The reluctant convert

The reluctant convert

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I’m not really a cellphone person at all.. at least I thought I wasn’t.
Back in the nineties since when mobiles were launched I have doggedly stuck to my landline. Each time we changed homes and the husband suggested we do away with the landline I protested. Each time he offered to get me a mobile I balked. I didn’t need the interference, I proclaimed.

Mobile phone etiquette leaves a lot to be desired … they ring at the oddest hours.. during official meetings, cosy dinners, in theatres even in temples. And people leave mid-sentence, mid-prayer, mid-meal to answer the call of the call.

I dismissed it as a fad, a tashan. It will fizzle out just like the damp squib pager, I said. I waited patiently with my blinkers on. I had a long wait coming.
I moved to Pune and my new editor insisted I carry a cellphone. I cringed, then allowed the husband to get me one. I kept it but vowed not to use it. I’d give people only my office numbers. Each time someone asked, “What’s your mobile number?” I’d reply grandly (and a tad rudely), “I take official calls only at office.”
Then I missed a story because when the girl I was supposed to interview called me I was out on another assignment. Then I missed another one and another. The boss’ sour face made me start handing out my mobile number. It started to ring more and more frequently. “Oh okay,” I agreed, grudgingly. “It’s a bit useful”. Slowly, silently, insidiously it worked its black magic on me. I found myself reaching out for it in times of happiness and stress.

I got a promotion, it let me gloat in private.
The doctor said I was having twins, I couldn’t call my husband fast enough.
My aunt passed away it helped me lighten my grief.
My son fell ill it let me share my worries.
We moved to a different city it lessened the heartache of parting.
My daughter threw up in school it summoned me in a flash.

Yet I refused to acknowledge and accept its significance in my life.

Then two days back it died. I felt like my whole life had come to a standstill. I had to beg my husband to put an alarm on his phone for the next morning. We’ve long since done away with the alarm clock. I went to drop the kids to school and the bus seemed late. I had no way of telling the time. I haven’t used a watch since I got my mobile. “How will I call the driver,” I wondered. Thankfully the bus came and the kids went off to school.
My son had a cough and I worried as I left for the gym, “What if the school calls and I’m not home?” I ran home from the gym because I had no way of telling the maid, “I’m on my way.” Is it anyone’s birthday today, I wondered as I got home. The trustee mobile never fails to remind me. Oops gotto run now… almost forgot, time to pick up the kids.. no alarm today, damn I’m late.
Whew! Got there just as the bus was arriving.
I have a battery of friends who I catch up with every single day. The husband who shells out the bill will vouch for that. Come evening and the landline started to ring. Where are you? Where have you left your phone? Why is your phone switched off? Why aren’t you taking my call? I must have called you 200 times.
Even my friends and family are missing my mobile. When did it become so important? When did it progress from an unwanted accessory to an official necessity and then to a friend and confidant?

It’s supposed to come home today and I’m ready with my welcome song and aarti ki thali. It’s all about My Friends, My Life, My Phone.

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