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Dragged Kicking & Screaming Into The Modern World

by PRABHJOT SINGH

 

 

 


It was in 1986 that I had gone to London, England, for the first time to cover the World Cup Hockey Tournament. 

It was technology, especially that used in the transmission of news stories from the media centre to our respective newspaper organizations, that not only impressed me but also made me envious of fellow journalists from Western nations who had been using that technology.

How backward we were then in India was apparent when on my return I talked about the fax (facsimile) machine that I had just seen being used for the first time. Stunning was the experience as to how the exact impression of the copy put in the machine would get to the other side.

Looking at both the outgoing and the incoming copy, I was amazed at the advancement of technology.

On my return I, however, could not convince my then News Editor about the existence of such technology. He laughed at me, saying my trip to London, the first-ever foreign assignment for a Tribune Reporter, had gone to my head.

I had no means to convince him about how a fax machine worked on a telephone line.

Every time I would share my other experiences in London, he would look at me in disbelief as if I was revealing fantasies and not real incidents.

Five years later (1991), I had gone to New Zealand for covering the first ever Olympic Hockey Qualifying Tournament. On my way back I bought a National Panasonic fax machine from Hong Kong.

So here was my chance to prove my point to my News Editor.

One day I carried the machine to the office to show it to him. But then, how do we test it? No one we knew had a fax machine.

Somehow we managed to locate a friend in Delhi who had a machine. So, we called him to request him that the moment he received a message transmitted to him by us, he should read it out to us.

The test started in the presence of all of my newsroom colleagues who had assembled in the News Editor’s room to see the “miracle” machine. After a couple of minutes of synchronisation, transmission started. Then came the call and the message received by our friend in Delhi who, in turn, read it out to us.

My News Editor was still not convinced.

“You must have read out the message to him before coming to office. Now you are playing a game with us,” rued my boss, who otherwise was stunned by the way the whole operation was carried out.

His reaction, totally unexpected, baffled me. The whole exercise of buying such an expensive machine and bringing it to the office had apparently gone waste.

“OK, OK”, I told my News Editor. “Why don’t you write a message in your own hand and we will transmit it to him and ask him to read it out,” I suggested.

He agreed and wrote down a few lines on a piece of paper. That new sample was also transmitted to our friend in Delhi. He read it out over the phone.

The News Editor was now clueless, while everyone in his room was convinced.

The News Editor, however, had the last word: ”Whatever you may do, I still don’t believe it.”

 

[Courtesy: The Tribune]

April 25, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), April 25, 2012, 7:59 AM.

What an honest and realistic article!... Never mind technology, most Indians still think the world is flat!

2: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), April 27, 2012, 5:54 AM.

It was in the mid 1960's. My uncle, Dr. Tirlochan Singh, was then the DPI (Director of Public Instruction, Punjab) and based in Chandigarh. He had obtained a spanking new refrigerator and my Maami ji was gushing over it. One of our relatives, a joker, asked with feigned innocence: "Dar ji, show me the place where you put ice to make it cool."

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