I love my mobile but there are days when I feel I was better off when I didn’t own the gadget.
My relationship with mobile phones is moderately recent. I got my first mobile phone when I moved to the Lady Irwin hostel in the January of 2003. Mobile phone was not all that common there but there were a handful of girls who carried a mobile. My father was extremely insistent that I maintain a mobile phone in the hostel. He is one of those persons who greatly values connectivity. He likes to be able to talk to family whenever he feels like it and so considers the mobile phone one of the best inventions of our times.
Though the hostel boasted of one incoming and two out going telephones, these were for all practical uses, useless!! (For a population of some 200 hundred girls, I don’t see how the management ever thought one incoming phone would be sufficient!)The incoming phone was forever engaged, thanks to the zillion boyfriends who would call and yap with one of the hostel residents for hours on end. This ensured that receiving a call on the hostel phone was next to impossible. If you decided to make a call yourself and approached either of the two outgoing phones, you were sure to be greeted with a cheerful message, hanging around the body of the yellow coloured rectangular box announcing “out of order”. So you would opt for the next easiest way to make a local call- walk to the PCO situated just outside the college. The only time you would get to make the walk to the PCO would be sometime in the evening after classes were over for the day, so naturally everyone else who had finished classes would also be present there. As a result, your idea of a brief 2 minute call would be stretched to a 20 minute-socializing- session plus a 2 minute call! On a good day you would get your turn at the phone within ten minutes but on a bad day, you could actually make a trip to the market be back in time for your turn!
Taking into consideration the practical difficulties in keeping in touch with me in the hostel, my dad bought me a cell phone and gave me instructions to “always have lots of money in the phone”. If you are wondering what that meant, let me explain. I had a pre-paid phone and he wanted me to have sufficient credit at all times so that I could call home/friends/ relatives whenever the desire or need arose. (I still have a pre-paid phone and from time to time I still get the same instructions! Somethings never change! :D) The handset was black,had basic features, was simple to use and if I remember correctly was produced by Siemens. I don’t know why I insisted on a Siemens handset but I was influenced by my roomie who kept extolling the benefits of a Siemens phone. Even though handsets by Siemens was and is practically unheard of, my particular piece served me well for three long years during which it survived ill-treatment in the form of being dropped on hard unyielding surfaces on regular intervals.
The next handset was purchased in the 1st year in TISS. The Siemens handset apparently couldn’t adapt to the humid weather of Mumbai and one fine day went blank. Attempts at reviving it met with failure so a new handset, this time a Nokia was purchased. This time the handset was a little more advanced and was a lovely soothing blue in colour. Having been purchased in Mumbai, it survived getting drenched in the rains remarkable well.
About a year back, I got bored of my blue phone. There was nothing wrong with it but I needed a change. Since I was a working woman by then, I gifted myself a new phone. We were back at the colour black but the phone got a little jazzier – the usual camera, radio, internet, blah , blah (the correct word is multimedia, someone told me). I spent two weeks figuring out all the features and came to the conclusion that I didn’t need half the stuff it offered!I was using this phone exactly like I used the other two- to make/receive calls and to send/receive smses!! Once in a while the camera and radio would be brought into action, but largely it was just calls and smses.
Since I changed my job, I have developed a mild animosity towards my phone. I now associate the phone with inconvenience.. and work. My phone no longer means calls from home and friends. It now means calls from the office when I am on casual or sick leave. It means unwanted interruption during a meal. It means being disturbed when I am in a deep meaningful conversation with someone. It means always being available to everybody all the time.Even when there exists a strong need to completely switch off and enjoy a break, there is no escaping the mobile phone. Often this always-available status awarded to me by my mobile is exhausting. I like the convenience and utility of the phone , but I would like it better if none of the “side-effects” existed! There are days when I truely think that life was easier and happier when we had fewer of these hi-tech gadgets cluttering our lives.