My wife has an old calendar she bought some 10 years ago. It’s called a “remembrance calendar” and it hangs at the back of our bedroom door. It’s not year specific—it has months and dates, but not days. Over the years, she has meticulously filled it with the birthdays and anniversaries of family and friends.
I store the same information in my MacBook, and also put alerts on my iPhone that I sync with the Mac. But by the time I react to the alerts, my wife has already sent out greetings.
I like technology. I have moved most of the basic information I require to run my day-to-day life on to my Mac: scanned copies of passports and election cards (you need printouts all the time), personal tax and bank information, and the password for our home Wi-Fi that I never seem to remember.
Then there is my music and memorabilia. I don’t know when was the last time I played a CD or switched on my old digital radio to listen to music. The Mac is our new entertainment hub. What I have yet to transfer is the hundreds of photographs that were taken when cameras still used film. These postcard-size prints are stacked in envelopes; some are turning sepia. The more recent ones, the ones taken with a digital camera, are all saved on the Mac.
I also have a Filofax in which I write down my appointments, important dates and phone numbers. I had always wanted a Filofax, a genuine Filofax and not an imitation. I used to envy the black leather one that my former boss had. He didn’t need it; he had many efficient assistants. We knew when he was going out of town because we could see his airline tickets jutting out of the pages of the Filofax that he would keep on his desk during our morning meetings.
But these organizers were not cheap: the one I have must have cost at least $150 (around Rs7,000). It’s a Montblanc Filofax that came as a gift (without the pen, though) some 15 years ago. In those days it was quite trendy to carry one. In a side pocket I keep a few precious mementos—pieces of paper with messages scribbled by our son when he was learning to write. Every year I pay $12 plus postage for refills—or depend on generous friends to bring a Christmas gift.
By appointment only: In this digital age, Filofaxes are surprisingly back in fashion.
So I was pleasantly surprised to read a report in The Telegraph, London, that Filofaxes are back in fashion. The company sold “about half a million of its products last year, far in excess of the 150,000 sold during its peak year in the 1980s”. It seems to have become a trendy accessory with women.
Personally, I would hate to lose my iPhone; but I would be devastated if I were to lose my Filofax, and not only because good ones are expensive and cost as much as a smartphone.
I recently bought two Moleskine notebooks (pronounced mol-a-skee-nah in Italian and mole-skeen in English). I couldn’t resist them because I love their classic design (have a look at the beautiful “Colour a Month Daily Diary Box Set”). Legend has it that Hemingway, Picasso and Oscar Wilde used these pocket-size books that were made by a bookbinder in Paris to scribble notes and draw sketches. I use mine to jot down random thoughts, make a note of books to buy and places to visit.
In 1997, an Italian company revived these notebooks under the brand name Moleskine, and in 10 years these little black books with an elastic band have acquired a cult following. Ten million Moleskines are produced every year.
So how do you explain the popularity of the Moleskine and Filofax in the age of the iPhone and Blackberry? I guess Moleskines are popular among people who love the feel of good stationery; they also have uses other than an organizer. And Filofaxes, as they say, “don’t run out of battery life.”
As an old hack from the pre-digital era, I am addicted to a diary and a notebook. Some old habits are hard to break.
Shekhar Bhatia is a former editor, Hindustan Times, a science buff and a geek at heart.
Write to Shekhar at firstname.lastname@example.org