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Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Nomad across Time

As I live in the year 2012, and travel to different places, I realise that not all of us are living in the same spot in time. Yes we may all be recording the same year on our calendars – but even as we all stand in 2012, some of us live in 1970 and others in 1950.

This is an observation about everything that defines a time zone or an era – the extent to which modern day discoveries and inventions have seeped into the lives of people, as well as the thinking of the individual and the society.

For instance – in Singapore people live their lives almost totally dependent on technology and are constantly wired minute to minute. That group has embraced every little piece that science and technology has offered to the public and made it an integral part of their lives. The first thing that I do when I wake up is to rush to check emails – even though I know that the world will go on without an instant reply – but I am addicted to being wired to the outside world.

Another group  – the urban elite of Bombay – are following by about a few years. They are living lives – with respect to the presence of technology – that Singaporeans lived maybe a few years ago.They have totally embraced the new media but it has yet to become a ‘life support system’ for them. Its just a mater of years before that happens.

A third group – the un-elite urbanite – follows the second group by a few decades – and so, lives in the equivalent of the year 1980. My phenomenal maid and cook, my ex-chauffeur and my parents and grandparents all are part of the bustling Bombay partaking of the prosperity here, with their net-worth soaring like never before.But in terms of technology – they remain rooted in the days of my childhood. Where the TV is the only technolody that has entrenched itself in their lives. They still depend on landline telephones for communication and human meet ups for social bonding.

Go one step further and there is my amazing caretaker in Goa from a gypsy tribal family. In in his village he  water is available at the village tap and women carry away pots of water to their respective homes from that point. Landline phones do not exist in homes and internet, privacy and privacy laws are unheard of.
A point in lifestyle evolution that was quite likely seen by the Singaporeans in the Kampung lifestyle of the early 1900s, and my grandparents in the 19060s.

So while all these different groups live in the same year 2012, their lifestyles are separated by decades.

Physical living conditions are visible to the eye, and it is easy to make these observations and draw these conclusions (the examples above are just a miniscular few of the glaring differences in lifetsyle that can be seen). But alongside these physical anachronisms, there is also a psychographic anachronism amongst all these people groups that is easy to see, but hard to abstract and present conclusively.

Flitting from one time zone to another as I travel between these places and people 4- 5 times a year and then back and forth between different decades is often confusing and it takes effort to remind myself of the time context of the people I am with in that moment.

My kids taught me a new word a few years ago ” Biome” – which meant the physical habitat of the creature (I think!). So here in my world I can see that each of these groups lives in a different psychographic biome.

Maybe my tribal caretaker’s descendents will one day evolve to the lifestyle of the present day Singaporean – maybe not. Maybe an altogether new evolutionary path may come about – maybe new directions, or skipped stages will be seen……..

But at this point it IS interesting to note that as on 2012, there are people living in several parts of the past as I know it.

jm

March 2012

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This entry was posted on March 14, 2012 by in Thought Kaleidoscope.

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