All the world’s a village

We keep hearing the term global village and how the world has shrunk into one with the advent of technological marvels. What I am saying is that the term has stopped being figurative and become literal. And I don’t mean the fact that we can reach from one corner of the globe to another in a matter of hours or that we can keep in touch even with those in space. No. What I mean is that we are really living in a village, albeit a global one.

Want to know how?

Let me tell you about our village.

My parents lived in one when villages were still villages. I mean, the trappings of a town like telephones, means of transport like autoriskshaws and buses had still not touched them. Only the post office had a telephone which did not work most of the time and the only means of transport to the outside world were the two passenger trains that stopped at that station. It was a small village with just three or four streets, with probably a population of 2000-3000.

Everyone knew everyone else, well almost; if not directly, then through someone they knew. That meant they not only knew each other by name and sight, but also knew about the whereabouts and activities of each. There was a sort of ‘village telegraph.’

There were only two passenger trains stopping at the village from either side, which meant that some one would be out in the veranda of almost every house before and after the said train passed. One could step outside to accost anyone taking the said train to the town and ask them to run some errand for one!

When I went visiting my parents with my first son (my parents left the village before the second one was born), the entire street knew about it and two dozen heads popped out and stayed there till I waved a general hello to everyone! I could almost hear the wireless message that got transmitted: “Youngest daughter of the second house has come with her son by morning train!”

The motive was not gossip, but curiosity and often concern. When the old lady who lived alone in the street sprained her ankle, the entire street rose to the occasion to help her out. Someone cooked her meals, someone else washed her clothes, and another one got her medicines and applied ointment on the ankle. It was like the members of a big family looking out for each other. Marriages and death likewise were a village affair instead of just a family one.

My husband once came on an unscheduled visit when I was there with my son. It was past dinner time when he came. I started making preparations to cook something, when my mother held up her hand.

“Don’t worry. Give him some tea and make some rice, and I will organize the rest.” I noticed she said ‘organised’ and not ‘cook’. Curious to know how she did it, I quickly prepared the tea and put the rice to boil. She had vanished.

“When can I eat?” asked my husband sotto voce. “Uh uh, soon. I have set the cooker…” I said lamely, trying to see where my mother was.

I went into the kitchen when the cooker whistled and saw her there. She had a veritable feast: sambar, rasam,  bhindi subzi, palak kootu….Mouth hanging open I stared. Was there a genie in one of her bottles? She laughed. “That’s the advantage of a village!” she said proudly. The said wireless had doubtless sent out the word, “So-and-so has a late night visitor; do you have any food to spare?”

Since many households had late dinners, a complete meal could be organized in no time, especially since the houses all had a back door on the lane behind the houses — subzi from one house, rasam from another…and the visitor none the wiser! No wonder my mother said she would organize the food! Needless to say, it was hugely enjoyed by my husband who thought that we too had had the spread earlier in the evening!

Coming to the present, we live in this semi-rural place which reminds me of the village of my parents. I can’t sneeze without half-a-dozen people enquiring solicitously after my health and when we have visitors we are asked peremptorily as to who they are and how long they would stay etc. I can’t cook anything without the whole street knowing what I made for lunch! When someone is ill or has had a major surgery, everyone visits them to see if any help is needed. This is in sharp contrast to the cities where flat neighbours sometimes don’t even know each other’s faces!

I am digressing dreadfully. So what was I saying? That we are living in a village — a virtual village no less. You’d have got the general drift by now. No? Well, here you go then:

A lady in Boston has a cousin in Bathinda who has had an accident and urgently needs two units of a rare blood group. Those on the spot are distraught being unable to arrange for it. So what does this lady do? Just tweets the SOS! This is picked up by her followers who then tweet it to theirs and so on. Soon cyberspace is echoing with all the tweets and lo and behold! Two good natured sardars appear at the hospital, their sleeves rolled up, offering the lifesaving fluid!

Sounds like the village rising up as one to help the old lady in distress? You bet.

Sunita has just got word that four of her friends are coming home for dinner and she needs the recipe for dal makhani, which one of them loves. So she rushes to the laptop and tweets her friends. Soon she has the perfect recipe for it. Well, cyberspace might not actually conjure up a spread like a real village, but it comes pretty close, doesn’t it?

All I need to do is log on to one of the social networking sites and I get to know what the Big B did over the weekend, what time Tendulkar turned in the previous night, what Priyanka Chopra had for lunch and so on.

Everyone who is anyone is on Facebook, Twitter and what-have-you. We go to town tweeting our whereabouts, our activities and gossip about what so-and-so did or is going to do! Is this any different from life in a village? Isn’t it even better, since you don’t have to crane your neck trying to see what is going on in the neighbourhood and the ‘neighbourhood’ is the whole world? A click of the mouse sitting in front of your PC and you have it all!

What I find strange is that we talk of ‘space’ and ‘privacy’ and then tweet it all to the world at large! Does that mean that the veneer of reserve is thin enough to expose the villager in each of us? Is it gossip, concern, one-upmanship, ego trip?

All you tweeters, enlighten me please!

24 comments

  1. Hey dats a good post, I am really gloating after reading this…Well, I had been tweeting from last Dec. I enjoyed Twitter and still like it. Yes today we want Space and privacy and we DEMAND it and on the other hand we share our daily lifes with people , be it on facebook and be it on Twitter. No one has time for each other in this fast paced world now, so they become one easy way to track anyone or to know who’s doing what, or just a simple way to be in touch with friends.
    Talking Privacy, How many stars are there on Twitter?? Many ? Why do they join it one by one? as if it’s a chain reaction happening. Latest one is Amitji, who joined the group. 24K + followers in a day.
    People like to flaunt, to talk , to satiate there ego, to track people, for anything. Purpose could be anything. My friends wen come back from any trips update pics on Fb or wen going for a trip , proudly text it on twitter and FB. For what?. For us to know that they are going? ofcourse, for friends and family.
    Another major thing is we discuss society , norms, ideas, creativity, humor anything , openly , allowing people to join us from any nook and corner of the world. The feeling of being Connected is Nice. The purpose has to be decided by us.
    I read yesterday’sTOI and it was Saif who was said,” I will not join Twitter, as I feel there has to be a gap between stars and audience”. It’s clear what he means. He wants Space.
    But honestly Even being on twitter or FB is no harm, U have a space of ur own, ur own privacy. Ur friends can surely see what u type and upload , but its in ur hands.
    I was nowhere in any social site till Nov 2009, As i always belived in space and hated for friends to track me. But at the end of the day i joined FB and twitter. FB for me is just a plce where m connected to my friends. I dnt write much, no uploads.
    And yeah I love twitter, its much much better than FB, Talk abt ideas, creativity, anything, in 140 letters, Feels like a Game!. I have 13K followings and know 300 of them personally. Enjoy reading there blogs ( have read few of them). It’s nice, search people of ur interest , add them , read them and enrich urself, less personal talks . It’s a good medium to make ur sites blogs popular, to discuss issues , to make new friends.
    Talk about cybernag, how people are coming in here?. WOM? Twitter? Blogroll?. All must have contributed. But which is more. Either a Blogroll or twitter?. M sure VInni can throw light on it.
    If by twitter people land up to donate blood, m sure it has a long way to go , as it is CRISP and quick.
    So ZM its about what u choose , Space remains there, no one can snatch it. Yes we like to be heard aloud, and twitter is the platform for real global connectivity.
    Take care and loads of love!

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    1. So you have sold me Twitter! But I am not buying,…yet! Somethings are to be admired from far, this is one of them! 🙂

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  2. another gem of a post, amma…

    my parents village is sort of same.. the people not the area… i remember one night wen Mom’s bro passed away and the whole street came to take care of us kids…

    and regd twitter.. Hail!! if not for twitter i ll be nothing now.. my work network moves thru web 2.0 and i even get my directions from twitter if i head out to some unknown location..

    🙂

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    1. Thanks Ratzzz. All villages are the same, even the one I am living in now! 🙂

      These technology driven kids! But I must admit that it is marvelous. I remember the boys using GPRS for directions when we were headed to Swamimalai on horrible roads, some time back! 🙂

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  3. Hey moving post!!!!Glad to be blogger mates 🙂

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    1. Welcome here Witty Jester! Me too 🙂

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  4. can’t believe that you are new to blogging. I’ve had an experience of the entire street coming home when my condition turned bad just before my first child was born. i had soaring blood pressure, lost my eyesight and was on sedatives. At least 25 people had gathered to express their solidarity and the attending doctor had to literally push them out since she was not able to concentrate.

    face book and twitter are fine but they can only be substitutes. but two unknown people landing up to donate blood was very touching.

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    1. Welcome here Padma. That experience sounds so nice! Oh my god! you lost your eyesight? sounds scary! How did it come back? No wonder so many of your neighbours came to share your pain!

      Btw, I am not on Twitter or FB. Please see my son’s cpmment 🙂

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  5. Very interesting article indeed! I am glad to see gen-X connecting with gen-Y through the medium gen-Y prefers.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Vivek and welcome here! Isn’t it always what Gen Y prefers? 😛

      Read the L&M series and you will know! 😀

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  6. Views about twitter… Hmmm…. well I do tweet occasionally but I do not really like the medium and nor do I understand the utter necessity for people to tweet about their toilet schedules and lunch breaks to the whole wide world… and that too in 140 characters… I actually marvel at the success of twitter given the fact that to me it just seems to be the status update of facebook 😛
    As for the fact that the world is a village, I feel that this exists even in cities albeit in isolated pockets. Recently, at the time of a family bereavement, our neighbours poured in with help and food without being asked to… and I live in Pune… So people do help out usually… The “flat culture” that you talk of wherein people of the flat next to yours have not met you is, I think, something very specific to Mumbai. I have been living in my current accommodation since August last year and I don’t even know the names of our neighbours here. In fact, the neighbours are also least bothered about us as long as we do not host parties and generally drink and make a ruckus. But between late hours in office and our teetotalism that does not happen and so they never even talk to us.

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    1. That was a good one about Twitter! I am not too keen on the medium either or I would have got on to the bandwagon, Vinni or no Vinni! What I tried to point out was that the world is shrinking and as in a village the cyberspace also encourages people to share everything from what they ate and where they are going! Apparently my views are too tame, going by the number of comments some of which I had to ASK for!:)

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  7. I must warn everyone here, who ever tries to enlighten her about twitter also takes up the responsibility of teaching my mom about it. I am not teaching twitter to mom. NO way sir!

    Am I the worst son or what?

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    1. i thought you were the one who taught folks about social media 😛

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      1. you tell him!

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    2. Dude I have taught my mom how to use fb!!! U think this is gonna beat that? 😛

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      1. Pl read the reply to Vinni! 🙂

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      2. and what is this? Do we moms have to now unite to stand up against the sons or what?

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    3. Now look what you have gone and done! You have sacred away all the commentors with your super comment! Bah!

      Even Siddharth who comes out with his views on every post, has not commented on this one. Or is it so bad? 😦

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    4. Hey, Why not give it a shot. M sure she’s indeed a fast learner!

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      1. Right you are! As I told Siddharth earlier, I am not too keen on it, or I would be there tweeting to all the world, whether anyone teaches me or not!

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  8. ummm… I wouldn’t know coz I’m not really that much of a tweeter, but my observations aren’t far off from yours. Given my tech habits, one could am a slow mover, I still use my phone for the basic stuff – net browsing is an not really a necessity for me – perhaps with a different job role I might want it.
    Regarding privacy, one can be as private as one wants. I can tell someone a lot and yet keep stuff to myself. If one observes, the stuff on twitter wouldn’t exactly be termed private by any yardstick of imagination – talking about fav restos, cafe, the places one has been to, the colleague whom you dislike, or the one who has an awesome suit/watch – these aren’t exactly private. And to top it all, the users had been weaned away from holding stuff back long ago over the year through blogs and internet chat rooms. So, if one could write a whole page about how lovely the day is, 140 chars is a piece of cake.

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    1. Thanks for the perspective, Sumit. If it is ot private then is it gossip? or venting ire in public? Media is making us do things we wouldn’t have dreamt of otherwise. That is what our villagers do. every info is shared!

      I am sure if your had not commented first, you too might have been scared away by Vinni’s comment. 😛

      Like

      1. sumit · · Reply

        nah!! not really… 😀

        Like

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