Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pining for the good old days

I know, it's sad. Yesterday as I was sitting round with some friends, lamenting all the wrong numbers we get on the phone, and the lack of power to do email etc, we got to thinking about how it was in the good old days. I bet there's a few of you who are wondering what I'm talking about.
In recent bygone days, you made a plan to meet someone in say 2 months time, at 3pm on Thursday the 26th, out the front of the such and such shop or restaurant. There was no way you could contact this person in the meantime, as you were both travelling, so you just had to make every effort to get there! Of course, there was no internet, no mobile phones, no ATM and not too many guide books either. So what if you didn't make it? Well, you maybe never saw each other again! So many lost romantic opportunities.
In those days you didn't need electricity to write to people: a pen and a postcard (or even more old school, an aerogramme) was all you needed. You could do it anywhere - at a bus stop, on a train, in a cafe. And the lucky recipient was always excited to find a picture postcard in their mailbox.
If you wanted to know what was going on with people back home, you had to hope that there would be a letter for you from Mum in the Poste Restante box at the main GPO wherever you were. This time consuming exercise involved going to the post office, joining what was nearly always a long queue, and trying to get someone who didn't really read or write your language to find a letter for you in a box of hundreds which were hardly ever properly sorted. But at least you made new friends in the process.
And now to money. Before you left home, you bought up lots of Travellers Cheques. These were guaranteed to not be forged if stolen, as you always had to sign them once when you picked them up, and then again in front of the cashier, with your passport as ID. If you were really lucky and ha an Amex card and a cheque book (a what?) you could go to the local Amex office once every 3 weeks and get yourself $1000. Which went a long way back in the late 80's.
So now I complain that the ATM doesn't work because there is no power, the internet doesn't work cos there is no power, and I keep getting random wrong number calls at 5 am from people I don't know.
Is travelling easier or better now than it was 30 years ago? I can't really answer that but I know it is still the most enjoyable way I can spend my time.

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