I finally succumbed to my wife’s requests, (read that as: persistent nagging), of clearing – for want of a better description – my electronics junk drawer.
25 years of carefully hoarded, obsolete, but ‘you-never-know-when-they-may-be-needed’, cables and equipment.
A drawer chock-a-block with a virtually inseparable matrix of legacy cables. Serial…parallel…SCSI…firewire 400…S-video…USB1…names that are more at home between the pages of a history book than a computer manual.
It was like opening Pandora’s box, taking me back to a time where terms like ‘wi-fi’, ‘Bluetooth’, and ‘broadband’ were still in the realms of science fiction.
An era where upgrading RAM from 2MB to 4MB meant breaking the bank. And where having a pentium computer with a 15” CRT colour monitor changed the complexion of many a friendly neighbourhood cyber pal from wheatish to green.
As I began to untangle the mesh, items from another world began to appear.
Each one pinging a different memory centre in my brain.
Of the planned holiday abroad that spawned the question: “What should I get on this trip?”. Of the months of research that followed. Of the man-hours spent away from sightseeing at electronic stores and finally, of the sheer joy of pouring over the manual of my new toy all the way on the flight back home!
Delving deeper, the red lettering on a 56K dialup US Robotics modem began to show through. Evoking recollections of the eager anticipation when ordering this beauty, and with it, the promise of ‘unimaginable’ download speeds!
Memories of a shop in Tottenhan… an animated discussion with the store keeper on the available choices… and my first ever set of digital images taken in London.
One by one the devices kept emerging.
A Canon A80 4MP digital camera, a Minolta film camera, a glut of non-functioning mobile phones, charging bricks of every conceivable size, a Sony digital handycam 110E that was more wall than brick…
As I lovingly fondled each piece of hardware, I revelled in their memory and the hours of pleasure that each one of them had provided.
A shuffling sound behind me cut short the reverie. The Raddiwalla was here to purchase my priceless cache and I steeled myself to the next hour of tough negotiation.
Although back to reality the warm nostalgic glow persisted and my emotion counter was well into the magnanimous range. Magnanimous enough to consider educating the man and give him a guided tour of this mini Smithsonian.
To say I was totally unprepared for the events that followed is a gross understatement. Looking back I can only assume that our brains were running on vastly differing Operating Systems. (Mine akin to the Mac OS while his probably on par with DOS.)
Brushing past me, and negotiations be damned, he began shovelling each delicate relic of electronic history into a filthy gunny sack. I cringed as he secured the top with a rope and proceeded to drag the sack out of the house, bumping and thumping on the floor as it went.
I guess the final straw was not the ridiculous 500 rupee payment he gave me for the lot, but the condescending expression on his face as he did so. Suggesting that, as far as he was concerned, it was him, not I, that was the magnanimous one!