Smart politicians. Smart bureaucrats. Smart managers. Smart journalists. Smart soldiers. Smart bloggers. Smart authors. Smart travelers. Smart housewives. Smart shoppers. Smart vendors. Smart drivers. Smart cyclists. Smart walkers. Smart parents. Smart enemies. Smart speakers. Smart beggars. Smart pedestrians. The truth is that there is no end to who or what aspires to get tagged with the adjective ‘smart’. But despite all the rush and all the long queues, smart watches, smart fitness bands, smart speakers, smart security cameras and smart home devices have managed to stay ahead. This doesn’t mean, however, that characters of all kinds from both the real and the imaginary world have no right to make smart comments on smart devices… so let us see what some of these smart characters have to share.

Chacha Chaudhari

‘Only brain and brawn don’t succeed these days, Sabu. We need a smart watch too,’ said chacha to Sabu. I just stood there with them and decided to listen to their conversation.

Sabu was confused but managed to ask, ‘Your command is what I obey. Tell me, how many do I order from Flipkart?’

‘Wait, wait, there is no hurry, Sabu. You need to ask why,’ admonished Chacha.

‘Why?’ said Sabu, ‘Why do we need a smart watch?’

‘Smart watch ka dimaag computer se bhi tez chalta hai. We can send and read messages without pulling out our smartphones,’ smiled chacha.

Sabu considered this and other details that chacha described and concluded, ‘And we can confuse our enemies by placing a wrong identity on our watch face. So when the enemy asks if I am Sabu I can show him my watch that says Dharmender. Ha! Ha!’

Chacha smiled because he knew that smartness wasn’t Sabu’s strong point but a smart wearable was something that could possibly inspire him to think better… he guessed that even Bini Chachi and Rocket would appreciate one.

The next comic hero that I came across soon enough was Shaktimaan.


‘Adbhut, Adamya Sahas ki Paribhasha hoon!’ shouted Shaktimaan as he rushed out of a burning house and saved a few lives. I rushed to him and asked, ‘What makes you so super smart, Shaktimaan?’

Our national comic hero, our own ass-kicking, villain-incinerating, criminal-whupping superhero with a paunch smiled and replied, ‘Smart camera. Bhai, I get all my information through strategically placed smart cameras that tell me everything about everything and everything about everyone.’

‘That’s smart,’ I said.

‘Yes, it has to be,’ said Shaktimaan, ‘and my smart cameras send me smart messages that my smart brain understands and then I take smart actions that smart cartoonists note and share with you all.’ Well, it was so nice of Shaktimaan to share all credit of his exploits with smart cameras because, after all, security of a city… no, a nation… depends on the dependability of smart cameras.

I was convinced now that our desi heros from the toon world were getting smarter even without a smart chip embedded in their bodies and so I decided to step out into the real world and see what a writer of romantic and social fiction had to say about smart devices. I drove straight to meet CB.

Chetan Bhagat

What my favourite characters say about smart technology. #GetFitWithFlipkart #SmartHomeRevolution

What my favourite characters say about smart technology. #GetFitWithFlipkart #SmartHomeRevolution

My meeting with CB was exciting because to every question, he just pointed to one of his quotes on his laptop screen… and I had to guess its relationship with my question.

Me: We have all begun loving smart devices. Any comments?

CB: A wise man can be a fool in love. CB then waved me to have patience and typed another quote: Sometimes when nobody is by your side, you have to become your own cheering squad.

Me: Wow! That is deep, CB. What is your opinion about smart watches?

CB: When a woman comes into your life, things organize themselves.

Me: I think I understand what you mean. Rather neat of you to connect smartness with women. No wonder you sell so many copies of every book that you write.

CB: Don’t be serious, be sincere.

Me: Smart homes are what every Indian now aspires to have. You know, one where the lights come on at a command, where the AC is switched on even before you reach home. Where…

CB again waved me to stop and indicated that he had understood my question. He then did some rapid punching on his laptop and showed me not one but two quotes one after the other.

CB: The real middle class India that has always been looking for a voice that is its very own. I write about it because I belong to it.

CB: I think original voices get noticed. But most importantly, I think you should have a story to tell.

Me: Any idea why smart homes are getting so much attention?

CB: I myself don’t know what makes my books work. I enter a bookstore and I’m frankly overwhelmed by the number of books in most of them, and I know people are buying mine.

Me: Absolutely charming! Any brands that you will recommend, CB?

CB: When we choose a mobile network, do we check whether Airtel or Vodafone belong to a particular caste? No, we simply choose the provider based on the best value or service. Then why do we vote for somebody simply because he belongs to the same caste as us?

Me: I thought you’d say this. Obviously, none of the smart home brands are sponsoring your books. Could you at least tell me how practical is it to shift from one brand to another in case a person isn’t happy with its smart functioning?

CB: Why should any guy want to be only friends with a girl? It’s like agreeing to be near a chocolate cake and never eat it. It’s like sitting in a racing car but not driving it.

Me: Got it! You’re brilliant, CB, simply unbeatable.

CB: I am human, I am not perfect. Although, I make mistakes all the time.

Me: Yes, of course. What do you have to say about the relationship of mankind with evolving technology?

CB: In a relationship there are always two types of persons: one weaker and the other stronger. It is never easier to live being the weaker one!

I thought I had got almost all the answers I was looking for and so before leaving, I asked: Why is it that some people will always talk ill of technology? Is it some form of fear? Phobia?

CB: When you fly high people will throw stones at you. Don’t look down. Just fly higher so the stones won’t reach you.

Me: Wow! And thanks, CB.

I was seriously thinking of going to a few others but then this quality interview with CB had given me more than I thought I’d get. The truth is that technology and the way smartness is getting woven around it is what the world needs. The future depends on the speed with which we adopt technology and the also the speed with which we encourage it to develop further. For now, what we have is quite a handful because even this is capable of making a few of us as nervous as the one’s that Alvin Toffler indicated to in his book ‘Future Shock’ when he wrote: ‘Future shock is the shattering disorientation brought about by a pre-mature arrival of the future.’

There is no future shock as of now… so sit back and enjoy the smartness that is being offered.


Note: The sketch in this post is done by Arvind Passey.



Arvind Passey
06 January 2019