Sherlock Holmes’s hobby would not be playing violin if he were from the 15th century – before violin was invented. He would not smoke pipes either; cigar would be his closest choice, perhaps. Geoffrey Chaucer forgot to include technology in his list of things but that didn’t wait to be included in the list of others’ over time. Hobbies change like apps that often take on newer versions. Even the word ‘hobbyhorse’ has evolved into ‘hobby.’ People’s hobbies change with the time, reshaping them, their preferences and even an entire culture.
Shahin Sultana, a 49-year-old housewife from Dhaka’s Bailey Road area, reminisces of her 20s. She used to write song lyrics in her diary. Customising her sarees and her daughters’ dresses with embroidery and beads was her favourite hobby too. Now she has a sewing machine. She is more into tailoring dresses. She also enjoys experimenting with recipes for her family.
“I couldn’t do it before as much as I do now. A lot of the ingredients weren’t widely available back then. Only a few grocery ships were here then.”
However, her 27-year-old daughter Misba’s hobby is not cooking or embroidery. She likes drinking coffee, reading books, and trying countless new skills. She said, “Cooking is a chore I would stop doing were I not hungry.”
Meanwhile, she has a hobby that has been her constant since childhood - doodling almost every day. The only thing that has now changed in doodling is she uses digital mediums more than traditional ones.
Once broadcast channels were more popular than Netflix and they are perhaps still so, but to a different group of people. The newer generation spends time, bending it to their flexibility, unlike the elders who used to bend themselves to adapt to the timing of popular Bangla drama serial Aj Robibar. Millennials and centennials have grown up with more realistic views and creativity.
The youths of Bangladesh show interest in retro but technologically updated things. While music is the first choice for most of them, a vast majority of youths turn to traditional arts as well. Embroidery, makeup, and even cooking and baking are now popular and booming with the trend of digital content creation. Such burst of hobbies proves the youths to be creatively more intelligent than ever before.
Nowadays, digital content creation, or maintaining a blog, is not only a hobby today but also to a number of youths a requirement for their professional buildup. Even though Misba doodles everyday as a hobby, she often uses it to earn as well. “Creativity requires money. So I might as well use my creativity as an investment,” she explains.
Hobbies are changing, mainly thanks to the groundbreaking growth of technology. Not many elders like gaming, digital content creation or even music and art. Even ten years ago, people had hobbies that required no advanced electronics. They used to collect stamps, read hardcovers, art and crafts, watch TV, or play indoor and outdoor games. But now it is different — people now spend time on social media, read e-books of second language, watch netflix, video gaming, or creat art with countless mediums.
People now seek a relief while living a hectic fast-moving life nowadays. As for young children, the pandemic has forced them to live mostly indoors instead of going to cram schools, and they get much time to practice their hobbies. Hobbies serve them therapeutically and sometimes professionally.
While Covid-19 has brought a disaster, the lockdown triggered by it seems to have refreshed the minds of hobbyist youths just as the air of Dhaka. And those who cannot practice their hobbies are more prone to mental health issues and even violence —Perhaps Zeus has to grow an auspicious hobby for them to keep their health and save them another disaster.
Mehenaz Sultana is a student of English at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.