More than 30 years ago, I walked up proudly to a stage before a few thousand people in the city of Ernakulam and received a prize, a good cash amount for a student in those days, from Justice Subramanian Poti. I had come first in an essay competition organised by the Corporation of Cochin. It was Professor Primus Perincheri, one of my Malayalam teachers in St Albert’s College, who urged me to participate in the Malayalam essay writing competition. I had to write 2000 words on a topic that I can’t now recall. “I’ll help you,” said Prof Perincheri.
|A moment with Justice Poti|
There was no computer, internet and Google in 1983. Being a member of the Ernakulam Public Library, I had access to the reference section which possessed a fabulous collection of encyclopaedias and other reference books as well as back issues of newspapers and periodicals. I spent two entire days collecting the material for the essay. I wrote the rough draft of my essay which Prof Perincheri edited before I wrote the final version.
Three decades later, as a teacher of English when I give assignments to my students, what I get is instant work copy-pasted from the internet via Google search and printed out without even being subjected to some basic necessary editing. When I question the students on the material submitted by them, I get the rude shock: they have not even bothered to read it.
What has Google done to the world? I asked the question to myself when I saw the latest discussion topic at an Indian bloggers’ community website.*
I rely heavily on Google for a lot of information so much so Google is the home page on every electronic gadget (four in number) I use. Google literally makes information available at the fingertips. I don’t need membership in any library anymore. The arduous journey to the temple of wisdom is unnecessary. Google is my threshold to that temple now. The temple travels with me wherever I go. So life without Google (or any such efficient search engine) would be unimaginable now!
But I’m not sure whether Google and the internet are made proper use of by the youngsters. Secondly, hasn’t the internet with its bewitching accessories like chat-sites and social networks undermined real relationships?
Two years back, i.e., almost three decades after I had my last encounter with Prof Perincheri, I spoke to him on phone. A classmate of mine who visited me in Delhi from Ernakulam gave me the professor’s number. I was reluctant to make the call. I didn’t want to face the possibility of having been forgotten by one of my favourite teachers. “He remembers you,” assured Joseph Henry, my classmate who is now a Jesuit priest. I dialled the number reluctantly and was thrilled beyond words when Prof Perincheri recognised me as soon as I mentioned my name.
Such surprises and excitements are sure to vanish from the world run by Google and the internet. In the world of instant links and instant clicks, the soul is left with a longing, a longing for a stirring, a stirring somewhere deep, deep below the instant gratifications.
* Prompted by #worldwithoutgoogle of Indiblogger