Monday, December 12, 2011

How Technology-dependent are You?

We have all become dependent on technology. And that is not news anymore. Google has gone from becoming a noun to a verb. For example, how many of you say this every week - "I Googled about X event and came to know about it" or "Why don't you Google the nutritional value of avocado? You'll see how good they are for you."
This past weekend was my last time in Columbus. It was A's and my wish to do a Pooja (a religious ceremony) before he moved to Washington, DC and we bid our farewell to Columbus. I had to make prasad (food offered to God) for the pooja. I was going to make sheera, kheer and have fruits and dry fruits. I have the most wonderful recipe of sheera (sweet dish made of semolina, sugar, milk and clarified butter) that has been given by A's mother. I have not made kheer (Indian rice pudding - made of milk, rice and I added condensed milk also) that often. So my default go-to was Google. I Googled and after looking at a few different recipes, I found the one that I was confident would be good enough to feed 30-40 people. That was the first time I used Google for the pooja.
Next, was getting ready for the pooja. Three days before the pooja, I was once again on Google, looking for videos to help me drape a saree. Now if my mother were to read that I needed the help of Google and YouTube to wear a saree, I will get the longest sermon ever! "You have been married for all these years. You should know how to wear one and on and on." Yes, google once again was my answer to getting one step closer to the pooja, the way I wanted. I could have very well gone with salwar-kameez (an Indian attire, with drawstring pants and a long tunic), but I wanted to wear a saree, as A and I were going to perform the pooja. I was able to check two things off the list, thanks to technology/ Internet/ Google.

Next was reaching the mandir (temple). We didn't resort to Google maps, but did rely on technology once again. The trusty GPS was out. We made sure to use the GPS this time. The first time we went to this temple, A and I were lost. So we followed the directions of the GPS to the T this time. And we were at the temple on time, without getting lost and ready for the pooja.
Next was the pooja. We just had to perform the pooja, the way the priest directed us to. Turned out, the head priest was in India. The other priest was a very dedicated man and he explained wonderfully to us, why we performed certain steps, why the lady always sits on the right side of the husband and much more. But before the pooja commenced, out came his iPhone. And he verified a few things and read them before we started. There - it was the fourth thing that got us through smoothly.

This is an example of how for one single event, we were so reliant on technology. We all have our examples. My four-year old niece is adept at going on YouTube from her dad's iPhone and iPad. We met A's four and a half year old nephew two days back. He was teaching A and his grand mother how to operate the iPad and how his grand mother could pause a video he was watching. Yes, there are pros and cons to kids learning technology at such a young age. But that is not the discussion for this blog post. How many times have you gone to the Internet to look for the perfect recipe for chilli paneer or sweet corn soup or the apt appetizer to vow your party crowd? Or you were lost on the highway and none else, but the GPS helped you. The flip side also being that your GPS was just not able to get any signal and you were not able to find your way smoothly, unless you stopped at a gas station and asked for it.

The other major change - dictionaries and thesaurus. I am as guilty as anyone else on this one. I admit not looking at a dictionary in years, yes years. If I don't know a meaning or need grammar help, all I do is go to the Merriam-Webster website ( I have that as a bookmark on my work and home computer. But I don't have the Webster dictionary at work. One of the microwaves at work is in the room that has two printers and has stationery and office supplies. The room also has those gigantic dictionaries that we grew up seeing. (You know how old you are if you too saw those dictionaries!) During the two or three minutes that I am waiting for my food to heat up, I invariably end up thinking that, "When my children are born, and are growing up, will they use a physical dictionary? Will they peruse the encyclopedias that we did?" Or would something more advanced than Google come up by that time?

While we are at books, I see more people on the Metro who are reading e-books on the not-so-new anymore Kindle or iPad or something similar, rather than the good ol' book. I had never seen someone so engrossed in a book that they would keep reading it while walking. How is it then that they keep reading on the Kindle while walking? And then they would either slow down or bump in to someone as they are not looking ahead, but on the screen?

A and I did a fun thing a few weeks back. We had a situation in front of us, and the easy thing was to look up online for a solution. But we decided not to resort to that for once, and challenge ourselves. It was a lot of fun, and also an exercise that made us realize how dependent we have become on technology. Next time, when you too are going to click on your favorite website to help you, do pause. And see if you can work on your situation without that. I think you will enjoy it!


  1. Interesting observations. I like the descriptive language and subtle attempts to ensure that the post makes sense to a global audience. Would be fun to try to work my way through a situation without the crutch of technology. I've had those moments, though not intentionally, when I travel to remote parts of India. Let me try doing it intentionally now.

  2. Good read, can relate to it quite well.

  3. Hi Amar,
    Thanks for visiting the blog and sharing your thoughts. Yes - we all are pretty tech-dependent. I think we got a very good example this week when Wiki did a black-out

  4. Hi Ashish,
    I have not been to India in a long time. So I don't know how dependent people are. And I guess for a lot of things - people won't think before they ask someone. Over here, I don't see a lot of that.