Masterig the Mobile

and going bonkers.
By Dr Kalpana Sarkar
I have a confession to make, I am not mobile savvy. Ever since these little critters flooded the market, everyone who is anyone seemed to be having them. There were pictures of Bollywood actresses and female celebrities clutching them, instead of putting them where they belonged – in their clutches. Even the maids and rickshawallahs had one and were all busy talking nineteen to the dozen. Being the silent type myself, I often wondered what they talked about and for so long. In short, it had become a status symbol, a fashion statement. If you didn’t have one, you were a no one and you would be looked down upon.

That is when my husband decided that all three of us should get this technical marvel.
“Whatever for?” I squeaked. “We have our good ol’ landline. Why waste money?”
You and your middle-class mentality. You will never learn,” he retorted. “Stop living in the Stone Age. Embrace the twenty-first century and all that goes with it.”

My husband got the most advanced and expensive model for himself. I had a suspicion that he did so, more to impress his office people, as being their boss, he could not be seen dead flaunting an outdated and cheap model. Children are tech-savvy and whiz kids from the moment they are born and so my son chose a model which he liked. While I, according to my husband’s assessment of my mental abilities, was given the humble push-button type – a ‘beginner’s phone’, as my brother would comment later.

The advantage

A phone is for communication, right? Wrong. Alexander Graham Bell would turn over in his grave, knowing what a metamorphosis his simple phone had undergone. It took me quite some time not to master it, but to get acquainted with it. The only plus point was that you could easily keep it into your purse and go out, it totally belonged to you, and you could make a call from any place, any time. But a woe, if your battery and balance got over.

Learning how to SMS with its lingo was fun, though it did get me into trouble once. Near my husband’s office, is a shop selling delicious samosas. So I SMSed him to get some on his way back home.

‘Cud u g8 sam?’ (i.e. could you get samosas?), ran my SMS.
He SMSed back, ‘hu is sam?’ (i.e. who is sam?).
Knowing the way his suspicious mind works,
I rang him up instead. “Sam is not a who, it is a what. It stands for samosa,” I told him.
“Why did you not say so in the first place? I thought….”

“I knew what you were thinking.” That day I narrowly averted a Mahabharat in our house. I made a solemn promise to myself not to SMS such double-meaning terms again. Imagine me having an affair with a guy called Sam!

On another occasion, he called me up, and by mistake I pressed the off key. When this happened several times, he called me up on the landline.

“I need to talk to you urgently, so why are you deliberately sabotaging my calls?” He was in a rage.

“I am not. I have not yet mastered the intricacies of the mobile,” I declared.

“I knew it was a mistake to give it to you. Heaven knows what I was thinking of at that time! I must surely be demented. I always knew you had a low IQ”.

This was certainly news to me, specially the part about my IQ. It was also really insulting. Surely my IQ and my handling of my mobile, were not directly proportional to each other, or were they? I seriously began to doubt myself. No point retaliating, for by doing so it would increase his blood pressure, so I kept quiet.

“Well, you are talking to me now. Why did you ring me up?” I asked.

“I don’t have the foggiest idea. It’s all your fault,” and he slammed down the phone.

‘Yes, blame it on the wife as usual,’ I thought with a wry smile. Anyway, I had not asked him for a mobile; it was his own bright idea. I decided to call up my friend, as I thought it would cheer me up. A raucous song hit my eardrums.

A village yokel was lamenting the fact that his ladylove was not reciprocating his affection. So different from the old, melodious, Bollywood songs. I wanted to tell him that if he exercised his vocal cords in that manner, forget love, he would not achieve anything in life, but as it was a recording I could not do so. The song stopped and started all over again. I switched my phone off as I could not let my eardrums be battered in such a manner. From this I surmised four things – (1) My friend had left her mobile and gone off elsewhere. (2) Her phone was on ‘silent’ mode. (3) Her choice of songs was atrocious. (4) She was deliberately punishing me for the mean trick I had played on her, when we were at school together.

Know your mobile

Seeing me fiddling with my mobile with a woebegone face, my son asked me, “Mom, is anything wrong?”
Sort of,” I replied. “Just trying to make some sense of its jargon.”
Let me explain,” he said, sitting down. “Okay, this is a mobile phone, surely you know that?”
Yes.” I agreed. Why did everyone have to assume that I had a low IQ?
Do you know what SIM means?”
As in Subscriber Identity Module?” I had read that somewhere.
Excellent, Mom. Let’s proceed. You tell what you know and I will correct you in between.” No doubt, he was impressed with my SIM definition which actually did not make any sense to me.

“Sure. An Android is half human and half robot as shown in sci-fi movies. Blackberry is a fruit and so is App which is short for apples. A Bluetooth is a guy whose one tooth is blue. RAM is an animal. Maybe ROM is his twin brother who got lost in the mela when they were kids as depicted in old Bollywood movies. A giant bite which you take from a sandwich is called a Megabyte. 2G and 3G are like the ‘yes ji’ I tell your dad, when I am trying to pacify him. As for Whats App, what that?”

By now I was out of breath.

“You are incorrigible, mom. When will you ever learn? He heaved a deep sigh, got up and walked away.

I was left all alone. I had utterly disgraced my family and myself. I kicked myself mentally for being an ignoramus. But who cares? I was not tech savvy, but so what? At my age, if I could not keep up with my son, did it really matter? Understanding all those difficult terms was simply beyond me. Some people are not well cut out for such stuff. I just wanted something which was easy to operate and which I could use for speaking. And if that was not possible, there was always our friendly landline to fall back on.