In the year 1989, I travelled to the USA via Japan. My wife was also with me. The first leg of our journey was from Delhi to Tokyo where we stayed for three days. The next journey was from Tokyo to San Francisco on the western side of the USA. While travelling on this route, one gains time, which is quite an interesting experience. For example, if we leave Tokyo in the evening of Sunday, the arrival at San Francisco would be in the morning of Sunday. Thus, one can enjoy two Sundays in the same week. This was to happen with us also, as we were scheduled to leave Tokyo on a Sunday evening.
While we were waiting at the Tokyo airport, the flight got delayed by about an hour. During this waiting period, I felt like having a cup of coffee. In my pocket, there were still some yens left as I had converted most of the yens into dollars before leaving Japan. So I went to a coffee stall but my possession felt short by a few yens. At that time, one yen was equal to about ten paise in India. I thought that the vendor would oblige me by accepting few yens less and give a cup of coffee.
With this in mind, I approached the salesgirl, who could understand a bit of English. I tried to explain my problem to her and she could also understand. While she wanted to help me, she expressed her inability to do so because the machine would not operate even if the amount was only one yen less than the exact price. At that moment, I remembered the vendors of my own country, where the relationship between a buyer and seller existed on a direct basis and not through a machine. As a result, they could use their discretion in such matters.
The idea behind narrating this small incident is not to condemn mechanisation, but to show how this large-scale mechanisation has taken away the joy of human relationships. The world today is growing very fast but with this change, human relationships are also changing. In this process, it is difficult to say whether happiness is also increasing. Why difficult, it is certain that the happiness index of mankind has come down with the so-called development. It raises questions about where we are going wrong.
We are going wrong in the sense that in the modern age man himself has been reduced to a machine. He has been made to believe in certain norms of life, which dub him as modern and successful. Thus, success has become the sole goal of life. Whether it is accompanied by peace or not is not important. The whole turmoil of the modern world is on account of this madness. If we pause for a moment and analyse our life, there is every likelihood of finding a way to happiness. But most of us are too busy to do so and in the process miss the essence of life, which is joy and happiness. Let us not lose the human connection as we modernise ourselves. This is the main agenda before us in modern times. For this, we have to be our own masters and not slaves to machines.