Ten years ago, life was complicated. If you were working the graveyard shift, you had to go to the General Taxi Service under the peepal tree, kick at the cot on which the driver lay snoring, who would get up swearing and scratching his pajamas and quote a price which at cost-per-kilometre would match what Elon Musk is asking for to take you to Mars. (You, of course, wouldn’t have heard of Elon Musk then). Ten years ago, the first week of the month went in standing in queues to pay bills for electricity, water, MTNL, Garuda, gas cylinder, what have you. If you had to transfer funds to someone, two more days went standing staring at the bank teller. If you were travelling, add another couple of days at the state-of-the-art (fully AC) computerised railway booking counter whose terminal always went on the blink just before your turn.
Fake news perhaps existed from the times of the Mahabharata when Sanjaya reported to Dhritarashtra that the Kauravas were winning, but ten years ago post-truth had a philosophical ring to it. Tweet was a birdcall, only godmen peddling nirvana had followers and it was criminals who were tagged. Ten years ago we went to Pankaj Electronics to buy a TV, to Fact & Fiction to buy a book, to the sabjiwallah to get vegetables, to a nearby Udupi to drink coffee. Uber was an adjective—uber-rich, uber-chic, uber-cool—and ola was hailstorm in Hindi (as in sar mundathe hi ole pade). ‘Likes’ was a verb, emoji a pictograph in Japanese...molecular was biology, not cuisine. Ten years ago, Amazon was a river or a rather large and statuesque lady warrior, GB a road of disrepute in Delhi and listicles would have sounded obscene. GPS was rocket science and drones were male ants. ‘What’s up’ is how Psmith greeted a forlorn Mike, new to the City, not something we feverishly forwarded messages on.