Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lo Tech

It’s a little known fact that while I have the memory of an elephant for song lyrics (who else on this planet can sing flawlessly the first two verses of the Ewok Celebration Song?*), when it comes to technology, I might as well still be beating a jungle drum. You could send me off to a one week boot-camp on how to download an iTune, but at the end of the week, I’ll be back to sticking a CD into the player.

Saffy, on the other hand, is a freak of nature. This is the girl who once got lost for half an hour in Raffles Place MRT station (“Why are there so many levels in this place!” she screamed at me on the handphone) but put her in front of a machine, and she’s Rain Man. When Amanda’s laptop suddenly went blank, Saffy tapped a few buttons, keyed in a string of code, rebooted and all was well again. If an alien space-ship ever crash landed on Earth, she could probably repair, and then fly it back home while filing her nails.

“I don’t know how I do it,” Saffy said recently when she fixed our aging desk top computer. “It must be sheer natural talent. Now if only I could apply those skills to finding me a husband!”

Meanwhile, I’ve got my eye on the iPhone. Everyone I know has one. Even Ah Chuan, our fierce, semi-literate cleaning lady has one. In between mopping our floors, she can be seen busy flipping screens with her callused fingers. For the longest time, we wondered what she was doing until one day Amanda plucked up the courage to ask her.

“Apparently, she’s checking the stock market!” she reported that night.

“She owns shares?” I asked.

“Seems that way. And she says she’s making a killing, especially on her pharmaceuticals.”

“We pay her enough to own shares?” Saffy asked, looking thoroughly dissatisfied at Life’s unequal distribution of wealth.

The point is, we seem to be the only ones on the planet without an iPhone. But for different reasons. Amanda just got a phone from Prada and is reluctant to, in her words, trade down. Saffy says she doesn’t have two cents to rub together, and I, of course, am afraid that I won’t even know how to open the box in which the phone comes.

And I just know that the minute I fork over a year’s salary to buy the phone and then spent literally weeks learning how to turn it on, a new model will come out on the market.

And now, of course, there’s the Kindle. Everyone is talking about it. I’ve seen a few people on the MRT reading on it. And I love that it can hold thousands of books. Imagine going on holiday and just packing that thin machine instead of my usual pile of magazines and novels.

A few days ago, I came home to find Ah Chuan sitting at the dining table surrounded by mops and buckets of detergent.

“I’m not slacking, I’m resting!” she screamed at me the minute I walked in. “It’s incredible how you young people are so untidy and dirty!”

“I think you’re talking about Saffy,” I replied coolly in a combination of fractured Cantonese, Mandarin and Hakka. “I’m very clean and tidy. It’s practically a sickness!”

“You three are my weirdest employers! It’s a good thing I like you!” Ah Chuan shouted. “Do you want me to fix you lunch? I was just playing with my new toy!”

Which was when I noticed that our $10 an hour cleaning lady was fiddling with the latest version of the Kindle.

“She’s got a Kindle?” Amanda asked incredulously that night.

“Apparently, she’s learning English on it.”

“My God, how much are we paying that woman?” Saffy huffed.

“It’s just so unfair,” I complained, “that I can walk into any room and immediately, the tech quotient in the room drops by 75 points!”

“These days when I walk into a room, men just turn away,” Saffy said morosely. “What’s that all about?”

Amanda thinks we should just buck up and confront our fears. “It’s a phone, not the Space Shuttle!” she said firmly to me. And to Saffy, she said, “Men are just animals with a dumb-stick between their legs!”

Saffy blinked. You could tell her brain was turning.

I said, “Huh.”

Yesterday, Saffy asked John from HR out on a date. Meanwhile, here I am standing in front of the Apple store. I’m trying to be brave. And very softly, I’m humming the Ewok Celebration Song.

* If anyone is interested, this is the link to the Ewok Celebration Song:


loafer said...

you can't get the iphone from the apple store hahn ;-)

Jason Hahn said...

In London, you can.