My 12-year-old daughter walks up to me and with an innocent look informs me that she went to her friend’s place and found out that the family is so poor that they do not even have an iPad.

To my bewildered look, she went on to further add that they live in utmost poverty, as all the rooms in their house are devoid of split unit air conditioners.

Shaken, I wondered if it is all about the generation gap or something more haunting, as the upbringing of one’s children. I tend to believe in the later for blaming it on the generation gap is the easy way out. And when finally she says, “papa, thank God, we are not poor”, I look at my inner poverty that is far more stained and painful.

Her words took me back to a time and age that we have, ironically, lost long time back. Life was simple and beautiful; unlike the one we live in today, where we believe that the most beautiful things are always the most lavish, extravagant and exotic.

When you think of it, it is the simplest things that make life beautiful. In the end, it is the small and simple things we remember, and the little perfections and beautiful imperfections that sum up our life.

I was born at a time when the villages lacked electricity. The refuge from the heat was sought by fortunate people like us through the hanging of a large thick cloth from the ceiling with a rope attached to it that was pulled and released by the servant all night, thus making it swing and produce air. It was simple, but an effective way to bring down the room temperature.

Later with the pedestal fans coming to the scene, we used to lay down charpoys (a bed consisting of a frame strung with tapes or light rope) in line on the rooftop with a single fan placed on the one end. Machar danis (mosquito nets) covered individual charpoys. The sleep was deep and perfect; unlike the one we achieve through the artificial use of air conditioners in the present age. Ask your grandparents, if you doubt.

The offices were simple, but the working was perfect. Early in the morning, the peon used to collect thorns from the plants, which were to be used by my father, who was a Government Servant (not a private servant as is the case with our present bureaucracy), as common pins. A qalam (pen or pencil) and a dawaat (ink pot) were used to write.

Instead of carpet, his room was filled with sand that was watered after every few hours, thus keeping the room temperature under check. The construction, owing to the British acumen, was such that all the building architectures were surrounded by a line of trees with roof heights being double than the ones we have now. A roshandan (ventilating window located high on a room's walls or top of windows) provided the natural ventilation mechanism. Tapered shades on all the windows further added to the coolness of the room.

Air conditioners came much later and not everyone could afford to buy them. Those who could afford to buy them (just one piece) used it for a few hours at night or midday in one room. Parents on the bed and children on the mattresses was not only an economical way of living, but provided a perfect surrounding to foster family bonds; whereas, the parents were the centre of this educational, social and moral compass imparting values in a much more effective way.

Systematically, over a period of time, these sacred locations or institutions have silently dissolved. Even if now our families are sitting together, most of the communication is vertical aimed at the television screens, with no horizontal bondages between people talking to each other. We somehow seem to have lost it all.

Looking back at how we were raised and the way we are nurturing our present lot, our horrifying and pathetic state of perpetual degradation at every level becomes evident. Are we the parents to look up to or the ones to be despised?

Looking inwards, our internal bankruptcy stands out. Now when my child looks into my eyes defining and gagging the level of poverty through the yardstick of iPods’ or the number of air conditioners installed, my eyes get wet drowning with them a string of endless memories fading away with the passage of time till swallowed by the gushing winds of changing dimensions.

The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He is life member of the Pakistan  Engineering Council and senior international editor for IT Insight Magazine. He has authored  two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living In The Grave and several research papers.