Monday, June 10, 2013

Iron Age Meets Digital Age

One of the constant themes we experience here is the contrast of old, traditional ways of doing things and the sleek, modern ways of the 21st century.  At times the juxtaposition is a clash.  Signing up for a cell phone connection can't be done without going into an office, submitting multiple forms with a signature, waving around many official papers, and waiting a few days for a visit at home to verify an address before the SIM card is activated.  Then after all that bureaucracy, BOOM, I can suddenly communicate with anybody around the world by pushing a few buttons.

It's just a short drive around the corner from our apartment complex with its emergency generators, treated water, and 24 hour security where my morning drive often passes the women beating out the stains of their families laundry on a slab of concrete with water delivered twice a day by a tanker-truck and collected in any watertight plastic vessel that can be gathered. 

The K/1 class in school was recently scrolling through pictures as of homes and cities.  They had to say which was modern and which was old.  It was an easy exercise until they came to a picture of a road with cows crossing it.  Textbook cognitive dissonance. It's not uncommon to see water buffalo clogging traffic under the Hi Tech city flyover which is in the shadow of Cyber Towers and just blocks from Google, Facebook, Dell, and many other tech companies here in Hyderabad.

Tonight I had another great one.  I came home to find that our wireless router was shot.  Dead.  I decided to race the oncoming black clouds of the monsoon and ran down the street to Chroma for new router.  The store had about 6 options to choose from.  I paid with a credit card and before I got home I heard a beep on my phone announcing the the arrival of my digital receipt.  With my mission accomplished and the rains not falling yet I decided to take a slower stroll home.  I bought 4 mangoes and 5 bananas from the flatbed carts at the corner for just over a dollar and watched as people easily slipped on and off buses that never come to a complete stop.  But the greatest contrast between the seamless electronic transaction for a little box that allows me to zip billions of bits of data to and from every corner of the earth through thin air was this, less then 100 yards away:

I've seen them here before with a charred goat carcass nearby and assumed this was some sort of pit barbecue.  Nope.  He was making an axe head by pounding away with a hammer on an anvil.  They noticed my photo snapping and proudly posed for a second photo.

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