far cry from the good old mail and the rituals of writing a letter with love and passion. Licking that stamp and carefully writing the recipient's address: Anywhere in Morocco. I remember the days when all one had to write on an envelop was the name of the recipient and the city where they lived. The letters passed their test of endurance as they made it to their destinations days or weeks later, all greasy and wrinkled yet the words they contained remained preserved and fresh forever.

E-mail, this amazing technology can only post written thoughts but ignores how emotions flow. Ironically, my computer cannot distinguish between a thought and "bits of data". A thought about a soft kiss on a tender lip, and an e-mail relating the thought of what a tender lip feels like in encrypted lingo.

The beauty of technology, until one stumbles into a binary dysfunction, and a desperate call to a help desk thousands of miles away, suggesting that it was the hard drive that crashed. Tripping over one of the dozen wires patching all the pieces together has its moments. The agony of technological proportions had began!

A help desk anywhere USA may suggest that the PC is no longer operational. Maybe it is the modem, maybe it is the file type. It is the zip drive. Oh, no! It is a virus. Possibly an outdated version of the software my computer has refused to work with any longer.

As we try to figure out our awkwardness, we become emotionally distressed, sink more money into the latest toys to keep up with a virtual future and dare to be left behind, and dare to be technologically dysfunctional.

Just yesterday, I was content with a bus trip which took fourteen hours on a 100 mile stretch. Today, I am losing patience with my 56K modem.

And Mozilla, the mail junky who keeps greeting me day in and day out! What a friendly guy! I am looking forward to meeting that virtual hero someday. The mouse I have come to love and hold in the palm of my hand for hours, for without it, my life on the Information Highway would be hell.

Welcome to the age of information! Faster in speed and colder in emotions, in another dimension. So much for the programming blues, for it does not sing my tunes, nor does it know my feelings, and I am still contemplating to dust off my parchment, writing tablet, shake the old bottle of ink, and write the old nostalgic days with a plume and a burning desire.

I can easily identify with that medium and pull the plug on the mountains of data bits I have to unravel. All my recipients will still be the moon and the stars.

Photo by James Miller, Clemson University

I yawned in despair, from a past which wrapped wrinkles around my eyes, and sewn sprinkles of gray on my hair. The years I spent far away from home and my loved ones, I now have no choice but to turn to the future. I thought I would always return and find things the same way I had left them, unchanged! Thinking not knowing that things change just as I keep buying new modems every three to four months.

And my wrinkles continue to become obvious. Still hoped someday when I returned to Morocco, that every smile would be frozen in time as I left it! Every life is spared from the grinding demands of high technology which brings people closer on the surface, as they grow farther physically and emotionally.

The last time I went back to Morocco, where I spent my childhood. I searched for the same bus I took some 16 years ago, only to find that it no longer has a luggage rack to carry sheep, goats, roosters and large beasts.

I discovered that the journey between Ouarzazate and Zagora had shrunk to less than three hours in an air-conditioned bus. Feature movies along the journey, and cold sodas from a refrigerator on board for travelers to sip, enjoy, and quench their thirst.

I was overcome with a terrible sens of loss as I went back to meet past days of happiness. I had no choice but to silently watch Alien3, and Terminator X for the first time as the bus was cruising through one of the most beautiful scenic routes in the world. Yes, that remote part of the world I call home.

People have picked up a fast pace! Talking on cellular phones, and checking their pagers for messages, just as I had become accustomed to checking my e-mail every morning, and every night.

I also realized that, soon, I would no longer have to take the bus, and my flight by airplane will only take 10 minutes. The new comers are being entertained by this amazing world of technology. And they seem to have forgotten the past with its beauty and its simplicity in such a short time.

Someday, I will write the story of how much technology has changed our lives with a golden cursor. I will have to keep saving it in new software versions every so often, for my children and grand children, so when they visit home, they will be able to catch a glimpse of it, and reflect up on what my world was like then, and what it has become now.


Said Leghlid 1998




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