Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

Girl About Town

I've always been a phone junkie. When I was nineteen, I got my first phone, as a birthday present. This was back in the day when incoming calls still cost money and almost everyone had that old Nokia model..

Oh my god, is it just me, or is everyone thoroughly bored by the iPhone? The first time I saw it was when a US-returned friend in town for a holiday, proudly flashed it at me. "Isn't it lovely?" he asked and I, open-mouthed, extending one finger to gingerly touch it, agreed whole heartedly. Only, he couldn't use it in Bombay--the service provider didn't offer international roaming, and since the iPhone could only be used by one service provider, there was no way for him to get a temporary Indian SIM card. Still, the phone was shiny and pretty and had many cool features like being able to zoom into a photo just by moving your thumb and index finger over the screen.

iPhone two was later. By this time, the unlocking code was fairly popular and a few people in the city were picking up the phone to use like any other. I admired the second one I saw. Still so shiny! Still so very cool!

By the time I saw my third iPhone, I was quite blasé about it. So, it had an mp3 player and a camera? Big deal. My phone had that too. It had an excellent interface, that's for certain, but I'm used to my phone's keypad. And the owner told me he could only sync it with a Mac computer. Plus, he couldn't Bluetooth anything to me, or any other phone except an iPhone. Right. Perhaps it was sour grapes, but suddenly, my desire for this, the latest of cellphone models, was waning.

I've always been a phone junkie. When I was nineteen, I got my first phone, as a birthday present. This was back in the day when incoming calls still cost money and almost everyone had that old Nokia model, the one that was heavy and had an antenna. I got a Motorola Talkabout, a purple phone (which they stopped making about three months after I got mine) and I loved it. Cellphones had just about become popular, so all my friends had phones too. It was the beginning of a long addiction for all of us. We pulled it out between classes to see if we had any new messages, we played Snake obsessively on the tiny screens, and we could no longer avoid our parents if we broke curfew. For better or for worse, we all had long electronic leashes.

My next phone was one I bought myself, a Nokia this time, one where I could change the cover and did, making it a shiny blue transparent one. This year, we were all about the ring-tones, composing them, getting them off each other as messages. And incoming calls became free, so late night phone conversations and messages were how we conducted our romances. I still hadn't got to the stage where my phone and I were one being, but I was getting there fast.

When I began working, straight after college, I realized that my phone was invaluable. I never switched it off. I got calls all the time. I bought a hands-free and used it. I was always available, always on call and my phone was next to me when I slept, when I ate and sometimes, I even took it into the bathroom.

Fancy phones only came into my life much later, after my addiction was established, after I had that strange thing called missing cellphone syndrome where you can feel your phone vibrating even if it's not. This was a MotoRazr, very sexy, and my first camera phone, so I went a little berserk with it. Only to have it stolen a couple of months later. My phones were now good enough to be stolen, apparently.

My phone right now is a clamshell, a Nokia model, with this very cool button that you press to flip it open. I was contemplating getting myself something new for the new year when I stopped and shook my head at myself. I don't really need the iPhone. I don't really need my fancy phone with all its gadgets either. The days when even the fact that I could get messages sent to me would excite me seem so far away.

When did we start taking technology for granted? And does this mean we will never feel the miracle that is a 1000 songs on a gizmo the size of a credit card, the fact that you can be on your laptop while in your car, the fact that your mobile phone can actually take your picture and still be pretty tiny, the fact that everything is getting smaller and more streamlined and efficient. Miracles, all of them, daily miracles, and next time, I'm going to stop and notice.