Friday, December 01, 2023 | Jumada al-ula 16, 1445 H
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Why I am nostalgic about my typewriter

The portable Remington typewriter was always my constant companion! My journalistic foray began on this machine. I yearn to use it again, but cannot. I remember having filed my reports and typed all of them on this manual machine

It’s delightful to find something that is believed to be lost! It provides you joy again when you hand on something that is forgotten. And it will be a bonus if you happen to spot a missing item while searching for something else.

I was lucky enough to “discover” a forgotten treasure of mine last week while rearranging and cleaning our households. I came across a dusty box hidden among the “hand-me-downs” in the store room. In fact, I must have encountered it dozens of times but couldn’t figure it out because of the decades-old dirt on it.

It was my old portable Remington typewriter with which I had very specific and cherished memories as it was part of my life till the mid-90s. When I opened the box I could still smell the ink and machine oil. It reminded me of its click-clack, click-clack and ding sounds in those years!

I remember how the keys under my eager fingers were, tapping out words and paragraphs while learning typing in an institute in the 80s. At those times, learners had to type all styles of letters and had speed tests with time deducted for errors. I still remember the unforgettable phrase "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" to be typed by learners.

Moreover, whenever typing mistakes were made in those days, the solution was either to change to a new piece of paper or use "Blanko liquid" to erase and to dry up the liquid before typing. Making a single mistake would mean that the work needs to be redone with a high cost for bond papers.

If these are about typing, I have more nostalgic memories of my Remington typewriter. My journalistic foray began on this machine. Those were the days of manual mechanical typewriters. As knowledge of typing was a mandatory criterion to become a journalism aspirant in those days, we had to go through this laborious task.

My portable Remington typewriter was always my constant companion. I yearn to use it again, but cannot. I remember having filed my reports and typed all of them on this typewriter. I often had to cut my text to reduce the workload with a self-claimed compromise on details.

But the truth is, it never compromised on the quality. It never hurts as well. At the same time typing on manual typewriters made it pleasurable, that too with coffee side by side.

You know journalism has changed since the days of the typewriter. With the advent of computers and other typing gadgets, the once ubiquitous typewriters are a rare sight these days. It was in 1992 when I last used a typewriter.

During those days, every story, even a news story, except for those political outcries, was investigative in nature. Because you had to go out there, find it and pursue it. Telephones were scarce so you had to go and search out where the sources were, and actually talk to them. Press releases were not common in those days. There were no ‘newsroom journalists’ then, as are so common these days.

I still remember when the first computers were introduced into the Free Press Journal newsroom in 1986, but before that, we all had to use typewriters. On a good newsy day, I remember having heard the thunder of more than a dozen typewriters going at full speed as reporters tried to beat the evening deadlines.

Although I have sentimental and nostalgic memories of manual mechanical typewriters in the past, I realise that there is no way for anyone to return to using these antique typewriters. Time has changed. Thanks to the invention of computers.

However, the lessons we have learnt using old-day typewriters are as useful and applicable as using computers on keyboards.

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