Saturday, May 22

Tring Tring....Who's there??

When mobile phones were introduced in the market they were seen more of an improvised and modified version of a cordless phone with certain unseen and unheard of features. From being the ones adhering only to the basic purpose of their conception viz making and receiving calls, an address book for contacts and having an easily operable and usable technology, they’ve surely come a long way.

They now store images, songs and videos and have an ever increasing memory with the help of memory cards. They provide you with cameras, radio and voice recording facility. I can go on and on. But this post is not about the umpteen positive and/or negative effects and after-effects of mobiles. I intend to speak about the time when there was no such concept as a mobile.

The first memory of a telephone I have is that of a heavy black instrument (rotary) we had at our place. It had a dial in front of it, the typical sorts we had back then wherein one had to insert a finger/pen/pencil/spoon in the hollow above the desired number and roll it upto the end point. We kids were warned to be careful with it since the receiver too was not easy for us to handle. I remember the excitement of us kids when it went all trrriiing trrriiing and we ran to answer the phone.

Years went by and the form of the telephone evolved into sophisticated light-weighted sleek models which gave way to press-in buttons and redial, call waiting and address book facility. Not only this, they now give you choices for ringtones too. Answering machines are an added feature. The uses are plenty.

One thing however which has not and will not evolve is the way people talk and answer on phones. Phone etiquette surely has fewer buyers. Even now, at my Mom’s I had to answer to people who were ranging from pathetic to downright rude. Here go some of the conversations:

Tring Tring……. Tring Tring…. Tring Tring…
Me:  Hello
Some Aunty *sounding surprised* (why??): Who is it?
Me: You tell me
Aunty *Very stylishly brazen*: I'm Mrs. XYZ...can I talk to Mrs.ABC (my Mom)?
Me: She can't come to the phone right now. Can I take a message?
Aunty *Uncertainly* : I'm not sure I can tell you. I'll call back.
Aunty hangs up. I’m bewildered. Can’t I take down a message properly or these people are discreet the Osama way??

Tring Tring……. Tring Tring…. Tring Tring…

Me: Hello
Some Aunty : Hello…is this Varsh?
Me *Happily* : Yes Aunty…How are you?
Some more banter on how, when, where about me and her.
Me: Mom’s not at home…is there some message for her?
Aunty: I wanted to invite her at my place for a party. *Accusingly* But you’re at home so probably she won’t come. Just tell her I called.
Aunty hangs up. I’m feeling incredibly insulted. Do I need her permission to come to my place???

And finally….

Tring Tring……. Tring Tring…. Tring Tring… Tring Tring……. Tring Tring…. Tring Tring…
(the call gets cut before I can answer it)
Tring Tring……. Tring Tring…. Tring Tring…
Me (running to get to it) *Breathlessly* : Hello
A hoarse voice: Can’t you pick up the phone?
Me: Huh...Who is it?
XYZ: Now you don’t even recognize my voice?
Me *Uncertain* : I’m sorry I’m not getting you, who’s it?
XYZ: I’m the so and so of your so and so who live in Amravati.
Me: What? We don’t have anyone in Amravati…

No points for guessing it was a wrong number and I realized it only after my head had started spinning wildly ‘se of the family tree the man insisted I should consider. Needless to say, this time I hung up!

I know of many people (me included) who prefer mobiles over landlines. They are easy to carry and enable constant contact with anyone at all times. It comes with its baggage though. Its not a rare sight to find people screaming loudly into their phones in public places due to bad network or even going overtly mushy and embarrassing people around them. What more, even wrong numbers on mobiles are common now! Whatever the mode, I’d suggest people conduct themselves well and let others be too.

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