February 24, 2020
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Meet Me In 2029

Here’s the Future Sid, chewing for us all that’s now brewing in the 2019 petridish

Meet Me In 2029
Meet Me In 2029

Day 133: 2029. The mechanicals switch from night to day at a preset time, the automatic blinds roll up. The May sun struggles in, distilled tepid. The triple-glazed French windows dim any distress to the condo’s energy-efficient insulation. It’s a freeform smart home with technology woven throughout, allowing Sid to connect, control and interface with his dwellings. “Wake Up, Siddy,” Lucy purrs. He pulls his chromed arm out of his petite partner’s embrace and disengages her ‘love mode’. Lucy—Luca, if you may—puckers up for the recharging dock. Sid slides out, reluctantly. The DIY Ikea bed is so snug, it self-adjusts to minimise pressure points and optimise comfort. He puts on the VR glasses and thought-activates Siri. A jealous Alexa, silent until then, auto-plays his nostalgic Richard Clayderman.

Sid is nursing a headache; the complimentary side-shoot of an overdose of vap­ourised alcohol and a turbo-charged Lucy. The chip implanted in his cortex has cured his Tourette’s, musical hallucinations and anxiety disorders, but his hangovers still measure up to the rum-cola kicks from his IIT-Bombay hostel. The built-in scatologist in his sensor-outfitted toilet, which scans for perilous pathogens and treacherous toxins, showed inconsistencies inimical to his health. But the shower panel scanner cleared his heart, brain and other vitals of any abnormal signs. Somebody has hacked his potty, pee and poo!

Will we uphold the status quo in 2029? Or, will it be a radically different life that we have not imagined yet?

The thought-processing Mr Jeeves, the butler-bot, senses his irritation and sets aside the regular breakfast of vitamin supplements, Soylent meal-replacement milkshake and a bar of Nootrobox chewable coffee. The AI home-help brings him the cutting chai, maska pao—ordered fresh by his refrigerator/pantry that auto-replenishes from a chain of retailers. He is a sucker for the old world Irani delight and it is delivered hot by a drone from MaaKeHaathKaKhanewallah, a dirigible takeaway for Indian ­digital overlords populating Silicon Valley.

Well tried, Mr Jeeves. But the mood-lifting bun didn’t work. Sid is angry. Why did the stupid bot relay the health readings to mom in Coimbatore? And lo, the holographic messenger springs to life and his mother lectures him about the good ol’ days when people ate fresh and organic, not lab-meat burgers and dehydrated, genetically modified lettuces. Sid promises to eat more from the aquaponic garden she had set up in his greenhouse balcony. She has been skittish since the ingestible medical data collector detected the breast cancer gene BRCA1 and she decided a double mastectomy like Angelina Jolie (Who? Arrey yaar, Aaradhya’s mom on Netflix!). Sid tries to calm her; organs are now reconstructed from stem cells. But stepney breasts and limbs are off-limits for skint people from third world cubbyhole colonies.

Sid saves for her implant, working past the point of exhaustion, slaving over a project on contour-crafting tech for swarm-bots to build housing in Mars. His on-demand driverless electric car waits to take him to the Hyperloop station en route to office. But he can’t wait to show mom the bionic brain-machine prosthetics he 3D-printed at home. It’s for his right arm, lost when he was transiting through the anarchy of Delhi last autumn for a Himalayan family shindig. A drunken yob in an SUV fishtailed into the lane for self-driven taxi pods. The culprit escaped as secu­rity drones were busy dropping Diwali fireworks over Ramlila Maidan, but the cops’ 3D-printed ‘mugshot-shapies’ produced from the car owner’s DNA caught up with him.

Sid lives in a super-connected, ultra-tech world of apps and alg­orithms. His father was aware of these technologies back in 2019, having heard the buzz in the news. He knew, if he leapfrogged ahead ten years, his son will be living a radically different life that will challenge social structures and existing systems, and rewrite the rules for relationships. Back in Sid’s California pad, mom winks a “who she”, having noticed the outline of a supine buxom form under the sheets. “Lucy,” he replies. “Yes, darling!” his voice arouses the humanoid. It rises, naked and inviting. The 3D hologram vanishes instantly.

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