Today, when i read the news on my Android phone that Godrej & Boyce Company has stopped the production of typewriters. I said to myself an era has finished. An era has ended without even getting noticed. Change is life I guess. A cycle of thoughts percolated, brought to fore some old memories.
The last decade and a half saw the world change so swiftly, the changes that we have witnessed in this part of the world is so much that one who stayed aloof from these changes without adapting just swept away. Some ten fifteen years ago nobody knew what social networking tools were, nobody was aware that the internet could revolutionise the world so much. But all this is now a reality. The poor souls who stuck to their traditional skills without changing according to times found no mention of their names in the new order.
This tale is one such tale, that I saw with a heavy heart. The only problem with the protagonist here was, he was caught off guard, he was stubborn that the winds of change that were flowing will not flow his direction. But it was only his presumption.
The protagonist was the teacher, the owner of one Typing Institute. The period was around 1990-1995. Yes, learning typing for college students was not out of fashion then, even the stenography classes were operating in full strengths then. This teacher of mine, Mr.Sonawane, was a gritty person, he was a typewriter mechanic and was one of the busiest person. His Institute boasted of having around 30 typewriters and the institute would open at six in the morning and close at 11 in the evening. All the batches ran packed and he was just happy minting money. His typewriter repair business was also working fine and he seemed to be confident of a good stable future ahead.
Around that time, the IT Revolution ushered in its full form, yes, the government had undertaken the IT programme since 1989, but, at ground level, we witnessed the changes in form of cropping up of Computer Institutes like Aptech, Datapro, NIIT etc. and hordes of students soon started joining these institute.
Mr Sonawane was, however, a relaxed man. His contention was that for one to learn computer, he must be able to type properly and for that he must have to learn to type. He never cared to think another way round that while learning computer itself a person gets adapted to keyboard stroke by stroke and gets basic typing knowledge. Mr Sonawane was however stubborn. Stubbornness never pays. How right was the tale of Old Oak tree and little shrubs, that we learnt in our schooling days?
Slowly but surely the intake of the Institute started declining. Mr Sonawane hoped against hope that he will be able to bring good old days. He adopted all the tricks in the trade, brought in new typewriters, reduced fees, but nothing seemed to work. He was selling a wrong product, at a wrong place, at a wrong time, I guess.
After a couple of years somewhere in 1994-95, the Institute started giving deserted looks, the once active looking teacher now started looking a tired and weary man. His business of typewriter repairs was not going the way he wished, as the businesses had now shifted from typewriters to computers. His business went awry soon after. The landlord confiscated the machines as the teacher failed to pay the rent of the place for months. The Institute which once ran in full swing, where students waited for their turn to use typewriter was now nowhere. Mr Sonawane had failed, failed to read the winds correctly, I said to myself.
I met Mr Sonawane after around 5 years, he was a defeated man, defeated by events beyond his control, his folly was that he could not adapt to changes swiftly, his inability to fathom the course of future. He told me that he was staying in some slums near my office. He came to my office that day, and I really felt sorry to see him in that attire, old nearly torn clothes, unshaved wrinkled face. The poor guy was hungry it seems, I took him to the canteen and provided him food, from the way he gulped it, I thought he needed it badly. I lost touch with him after that, I never saw him again, the poor old man must have died a death unnoticed and may be unwept.
The new world order that is ushered now due to the revolution in IT is very demanding. The changes take place very swiftly and the one who is not able to adapt must expect to lose out, this order is very ruthless and one has no second option, but to be in tune with it. Lest perish.
Sadly for Mr.Sonawane, he was a victim of transition, for he lost in transition.