!!!

Rayees Ahamed said...

blooming memories eh ? (Malarum ninaivugal).

You narrate beautifully like a Love letter dude :D

-=A.R.N.=- said...

Thx dude...
And you'right; we're always busy making the next great thing to save more time...but where is all that time we were supposed to have saved gone?

-=A.R.N.=- said...

@Jaffer gotta loosen the pursestrings a little there - TV from baladiyah?? :D
In any case, that is two channels more than I TV broke last month and we never got around to fixing it.

As for office isn't a very viable option for me coz the nearest one is in Frankfurt - which is like 40min from the village I live in; and we don't have Netflix here; UK has such a service; but not here as far as I know.

I still think the FM rocks; you can have it on the car, on your phone, heck even in the bathroom. I love it.

And believe it or not, I don't use phones all that much either...the only people who call me are FROM work, or REGARDING work.
Yes, I still write on paper sometimes, and mail it - with the stamps and everything. Feels nice once in a while.
I'll be sure to mail you my adress; and I'll be expecting a post card soon

-=A.R.N.=- said...

Yeah..Email gets the job done; but not very pretty is it?

Hmm, ice creams I didn't really think much. Maybe because I never really had a lot when I was a kid; besides, you don't have a baskin robbins everyday do you? I sure don't....otherwise the health-o-meter will go for an overkill

@Rayees the "blooming memories"!!
Some things are better left un-translated.
Hmm, love letter - I really have no experience in that area :D

Anonymous said...

Haha ! It was by chance I found the TV. I don't even need one ! Heck I haven't even turned it on in days !

But now that Canada will be switching to HD in about two years time, it will be useless - unless I get one of those watchamacallits devices.

Shimmer said...

nice post :)

Dhanya said...

Gosh! You made me miss my 'back when I was young' days too. I can totally identify with this.. coz I am a year younger than you and I have been subjected to all of it! Can't believe so much has changed over 10 years. What's in store for us 10 years from now ??

Trust me, those WERE the good days. No complications. Everything was simple and clean.

The more media we get for communication, the less we communicate. Sad, but true. People think its so easy to get in touch with each other that they just take everything for granted!

You made me reminisce about a lot of things. Thanks for that! :)

Abhinav said...

Hi.. first time commenting! }:-)

Rightly said... we blabber about things we don't have all the time.. but what we have.. even if that is not flashy, if we respect that, life will be lot lot more happy!

Rayees Ahamed said...

I remember when I got admission at IIT Madras , the director said in the welcoming speech that, "I Wish you all, beautiful memories for the future".

I think there is more food for thought in those words, we may perhaps not very much happy about the present, but 25 years down the line when the skin is wrinkled, what is bitter today may taste sweet.

Aersh said...

thanks for likin my new template!!!!

-=A.R.N.=- said...

What's a "watchamacallits" thing?


@Dhanya made my day too.
And I guess 10years from now, some guy who's in his mid teens would write a post on his blog on how things were so much better in the 2000s.

-=A.R.N.=- said...

Hey hi, and welcome to The Square Circle!
You're right; Happiness is a state of mind - comfort can't buy happiness.

I think 25yrs down the line is something we can't even begin to imagine right now... ;)


Alok said...

I quite agree with you. History is indeed in the making, and seemingly this seems to be the age of a Renaissance, especially with things like Virtual Reality and Multimedia.

But somehow, there seems to be trouble brewing somewhere...

Jagjit said...

Real nice post ARN. Particularly the 1.44MB made me nostalgic about that poor floppy disk that was rendered unusable in a week if not 'handled properly'. If life 10 years ago much much simpler and easier than today, then that's an indicative of the fact that today is far more simpler than what it will be 10 years from now. It made a very nice read. Cheers.

-=A.R.N.=- said...

Yeah, and its not just 'somewhere'...trouble's brewing all over!

Btw, speaking of virtual reality, you might wanna check out:

Yeah I see what you mean.
My roomie now complains his 500GB external drive is "simply not big enough" for all his stuff

issam said...

Good post bro...
Things definitely are changing fast. I still remember those big walkmans ppl used to carry around. And the dozens of cassettes as well :)

Prasanna said...

Right.... But don't you agree that life has now become sophiscated than before?...

And nothing has changed by itself.. Necessities made them change..

And they led to two golden terms: Inventions and Discoveries! Didn't they?
(not wanted to deliberately deviate from what other readers have said; but I sometime really feel this while i think, say, what happens if i didn't have had this..that)

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-=A.R.N.=- said...

Yeah...when I was in college, I still had a walkman believe it or not!
Amazing how quickly it became obsolete.

-=A.R.N.=- said...

progress yes, but I don't think they're necessarily "Necessary" :)

Like the instant keep-in-touch things we have - twitter, facebook/orkut, IM on phones, Apple's "MobileMe" and all that.

My first award. Thx.