My home is an NRI village. Every home has 2 or more people in UK, US or Gulf. There are houses where only old parents are there. My neighbour has his 4 sons and daughter in Europe. The entire village changed when the NRI money started flowing in. And technology was the enabler.
First came the phone lines. It was the need of the younger generation abroad to have phones at home. They wanted to call in any time, to check up on their old parents. And in those days the entire telephony market was in the hands of BSNL. But their capacity was limited and for the normal people there was a long wait to get a connection.
But BSNL had this special plans for people who are in urgent need for a telephone line, like doctors and rich people. These people can file a special application and would get a priority on the connection. NRI families were the earlier ones to adopt. They could get their application processed speedily by paying some additional fees.
The same was the story with internet also. The NRIs were the early adopters. During the initial days of the internet it was dial up regime. There were many private providers and we had to dial STD to get access, but still people were willing to pay that call rate just to chat with their grand children on yahoo messenger.
Being a local computer expert at that time, I had done many PC installations for the old folks in my village. Those days, branded PCs costed twice, when compared to the assembled ones. Assembling was also a lot different. Now a days we have integrated motherboards with all the cards on the board itself.
During the initial days, we had to buy each part separately, like sound card, video card, serial card etc. The modem was an external one and it made loud noises during connection establishment. Many of the old people could not be taught the complex operations like dialling and signing in. So we used to setup the computer in such a way that it would dial as soon as windows is loaded and then automatically sign into yahoo.
We had a computer institute there which taught basic computer operation and internet usage. The course was aimed at the old people with NRI children. I still remember teaching them to use yahoo messenger. Mailing and chatting was the most popular internet activity among the old. It was quite emotional to watch the grand parents chatting with the grand children half a world apart.
Story by kenney Jacob
kenney.jacob at gmail