Thursday, 5 January 2017

Hemantha Kalam - 40 'Power Slaves'

For us people living in Chennai, the months of November-December 2016 have proven how much of power slaves we have become.

Well, when I talk about “Power” Slaves, please do not conclude that I am talking in the same breath as we do about a “Power” nap or a “Power” lunch etc.

Please also do not conclude that I am writing of those politicians who used to prostrate before their party leader and after the sudden demise of that leader subverted to the one ostensibly next in line. No sir, I am not talking of that too as it is none of my business to have anything about why a politician does and what and when and how?

What I am talking about is precise and definite.

I am talking of the times when we have now become slaves to “ATMs”; slaves to “Apps”; Slaves to “Internet”; and slaves to…………

When the demonetisation of Rs.1,000 and Rs.500 currency notes in the country was announced on the 8th of November, 2016, and reprieve was given for a few days to exchange the existing notes or deposit the same in bank accounts, I was actually checking the ‘power’ of my daughter’s eyesight at an ophthalmologist’s place. By the time I was through with that and I came to know of the announcement and thought of depositing whatever notes I had in the house, before they could become ‘power’less, I found unprecedented crowds and queues – some “ruly” and many unruly – in front of those Any Time Money (Automated Teller Machines are the right words though) Machines which would accept deposits. There was no need to suffer such queues if one is going to deposit the same in bank accounts. Yet there it was and there they were.

More than two months hence, the queues still are there in front of the ATMs – this time to withdraw their own money which is coming out in trickles; that is if the ATMs have the money loaded into. We spend so much of time every day in front of ATMS that we have almost become slaves to them.

December arrived with the news of the sudden demise of our beloved Chief Minister, with much confusion and uncertainty. For days, people became slaves of those two new powers called the ‘Facebook’ and ‘WhatsApp’. So much news was bandied on these two media platforms that collectively must have put AP, PTI and Reuters down by a few notches in news gathering and collating.

And Chennai has been hit by “Vardah” the Cyclone / Hurricane / Typhoon - call what you may as is convenient to you – on the 12th December. The entire city and the suburbs were shaken and swayed perilously by winds gusting with a velocity and speed of over 150 kmph that I do not remember to have witnessed in the past few decades. In the wake of its few hours of fury (3-4 hours really) it left the entire city ‘Power’less of electricity.

As almost a third of the trees and thus most of the city’s greenery were ravaged; the trees took the electric poles and cables with them – snarling and snapping them; smashing the power transformers in every which way. No ‘power’ for light, fans and air-conditioning. No power for electric stoves, water filters – And yes, no power for the mobiles and computers and no power for the internet connectivity.

Now at the ATMs it is a double whammy – no power so no money too and no money so no power! Now interpret this! J

With nothing much to do, people started ‘talking’ to other members in the family. They started talking to their favourite Gods for deliverance from ‘Vardah’ only to be ‘enslaved’ by the ‘Power” as soon as possible, if not immediately.

Could not see many ‘Uber’ or ‘Ola’ cabs on the roads for more than three days after ‘Vardah’, as mobile connectivity was hurt and so did the App connectivity. As I wrote in my earlier blog, when it came to hiring cabs through aggregators, the rules of the game are different. The cab aggregators stopped taking in calls for requesting cabs as they work now only through apps. Now it hurts the aggregators, the cab owners and the drivers and the passengers too! There now is a need for cabs that can be flagged down anyplace! Yes, Auto rickshaws are available and can be flagged down but unlike the aggregators who accept payment through e-wallets, many of these auto rickshaw people are yet to be ensnared er enslaved by such technology!

So, effectively during this period of ‘Power’ crisis, though most of the ‘slaves’ of this power were suddenly liberated physically for a couple of days, mentally they were badly ravaged. They all were like suffering from the Stockholm syndrome. You have been used to the kidnapper so much that you started empathising with him. In this case, the kidnapper who has enslaved us is what we have created.

Now you would be recognising the ‘power’ about which I am talking so far.

Yes, Technology!

But sadly, the technology that has been powered by human mind and electric power has started ruling the humans and enslaved them.

About a half century ago, when I was a kid, I used to read those comics of ‘Flash Gordon’ (First Comic strip Created in 1934) and ‘Magnus-the Robot Fighter’ (first Comic Strip Created in 1963) and used to wonder whether such things would really happen, at all! Now I know. Yes, now I am seeing them happen, in my own life time.

What I would not give to meet people like ‘Jules Verne’ and those who created Flash Gordon (Alex Raymond) and Magnus (Russ Manning) for their futuristic vision of technology, so that I can felicitate them for their futuristic thoughts of how humans could become slaves of their own creativity and their own ‘Power’?  

Well, folks, what do you think? Please, do let me know! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Dhanyosmi (Sanskrit), Thanks (English), Dhonyavaad (Bangla), Dhanyabad (Oriya), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai), Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino), Tack (Swedish), Fa'afetai (Samoan), Terima Kasih (Bahasa Indonesian) and Tenkyu (Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea).

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India


  1. Thank you, thank you dear Logs for your time and indulgence!

    Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy