My Mobile Journey

“‘I need a mobile phone,” I repeated for the third time to the L&M.

He was fiddling with his new gadget, the size of a decent sized brick and trying to punch some numbers on it. It was the initial days of the advent of the mobile phones in India and he had got one – a Siemens S3 model, if I remember right. Cost a packet too. One of the brats can confirm, knowing the L&M’s notorious memory.It cost an arm — no make it two arms and a leg – to make even local calls.

So his next question was logical: “Why do you need one?”

I found that one too absurd to merit a reply. Why didn’t I need one? I was a woman on the go – to the market, to the bank, to the temple, to the library, to a friend’s — and I needed to keep in touch, didn’t I? What if one of the brats wanted desperately to contact me? (‘Ma, where is my white T shirt?’) or the L&M might need to give some urgent instruction? (‘I have an upset tummy and will only eat khichdi tonight.’) Or what if my best friend had something of earthshaking importance to tell me? (‘There is a sale at Fabindia. Where are you?’)

I need not have worried though. The L&M is one of those guys who loves changing gadgets and appliances. It is like this. If he looks contemplatively at any one of the above said things for more than half a minute, one can safely assume that its days were numbered – in single digits. It could be any white good which normally has a decent life span.

And everyone knows that technical gizmos become obsolete faster than you can say ‘obsolete.’ True to his nature, I caught the L&M staring at his first mobile phone reflectively one day. I did a handstand and a cartwheel for good measure in the next room. I was going to get it now!

Sure enough, he spotted something smaller and sleeker and the brick found its way to me. Hand-me-down, but what the hell!

If looks could kill, my handset would have done it any day! It resembled the cordless handsets that we see today, complete with a small antenna and all. In fact, a slightly longer antenna would have made me look like a policewoman in plainclothes carrying a walkie-talkie! Its thickness was how much the size of many of the handsets of today– about two inches! The menu functions were a pain – you had to go through so much garbage before you reached what you wanted, for instance, to type a message. One thing was certain: even if its looks didn’t kill, it could still have done the job– with its sheer weight!

Still I carried it everywhere with me, my already heavy handbag weighing even more with the handset! In those initial days of the mobile phone not many people had one and so every time I took it out, (mostly to admire it and show it off than actually making or receiving a call), I had several bystanders gazing enviously at me. The problem was, I didn’t have too many contacts to send SMS to and so ended up sending them to the L&M. Never mind that I had to press the keys a zillion times to type a simple message, since predictable text had not made its debut.

So while I still bravely lugged my brick around using it more than before since the rates had reduced slightly, newer models flooded the market at a mindboggling rate. The yuppies and puppies were holding their palms against their ears and whispering sweet-nothings into their tiny handsets and here I was pulling out the brick and shouting into it (the battery probably had weakened). From eliciting envious looks I had been reduced to drawing amused and sometimes irritated glances from the above said audience.

The next handset was slightly smaller but still not so sleek. But at the rate new models kept flooding the market, I soon realised that barring the L&M going crazy and changing his handset every month, I would always be a several steps behind in the world of the Ys and Ps.

Still I managed to find new uses for the handset. And one of the things I discovered was games. Not for me the frenetic zapping and annihilating of sundry creatures. I loved the languorous ‘snake’ – still do in fact. I don’t believe in engaging all my digits maniacally in destroying things. Instead I use just the left thumb to make the snake eat its food languidly. It almost became a pet – I would suddenly wake up at night thinking that my snake must be hungry and start feeding it. It also made me feel very protective to prevent it from bumping into its own tail. The clicks would wake up the L&M and he would demand that I stop that very instant. Height of heartlessness, I tell you.

I think it is a very healthy game, one that fosters the nurturing instinct in the player. I can’t tell you what satisfaction it gives me to see the snake grow, much like I used to love watching the brats eat and grow into strapping young lads.

Coming back to the story, over the years the L&M also lost his penchant for new phones and so by inference I am stuck with an old handset.

Recently when the younger one saw me with an old handset, he decided to buy me a new one with many new features. He asked me my preference and I said, “I need Snake.”

“What?” he said, unable to believe that his old woman had finally flipped her lid. The salesman and the brat tried their best to convince me of the features of each funky new model. A desperate brat even tried to overshoot his budget and get me a one-touch phone. But I stood my ground. In disgust he had to hunt for the only model of Nokia that still had the game! And I am now happily feeding my pet all the food it wants, day or night!

I am told that one can download games in the latest phones. I wonder if the much praised OneTouch Net phone from Tata DOCOMO has this facility. Once I am satisfied that I can download the latest in Snake, I can start plotting of ways to make the L&M get interested in it.

I know you are thinking that it might be forever before I get it, considering it is so good. Pssst, let me tell you a secret about the L&M. He loves to own new mobile handsets but uses the same basic features that were there in his first Siemens! I am banking on his getting frustrated by its smartness.

And guess what I would do then? Well, I would offer to ‘take it off his hands!’ Ingenious, aren’t I?

Don’t go revealing my plan to him, will you, now?

57 comments

  1. I cannot handle smartphones..I have this habit of dropping phones from hand so much that the way my mobiles can get damaged this way, I will soon be bankrupt..and atleast right now i have to buy my own phones. So the old sturdy nokia it is for me..

    Awesome post as always 🙂

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    1. Ah, speaking of sturdy Nokia phones, do you also play Snake on it? I think that the old models are the only ones that have the classic form of Snake.

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  2. Oh ya…I can totally understand how you must have felt…:) and why do u doubt if it’s a good idea? It is going to be a big hit. No second thoughts….just go ahead it and hunt for a good publisher..ane let me know when it is printed. I would love to buy and keep it…:) you should make big money and I hope it will be useful for the retirement….am I thinking too far…heheh….commerce student that I am!

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  3. Tears filled my eyes with laughing. I didn’t laugh so much in days or months rather. I am spreading your blog at work and people are addicted…did you know you could be so contagious? This is going to be my medicine in times of gloom.

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    1. I am so glad the posts are making you feel good, though they made me mad as hell when they actually happened 🙂 I am planning to compile them all in a book form. Do you think it is a good idea?

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  4. Loved this :)) Apart from being fun the USP of your write ups is your refreshing honest & simple attitude…wo! way to go Snakes & all 🙂

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    1. Welcome here Maitreyee. Thanks for giving my blog market value by telling me its USP 😀 I love writing about everyday stuff with which anyone can identify. Glad you like it.

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  5. […] worried about not being able to contact her uncle. My battery of my cell phone had just croaked; she didn’t have one.  We talked about the seminar, about the interesting papers […]

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  6. quite devious. for the record snake is available for download. am quite sure I saw it on the Nokia Ovi application store.

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    1. Yeah. My older son showed me some snakes which he downloaded from the net on his one touch phone but they lacked the ‘character’ of the classic snake! Waiting for someone to come up with a downloadable and lovable snake 😀 😀

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  7. Simply awesome post!! 🙂
    Loved it and can empathize!! 😀
    Happy plotting and happy petting with the snake!! 😀

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    1. Welcome here and thanks for the comment Shilpa.

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  8. LOL 😀 awesome post. I love the personal touch. Soon we will all graduate to the latest in smart technology and move ahead. My hubby still feels I should not have cell phone. It is a useless luxury he says.
    Who cares I dream on to buy the latest and master it too.
    Best wishes

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    1. That’s the spirit! go ahead and indulge your whim. Actually it is not a whim anymore, but a need and a prolific blogger like you definitely needs one to keep abreast of the social scene, right?

      Like the older brat says, I have to get used to the new ‘snakes’ to graduate. He seems to have given up on me!

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  9. Elder Brat · · Reply

    Mataji,

    Don’t think you will ever graduate to the latest touch phones until you get over your love of the classic snake game! Remember how when you came to London I had downloaded some super cool snake games on the iPhone for you and didn’t like one of them!! You just went back to the game on your old model Nokia!!

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    1. Those games were too fast for me! and the snake didn’t look as nice; in fact they looked too competitive 🙂 Why don’t you find some snakes that look like ‘real’ snakes and then I will think of changing over?

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  10. Great post as usual! I believe I did the hand-them-downs to my dad in exchange for new ones!. I remember Dad shrunk away from mobile phones for long because he didn’t want to be at the beck and call of his boss! Now there’s no life without mobile phones for mom and dad even if it maybe just using the basic features!
    Btw, did the long due thing of adding you to my blogroll!

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    1. Look how times have changed! Gone are the days when kids got the used gadgets from their parents and today kids do the hand-me downs 🙂 I still know of some people who don’t want to use a mobile phone and even if they have one, would either not carry it or keep it switched off.

      Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I have subscribed to your posts, btw.

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  11. Great post 🙂 Very honest. Loved it.
    Good luck for the contest!

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    1. Welcome to my blog Nandana. Thank you for the comment and glad you liked it.

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  12. Great post Ma’am 🙂 even I am an ardent ‘snake game’ fan 🙂

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    1. Welcome here Shalini. I am pleasantly surprised that youngsters are interested in the game! And i thought that all they did was zap and zoom! 🙂

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  13. Ha ha ha. Wait till appa reads your comment! You used to be one silent operator and poor appa depended upon your knowledge of gizmos!

    I can well imagine your chagrin at missing the opening scenes of the movie and anxiety about not getting popcorn. now that is a horror, isn’t it?

    btw, thanks for the compliment on the post!

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  14. This post goes down as the best from the L&M series! I still remember the brick we got as a hand me down from dad. Ok, here is one thing that happened when dad and I were out for a movie. You had to stay back home for some reason.

    SO the movie had 10 minutes to start; when he decided to make a phone call. Back in those days outgoing calls were 16Rs for a minute. So there was this crowd which gathered looking at what appa was doing. And he pretended to look all cool and happening talking on his phone about onion prices, the new government with his boss. this went on for another 30 minutes and i was seriously worried that if he spent so much on phone i would not get my pop corn. We finally saw the movie minus the first 20 minutes.

    Remember the time, when he complained that his phone SIM had been locked? Do you really think i was dumb enough to do that by mistake? I did it to take revenge for the 20 minutes of the movie we missed. Ok, Now its out of the closet. hehehe

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    1. Bhai,

      I have a feeling he was not really talking to anyone but showing off. If you had called at that time from a phone booth it would have been good fun!

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      1. No man. Why steal his moment of thunder? 😀 Let the old man be happy, we have other ways of taking revenge

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        1. Yo brats! Appa is too miffed by your comments! Poor thing, you better stop plotting revenge against him and make up to him, double quick!

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  15. LOL!! That was a delightful read!!! Loved it.So phones are good to nurture sporting instincts huh? good one 🙂
    Where is the link to vote for you on Indiblogger?

    Btw, I have participated too, and would love to have your feedback on my fiction. Its a serious sort of fiction, so that’s a warning upfront 😉
    http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=34664
    Cheers…

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    1. Thanks for the comment Pallavi. My post is right on the first page of the indivine tata docomo contest entries! 🙂

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  16. What would we do without our young ones? And yes, communication has made great strides in the past decades and especially in the last few years.

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  17. hai Zephyr

    I am another one trying to catch up with the latest in technology, cell phone or computer with the help of my young ones. And amazingly how the cell phones especially have spoiled us; my mother, I can’t even imagine how she waited for months to read a letter from me. Initially it took minimum two weeks to reach a letter from Africa to India. Landlines were in use only in big cities that too with primitive reception. Now my children are just one touch away. Amazing.

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  18. If your L&M posts crack me up no end this one surely is a SCREAM !! Loved it !
    I remember my first experience with the mobile….Husband dear had forgotten it behind so I happily put it in my bag when I went out with the boys and my cousin who was visiting us. Then suddenly I hear the mobile ring….I fish it out and start pressing this button and that, not knowing how to take the call(had used only landlines till then…and was truely ‘gizmo challenged’). The mobile still ringing, I asked my cousin who was with me to take the call(the boys were nowhere in sight…) but she said she was equally clueless ! In all this fumbling the phone stopped ringing, after what seemed like eternity ! Hoping that it wouldn’t ring again I put it back in my bag…but sure enough it started to ring again. Spotting my younger brat, ran to him and gave the mobile to him. He pressed the right key to speak to his Dad to reassure him(as husband dear was worried that someone had flicked it, so was calling to find out!) the mobile was very much with me ! To his “How come you didn’t pick up Pop’s call Mom ?” I sheepishly admitted that I didn’t know which key to press to take the call….. he patiently showed me the key with the green line !
    Though I’ve come a long way since that day, I’m still not comfortable with the ever increasing features that today’s mobiles offer ! Prefer and happy with the basic features !

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    1. LOL At least I learnt the turning off and on much before the brick came to me! What would we do without the brats? I remember being close to tears when my computer used to go on a blink after the younger one left home. He finally made a ‘trouble shooting guide’ with the actual windows showing the options to help me!
      So you are in the same boat as L&M, using the basic features, eh?

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  19. Your post rings a bell…. my hubby too has a thing about changing mobiles and so do my girls… so i have to settle with the hand me downs…but unlike u i never play games :). I just enjoy chatting up and exchanging smses. Hope u get your new phone soon… happy plotting 🙂

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    1. LOL thanks Abha. you know something? When I buy a new phone I feel I am spending money, but if the L&M buys one and gives me his old one, I don’t feel the same way, even though money is spent! 🙂

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  20. Now that i come to think of it I realize that you are so correct;my mumma always gets the model which I or my siblings discard for zazzier models!!!I will buy her a new phone this birthday and coincidentally she likes “snakes” too(I just hope “Hiss” does not change things much ;))

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    1. Oh great! See, I told you it is a very positive and nurturing kind of game. No wonder mothers like it. LOL
      Hiss or no hiss, it is a favourite! Do let me know which model she chose. 🙂

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  21. LOL…. I remember Maa was so confused when we had gone shopping for her new cellphone…. terms like GPRS, WAP, etc. were all alien to her and i was driven up the wall trying to explain “kb” (of 10p/10kb) to her!
    Finally I just broke it down to touch/non-touch/radio/camera and asked her to choose which of the features she wanted… Surprise she went for all of them 😉
    Only thing is she is pleased to bits with her new phone (her first new phone may I add, all previous ones being hand-me-downs from either my sister or me). She loves taking snaps with her phone camera (2MP without flash) and then waving them in the faces of people who were “dumb enough” to purchase cameras with a higher resolution (including my DSLR! duh!!!!) 😉

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    1. DSLR? Duh?

      Pratibha sounds just like my kind of person! LOL.
      Psst. I am notorious for losing phones and so am a little apprehensive of handling expensive ones. Fortunately for me, Snake comes in one of lowest end models, unless I get a real groovy one where I can download the game and play all I wnat!

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      1. Pratibha · · Reply

        My son says some people are mentally challenged, some are physically challenged and his mother is ‘technically’ challenged.
        Somebody please tell him, I am trying very hard to overcome my shortcoming.

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        1. Take your time Pratibha. Let them crib all they want. I bet you will have the last laugh in the war with technology! 🙂

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    2. Pratibha · · Reply

      I feel on top of the world to know that you have admitted my mobile can take better pictures than your mobile. I promise, I will let you use my mobile-camera once a week.

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      1. once a week? 😀

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      2. @ Maa: Huh! “you have admitted my mobile can take better pictures than your mobile”! How do you figure??? 😛

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        1. She read between the lines in your comment! 😀

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          1. So here I have somebody to support me.
            I guess Siddharth is jealous.
            But I WILL NOT exchange this mobile of mine, for anything in d world. It is a gift from my son from his first salary.

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          2. Attagirl! That’s the spirit. Tell Siddharth that! 😀

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  22. Mom, the universal wastebin…I get only the discarded ones…even those are so good that I have no complaints…I wait for my son to succumb to temptation!…:D

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    1. You said it! I guess it comes from the instinct of not wasting anything. Good you have someone who gets tempted with new models to let you have the hand-me-downs.

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  23. Don’t hanker too much after the snake, what if the snake grows up to be Mallika Sherawat and hisses the life out of you!!!

    And I personally favour mobiles with QWERTY keypads. makes life much simpler.

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    1. Now that sounds scary! i wouldn’t have minded Vyjayantimala or even Sridevi, but Sherawat! 😛

      I have no preferences as long as I don’t have to pay for it. 🙂

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  24. hahahaha….i used to be one of those who changed mobile every six months.. my mom or dad will reserve it as soon as i get a model on basis of its looks.. they were sure that they ll get in six months exact 😀

    after i discovered Samsung Marine, i stopped changing.. 🙂

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    1. Does it have Snake? If it does, I would love to take the hand-me-down in case you decide to change, that is 😛

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  25. I’ve so far managed to do without a mobile, but the rest of the family is totally hooked. It’s amazing how a device that was unneeded for thousands of years suddenly becomes essential 🙂

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    1. That’s what big biz is all about — create a need and a market and push it down on the consumers. Good for you to have resisted the onslaught of the mobile phones. 🙂

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  26. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vineet Rajan, Vineet Rajan. Vineet Rajan said: My Mobile Journey http://goo.gl/fb/AAGzY […]

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