Changing with the times?

This ex-editor lives on a diet of Kenrick Lamar songs for inspiration

Kamal Siddiqi August 21, 2017

This summer, my daughter introduced me to Kendrick Lamar. It was en education in itself. Not only did the lyrics make me wince, I wondered whether this was actually music. But then, it caught on. And I realised that amongst all the cursing, there was a message. A series of messages, actually.

I think one of the mistakes we make as parents is to try and stay ahead of the game when it comes to our children. One day, I was told matter-of-factly that most children were not on Facebook because their parents were. So much for parental control – and staying ahead.

There can be a great debate on what could be the best parenting techniques. I don’t want to get into that. I just try to go with the flow and figure out how to make the most of what is offered to me. Time is of essence. Muqabla Sakht Hai.

I continue to think about how the world is changing and how different it was when I was younger. That’s usually considered a bad idea but as a human, one cannot help but think of the bad times we lived in. Now we marvel at how Pakistan is changing as the millennials, those who became adults in the early 21st century, are now taking control and making decisions.

In my days, public transport in Pakistan was really bad. We had to make do. Today we have Uber and Careem. I read in the paper that Islamabad taxi drivers are protesting against web-based private taxi companies terming them a security threat. Like many parents, these taxi drivers seem to have lost the plot.

Technology is overtaking the state’s desire for control. Pakistan is becoming a different place. Services like Careem and Uber, which allow hundreds of men (and, hopefully, women soon) to provide a safe, cheap and clean alternative to the appalling public transport available, is fast becoming the preferred mode of transportation.

In Karachi, every day hundreds of women use these services knowing that not only are these safer than the average taxi or rickshaw but there is the added convenience of picking the passenger from their pre-determined point. Prices are fixed and any complaints that arise are dealt with swiftly. For those who argue that some of these companies exploit their drivers, one advice is to see how our conventional taxi and rickshaw system works.

Technology is challenging us. Imagine some decades back when we had to watch PTV or a VCR to see some good movies. Television programmes were strictly controlled. We could not watch what we wanted. The state decided what was best for us.

Television is another challenge today. The young do not like regular TV. They want to choose what they watch. Hence the popularity of NetFlix. They don’t want to watch in the family living room but on their phones. Live and adapt, I say.

The great hope was the telephone which helped us immensely with our social lives. I know many a couple who started their courtship through crossed lines or wrong calls. To own a phone meant years of waiting. Fax machines needed a separate licence! And then the phones would get “held-up” for days – with which our lives were also held hostage.

Now we live in the age of Whatsapp and YouTube. The younger generation spends more time texting on the phone than actually using it to talk. Again, we can argue about the pros and cons here but at the end of the day, it is for us to adopt.

Web-based services continue to expand as the younger generation starts to take control of their spending. Look how the food ordering business has picked up. From barely one such service ten years ago, today we see hundreds of food-order outlets in place. Every day you see one or the other rider whizzing past you at speeds that defy gravity only to make a few hundreds for hot food delivered to one’s home.

The web plays an important part not only in mode of service but also in choice as well. There are Facebook pages where thousands of people share their experiences on restaurants. It is said these comments make or break businesses. The habits of the new generation should be studied more carefully and this will help understand how doing business will be shaped in Pakistan in years to come. That’s my plan. Till then, this ex-editor lives on a diet of Kenrick Lamar songs for inspiration.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2017.

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