Sea Salt

With the Indian Ocean splashing on shore and all those coconut trees dispensing the breeze right into my face, it is nothing less than a feeling of heaven!

There are mosquitoes, but mosquitoes are a lesser evil than the evil induced or committed by humans. We humans, although it might be very haughty to call myself a human, commit such evil that even evil says “God mercy”.

We, the herd, are so misplaced in our thoughts that we consider evil as good and good as evil. For us poverty is an evil, but pseudo riches are good. We spend what we don’t have and we have what we don’t have. Our lives are virtual. Our thoughts are virtual. Our reality is virtual.

Look at this man heading down a busy road in Singapore with his eyes dug into an iPhone screen. He is into his FB and for him the virtual face is more real than the faces that he might knock into, walking down the street absent-mindedly. But once again reality has turned into virtuality and virtuality has taken over reality.

You see all those apps, offering you to do farming online, town building online, playing strategy online and  all those things, which we used to do physically are now done electronically. Most interestingly, when your friends ask you to join their cityville or online farm, you can’t help laughing at the idea of someone offering you something that does not exist.

More funny is the situation, when your friend sends you the best quality carrots, from his or her Farmville holdings. Holy cow! Have people lost their minds? Is it the only possibility of sharing left in this world?

And then, on the same road, I see people walking towards the subway entrance, heading to the escalators, but the predominant happenings are all in their screens. They don’t think about stumbling and falling down the escalator or bumping into someone. All they care about is the conversation that they have running in one of the many social networks.

You’re standing somewhere, trying to find a place, but being an alien in this sea of iPhones and iPads, you need to ask someone to show you the way, but unfortunately all the passers-by are busy. You don’t feel like disturbing someone, but then again if you remain loyal to your politeness, you will stand there and wait till the evening to go where you need to go. So being a little rude, you say “Excuse me” to one of the set of eyes buried into the screen, and those eyes lose their focus to look at you inquisitively. You take courage and ask them about the desired destination and even if that place is just 2 blocks away, this person will refer to his or her GPS app to show you the way and the moment you say “Thank you!” the eyes give you a virtual nod and they go back to their world in the screen.

On the other hand if you are not on the Orchard road or Serangoon Road, but you are on the Indian Ocean shore, the iPhones are replaced by human eyes and human smiles and human curiosity. On the shores of Sri Lanka and it does not mean only on the shores, but everywhere life is very real. Virtuality has not yet penetrated into the lives of the dark tanned inhabitants, who still have the same real problems like finding employment, feeding children and themselves also. Problems like counting the money they have and thinking about spending on things most important first of all. Problems like dreaming to buy a car, or a house or travelling to lands far away.

But in reality these problems and other ones have not made them into money making machines, because they can survive without FB and e-mail and other online farms and cities. They still watch TV on a regular TV screen and even if they don’t have a TV they still don’t mind it. They still read printed newspapers and they read books, with a hard cover or a soft cover and they still mark the pages with a pencil or a ball point pen. They still take pride in being human and they like to talk to each other in the trains and buses and on the road and in their houses and they still have real friends, who might not be listed in a friend list and might not be as many as 718 or 2543, but they are real and they can come to share your joys and your sorrows. The people from this Indian Ocean Island might not be able to get limitless credit to buy luxury cars or condominiums, but inside their earthen huts and brick walled houses, they still have happiness, laughter and smiles. Their kids can run around in a single pair of shorts that they have, but their eyesight is 100%, they don’t need glasses, before even starting school. They don’t need dental braces and their laughs are not dependant on the evenness of their teeth.

Back on the most popular and important and busy roads of the other Island, which is sunk deep into virtuality, into a sea of Galaxies and HTCs and other wide-screen, touch-screen, multi-mega-pixel, app loaded gadgets, he is walking towards the subway with his wife, talking about something interesting and engaging. All of a sudden his feet stopped moving and with a loud sound his 2 meter long corpus humanum fell down like a plank, hitting the sidewalk with his palms and barely escaping his forehead crashing into the granite tiles. He was astonished, unable to understand what happened and she was standing there stunned by the scene of her husband falling without any apparent reason.

And then he pulled himself together, overtook the shock and looked at his feet. He was thinking that his shoe laces were undone and he got tangled, but how come?

Then he saw a thin, transparent packing stripe holding his feet together. What was that packing stripe doing there? In a country, which once took pride in being the cleanest and in a country where every act of loitering is heavily fined and in a country where all your actions are documented and never forgotten. In a country, which employs more than a million aliens to keep the city clean, and in a country, about which he used to tell tales of discipline and human practicality?

Then he sat there on a nearby bench and he remembered a childhood poem:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king’s horses

And all the king’s men

Could not put

Humpty Dumpty together again!

He was sitting there and he was thinking and he was the Humpty Dumpty, all of whose dreams and memories, were shattered by that fall. And all the world’s iPhones, iPads and all the world’s dollars could not put the Humpty Dumpty of his memories together again!

Your comments are precious