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A Skype of two cities

A trip from Singapore to Batam island today only takes an hour to 45 minutes via ferry. Back in my grandmother's younger days, it took her two weeks to make that journey from Batam to Singapore on a sail ship to marry my grandfather.

Communications between relatives on the Indonesian island was a rarity back then. Overseas call, if available, back then would have cost a bomb. If it was delivered by mail, it would take weeks, if not months, to arrive. Even today with cheaper IDD rates, telephone calls to Indonesia were limited as it could run up the phone bill.

But technology last night made it possible from my grandmother to, not only talk with her father's sister's son (aka cousin) in Jakarta, but see the faces of his family on screen.

"I can see you, but I cannot hold you," loosely translated
from Hokkien as my grandmother described the video call on Skype.

My grandfather recently celebrated his 90th birthday. My grandmother's cousin in Jarkata, however, wasn't able to make it to the celebration. 

Via Facebook messenger, I arranged with my granduncle's daughter for a Skype video conference call over the weekend. 

As it was a video conference call, my grandmother insisted that she had to dressed in something presentable for her cousin's relative to see. Home clothes was a no-no.

The call was not limited to the lingering thought of how much it would cost, but rather the battery life of the smartphone on the other end. Yes, my young aunty was using Skype via her mobile phone. 

With no lingering thought of the cost, both side conversed endlessly and updated each side of family news and events. Something that would have only be done via letters back in the hey days and family news would be months old when received. 

A simple wave of hands, seen on the screen at both ends, brought smiles and happiness to both sides of the family. 

At the end of the video conference call, my grandmother asked how much it cost. I replied saying that it was free and that was much to the surprise of my grandmother.

Something like this would have never been free in her days.


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