Tracing contacts to unlock the lockdown

Tracing contacts to unlock the lockdown

Raj Kadyan

WE are living in the jungle of technology. New gadgets and apps are assailing us by the day. These simplify life for some, but for others, these innovations have come too late, when our minds are already jaded. Barring exceptions, most of us live in the comfort of the past and consider technology an irksome intruder.

Lockdown has been hard. The nothing-to-do status is causing ennui. Though for retired folks of my vintage, who otherwise also had nothing to do, there is little to complain.

The other day, I decided to re-establish contact with my Army peers, now in their late seventies and plus. I picked up the course directory prepared for our golden jubilee reunion in 2012, and began dialling. The conversations had almost a set pattern.

‘Hello’, the gruff military voice would say. I would identify myself. ‘Hold a minute’ was invariably the reply, as he went searching for his hearing aid. Being the caller, mine was already hooked. ‘Sorry for the wait, who is it?’ After I repeated my name, it would take a few seconds for his brain to fire, and for recognition to dawn. Then, ‘Arrey Raj, tu ...kahan se bol raha hai?’ Use of cuss words endearingly took us back to our happy teens in the academy.

It was invigorating to connect with them after so many years. Perhaps the longest had been with Inoubi Singh Chanam. We had last met in early 1965 when we were both admitted to the military hospital at Delhi Cantonment. He was overjoyed when I called him up in Imphal. Sarabjit is managing his farm in a village at Yamunanagar, and disclosed that the rooms in his house are big enough for walking. 'The village did not have a bank. I managed to get one set up last year.' Habitat improvement had always been his forte.

Gurmit Randhawa has switched from growing roses to real estate in Ooty and insisted we visit them. A similar invite came from Seshu Rao, living in the idyllic Aamby Valley. Joe Prabhu of the Signals Corps in Bengaluru had just been on 'Zoom' with his children abroad when I called. 'Look Joe,' I said, 'as a non-technical mind, the only zoom I know is when someone drives by, speedily raising dust.' But he was one up. 'Ha! But you Pongos' — he said using the slang term for infantry soldiers — 'captured the Kargil heights!'

And the calls continued, bringing back memories. In some cases, where the officers had passed away, I called up the ladies. These calls were sombre. I would ask them if they had any problem with pension etc. Fortunately, all are being well looked after.

The colleagues were upbeat and enjoying their evening years. I couldn't have utilised the lockdown period better. I have given this app of mine a name — KIT — for keeping in touch.

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