An email from a ‘young’ tech savvy grandfather to his loving grandson.

Air Vice-marshal Swaminathan Iyer, a retired Air Force officer, who was in his early 70s was returning home in his chauffeur driven car. He had just attended an interesting seminar on ‘social media’. However, his old face, which normally had an affectionate smile bore a dull look. Suddenly, Air Marshal Iyer received a ‘Whatsapp’ notification on his smartphone – It was a chat message from Mahesh, his only grandson. After reading the lengthy ‘Whatsapp’ message, Air Marshal became even more restless than before. However, in a short while, the old officer decided to write an email to Mahesh, who had recently gone to West Virginia for pursuing an MBA . With the swiftness of a teenager, he opened an Email App in his smartphone and started typing…

Blessings Kanna (kid)!

It’s been quite a while since the last time we had had an interesting exchange of ideas. So I thought of writing an email instead of having a lengthy whatsapp-chat. I just now came across your whatsapp message about smart phones, which I confess was bit lengthy and seriously boring. I really can’t understand how can an enthusiastic young chap like you subscribe to such a pessimistic outlook about smart phones or even social media for that matter. However, you are not alone, today I attended the most tiresome seminar of my life and it was about the social media….”the hazards of social media” was the topic. I was shocked to see young boys and girls, who were in their late 20s presenting an arid picture of their virtual lives in front of the audience.

After taking a holistic view of the social media story in India, a ‘young’ man like me feels that it is nothing short of a revolution. Twelve year ago I retired from Indian Air Force and at that time I felt, I would definitely lose contact with most of my old pals and my young flying officers. However, I was wrong. I am still in contact with them and that too only because of the Social Media utensils like Facebook and Whatsapp. 

When I was of your age, I hardly received a phone call or a letter, wishing me on my birthday. However, today I can see so many mails and messages with birthday wishes on my special day. Believe me, it really make an old man feel special. I remember, as young collegians, my friends and I would often hire a photo camera to click snaps of our parties and events. However, today I can capture any snap or record any event using my smart phone and If I wish I can instantly share that special moment with my loved ones. All thanks to makers of smartphones and pioneers of social media.

There was a time, when my military luggage had a fluorescent green bag only for books. That bag was very often a source of pun for my senior officers. However, today I hardly read books…I just browse internet to gather requisite information. Once upon a time it was said that ‘Books are your best friends!’ However, today it would be apt to say that ‘Internet is your best friend!’

My Appa (father) worked as a postmaster in Mudarai Post Office. He would happily help our village folks to write letters and send telegrams to their acquaintances. However, today we no longer require a postmaster to send messages or telegrams because we have ourself created a gentle giant of just 140 words for that purpose and we call him ‘Twitter’.  

When I was in school, I have seen days when my Appa  and I would wait for days or sometimes week, only to book a trunk call, so that I could speak to my cousin staying outside Madurai. However, today I easily initiate a Skype-video chat with the same cousin of mine, who now lives in Frankfurt. 

Your Paatee (grandmother) loved cooking different varieties of rice. So, every time before visiting home on a vacation, I would specially buy cookery books from a famous book stall near our Air Force Base. However, today you can check YouTube for videos of delicacies prepared in any part of the world. Sometime I immensely wish that your Paatee was alive today. I am sure, she would have cooked almost all delicacies that the virtual world offers us via YouTube.

Kanna, I do agree that the life of your generation has become complicated as compared to our generation. However, to blame smartphones or social media for it is fairly and squarely inaccurate. In Fact, these modern gadgets have made living much easier than before. The complication in your life arise not because your dependence on the devices of the virtual world but because of your generation’s addiction of these apparatuses. The day when your generation is freed from this enslavement, you all will truly befriend the virtual world. 

 – Your Loving Thatha (grandfather)!


After expressing his heart in front of his loving grandson, Air Vice-marshal Swaminathan Iyer was back to his old self..radiant and full of life!

Dedicated to my late Grandpa…miss you ‘Abuja’!