AASHA MEHREEN AMIN
When I was growing up one of the few English TV series they showed on BTV was Space 1999, a Star Trek-like sci-fi depiction of how space travel would be like in that year and the kind of beings one would encounter along the way. At the time 1999 seemed so far away, so futuristic, so cool. The characters in the series wore funky, avante garde skin-tight costumes and would fraternise with exotic-looking aliens with special powers. When the real 1999 came it was a bit of a disappointment. Nothing seemed as futuristic as one would expect. Cell phones and web TV were old news and the only thing that caused a bit of a stir perhaps was the invention of the V drug a year earlier.
I guess the problem of not going all ga ga over a particular year after all the imagined advancement in previous years is because one is part of the whole process and thus every change becomes mundane after a while. Thus the best recourse is to let one's imagination run wild when thinking about the distant future, you never know, some of it may actually come true.
Say we think of Dhaka in September 3010 and it is a few days before Eid. Perhaps instead of reading this article (if you have the patience for it) in paper form (paper is almost extinct by now) you will just speak out the name of this publication and a device embedded in your ear will give you all the contents for that issue. Holograms will come up in front of you, whether you are in bed or driving your e-car, giving you a visual.
There are of course no traffic jams as there are expressways running parallel on top of each other, some monorails, some electric cars, some walkways. Also people don't go to shops anymore as online shopping is a big hit among shopaholics they can shop till their credit cards collapse and accounts close down but nobody needs to know. And all that hassle of wearing something decent, trying to wangle the car or getting on public transport has been eliminated. You can even see your virtual avatar going into the shop, haggling with the shopkeeper and coming out with all the goodies. Even tailoring is done virtually. You just select the materials onscreen, punch in the measurements and send a picture of the sample. The tailor will accumulate all this info and get cracking. If he messes up, you can always send expletives via email or just shout at him on the phone, the old fashioned way.
Even beggars can get alms via an agent who physically goes to the beggar of choice to give the money that the alms-giver pays through credit card. Fitra too, can be distributed via the internet.
For many people Eid is quite a hectic time as there are hundreds of relatives and friends to visit and to be visited by. It is sometimes impossible to go to every single house to pay one's respects. Instead you can be 'virtually' there- the Virtual Visitor will allow you to send holograms to your loved ones in real time so you can have images of your entire family in a particular house and even speak to them. Admittedly a bit spooky, but quite a good solution to the Eid guilt trips we suffer every festival. Again salaami can be paid online.
Sometimes spouses and children are very reluctant about visiting relatives they have seen once in five years. Easy solution- just call Hire a Relative (of course online). There is a whole range of relatives for hire – husbands, wives, children, grandparents. True it's a little deceptive but it is certainly worth it when you appear at some obscure relative's house in some faraway corner of the city and the relative is overcome with emotion to see that you took so much trouble, bringing the entire family. Don't worry about getting caught, your visits have been so rare they won't even know if you hire someone to be you.
The beauty of fantasies is that there are no limits and logic does not necessarily have to play a part. But sometimes it helps to keep your fantasies modest. Just imagine what life would be like without a single traffic jam. Certainly something to fantasise about.
(R) thedailystar.net 2010