“What would our lives be like without mobile phones?” is a question we should all ask ourselves. Now, now, ye naysayer in the back who thinks our lives would be better off. That we might spend more time talking deeply to loved ones and friends. That we might actually be able to hear bird song and not the Crazy Frog ring tone. Waiting time at doctor’s clinics would be severely reduced. That the man over there with the singed phallus may still have a chance to bear children and sow wild oats, instead of being confined to a life of peeing through a tube just because some asshole banker with Blackberry Thumb had to see the doctor first. Naysayer you are in a minority and if you continue you to speak I shall lock you in a room filled with cell phones constantly going off with Crazy Frog as their assigned ring tones. Thought that would shut u up (did you all notice my clever use of txt spk? There! I did it agn )
Now back to the question “What would our lives be like without mobile phones?” Think of the cottage industries it has helped birth and nourish – the animal ring tone industry, the amateur 10 second sex film to be sent out via MMS industry (a boon to men who are always in a hurry), the novelty dangly bits that hang off phones and get caught in awkward places industry (that boosted the flagging fortunes of Hello Kitty the mouthless feline (branded as Hello Kutty in Kerala and Tamil Nadu)). Millions of people and one very large, scary, mouthless cat (gives a new understanding of the term Vaayilladha Jeevan) have prayer alters to this man made marvel which they pay obeisance to every day.
But forget others. Think of how this god send has enriched your own individual life. Remember the time before cell phones? When you were twenty minutes late for Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke and your friends couldn’t be bothered to wait for you and you had to go home and take off the brand new dress you’d bought just for the film? DO YOU? Well now no more of that. We can arrive as fashionably late as we please, once the commercials for Gangar Opticians and Poonamallee Pizza Palace are well over. We can call our friends who we know never switch their phones off and demand they come outside with your ticket. And then buy you an extra large bucket of butter popcorn. Not that they need a cell phone for that.
Think of the precious time you have saved thanks to your cell phone. No more wandering through the Nagpada looking for Agripada. No more standing in the rain looking for No 34, Harley Road. No more trying to ask the Marathi speaking man at Kolivada the way to Basilica. Now when we are lost we just call friends up and say ‘I am here next to the Marathi speaking gentleman at Kolivada. Come pick me up.’ And then you hand the phone over to the aforementioned gentleman and all is well.
Think of all those dates from hell. Blind dates, first dates and oh god this is so the last date. Not so long ago, we had to suffer till the very end because we couldn’t think of a convincing excuse. Or because the dessert menu looked wonderful. We had to sit through nearly two hours of lettuce in teeth, body odour or even worse listening to the other person go on about their dream Mastermind subject – Cindy Lauper 1985-1986. Now, through the marvel of science we have a ready made escape route. A friend calls in the middle of your meal, you drop your fork, you shriek, it’s an emergency you tell your date – my best friend’s dog/cat/goldfish just died. Suzy was a wonderful pet. You are comforted. You call the waiter and ask him to pack some tiramisu in a doggy bag and you leave. (All this of course we only see in movies. I don’t know if this works in real life, but hey it’s worth a shot. Oh, and don’t call the friend who missed the trailers at the movies because you were late. Chances are she ain’t ever calling you back)
But most of all, cell phones keep our hands busy. They make us look busy. See that suit over there on platform two; brow furrowed as he stares at the screen of his new Blackberry? That isn’t some important e-mail from work. It’s either porn, Bricks or he’s trying to change the language setting from Mandarin back to English (another cell phone use – great way to annoy your colleagues.)
In my own life, this is the ultimate cell phone use. A deep rooted paranoia forces me to reach any appointment a good half our early. So after one has window shopped (and torn themselves away from the temptation that is the Mango cashmere coat), had a cup of coffee and read some of the book that looked great in the library but that you now cannot understand a word of - what does one do? One pretends to make phone calls. Send random text messages to friends. Penny pinchers can pretend to send random text messages to friends. The truly sad and pathetic can send random text messages to themselves. The chances of anyone pitying you as they pass by is minimal. Unless it’s me of course. I know what you’re really up to.
So people. Embrace your cell phones. Put away those elephant headed gods and laughing Buddhas you pray to. The Cell Phone is our new Saviour. It entertains us, connects us, challenges us (Where can I learn Mandarin?). It is a mysterious, divine presence in our lives that –
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