Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cellular Weirdness

A friend gave me her SAMSUNG cellphone recently -- yes, some of us have friends like that! -- and as I struggle to adapt my poor, Sudoku-challenged brain to the vast gulf that separates a NOKIA from a SAMSUNG (for instance: the space-bar key is NOT the "0" but the "#". I've had it for five days now, and I STILL hit the wrong button all the time!) I've noticed a very odd feature: the phone seems to be travelling in an alternative universe. While I remain stationary in the house -- did I mention anywhere that I am currently in Madras? Visiting my Mum -- which should register under the location "CHETPET" in the phone, the phone manages to travel as far afield as MCNICHOLS ROAD and NUNGUMBAKKAM. Each time it travels it gives out a little buzz and does a jig on whatever surface it happens to be resting upon and a crescent-shaped alert-light goes on, on the front of the phone.

I forgot to ask my friend to tell me everything I needed to know about the phone, so there are lots of features that leave me puzzled and worried. Needless to say, I do not have a manual. It's a bit like walking blindfold through an unfamiliar house (we all do this periodically, don't we?? Ummm .. DON'T we???) -- I keep on bumping into stuff that seems familiar and then again ... isn't. Still. Now there's no going back to my previous phone, coz I have unaccountably managed to fry it. I mean, I wasn't TRYING to fry it, but I did insert a TATA Indicom SIM card into it, thinking that it would work just as well inside a NOKIA as it would (presumably) inside a TATA Indicom phone (which I don't have. Long story. Don't ask). WRONGGGGG! The NOKIA can neither find its own network now nor, it turns out, can it turn itself back on when I insert its original SIM into it (i.e., the one that's currently in the newly acquired SAMSUNG). Not only that, but it is displaying Japanese characters when it's got its original SIM inside it. Very disturbing. Fortunately, its internal list of numbers (i.e., the ones that were not saved to the SIM) are still accessible, so I can copy them (by HAND, what a thrill) into the SAMSUNG.

And so it goes! The joys of connectedness.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A New Year Gained, A Marble Lost ...

Yup. It's the fourteenth day of this new year and yet this is my FIRST POST. Ah well. So be it! We're slowing down in the blogging department, THAT'S for sure. But it's not been a bad year so far. Two weeks in. Hmm. We cross our fingers. We hope.

As for marbles lost, well ... a very weird thing began to happen, maybe two months ago. Quite suddenly I found, I simply could NOT complete the daily Sudoku in the newspaper. I get the Asian Age and it publishes two Sudoku puzzles every day, including Sundays. Quite generous of them! But whereas I used to be able to do both every day, I began to find that (a) I was starting to make fatal errors, resulting in unfinished puzzles and then (b) I stopped being able to do the harder of the two puzzles at all. I mean ... totally.

What does it mean? I feel very sure that it's not just chance or some change in the puzzle-format. I used to be able to do them and now, when I glance at the puzzle, I get nothing -- oh maybe one or two numbers to fill in, but that's all. And I used to be able to do the whole puzzle. I've never liked struggling with puzzles so either I did them fairly easily or I didn't bother. But this, now, is just complete blankness. I can even recall what it felt like -- a type of light melody, a note here, a note there and gradually the whole tune would fill up and the thing would make sense and all the bits would fall into place. For the harder puzzles, yes, I used to pencil in a few "candidates" then cross them off as other numbers found their niches.

So is this the beginning of the end? Should I make the effort of going to a neurologist to confirm that old Mr Al Z. Heimers has become a permanent lodger in my poor brain? I don't know whether I want to find out! Yes, I can still do the easy ones -- but I find them irritating, like nursery rhymes rather than a full-bodied tune. I hate acknowledging that this is ALL I can manage now, when just a couple of months ago, I was pretty confident I could get to the end of any puzzle I began. Still, I keep doing the easy ones, just so that I don't forget altogether. Every day I wonder when I am going to find that these are also beyond me!

It's an odd feeling. Like seeing myself fall off a cliff, in slow motion. Why is it a surprise? I'm 54 now and will turn 55 in June this year. So it's not as if the grey in my hair is just an illusion. There have been other marbles lost over the years, things I used to be able to do which I can't any more. When I was a pre-teen, I could write reams of doggerel, for instance -- but by the time I was twenty-five, I realized quite suddenly that I could no longer do it. It was like reaching into a cupboard for a jar of cookies that was normally always full, only to find that the jar had mysteriously disintegrated, vanished, ceased to be. I used to have a gigantic vocabulary but now, if I can find words of three syllables that reasonably express what I want to say, I feel grateful.

Weird, huh?

There's not much point feeling especially sad about it. There are millions of things I can't do -- have never been able to do -- and now there are a few more. Big deal. I'm concentrating on feeling grateful for the things I can still do. It's not much, and it's not a long list (it's never been!) but at least I still laugh a lot and I don't sweat the small stuff. I'm still drawing and writing. Still blogging and e-mailing. Talking to my Mum on the telephone every evening and hey -- I still like icecream!!

What a great gift to humankind icecream is! Yum. In answer to that question that used to be asked -- If you knew your world was going to end in 15 minutes (oh -- five, three, ten -- what matter? You get the point -- nuclear strike about to happen, the warning comes only moments before the end) what would you do in the brief time left to you? -- I've always answered, ICE CREAM!!!

*grin* And you? If you had 3/5/10/15 minutes left ... what would you do before the lights went out forever?