Sunday, December 5, 2010

Article in the Indian Express - December 5, 2010

The following article appeared in my Sunday column 'Un Intended' in The New Indian Express today.

Harimohan Paruvu
There is a huge misconception floating around that mobile phones are so called because the phones are mobile. In fact, it is the other way around. Mobile phones are phones that make people mobile. The moment a mobile phone connects with a human ear, the human body starts walking to faraway places, zombie like, forgetting all else. Happy hormones get secreted, and they are as joyful as can be, talking and walking, phone to ear. Hence, mobile phones! 

The mobile phone to ear contact seems to have been designed to be much like a key in a car and - off they go. Different people react differently of course. There are the ‘walking’ kinds who, when the phone rings, walk purposefully away from civilization, the mobile ringing like a baby denied milk. Only when they are alone, on the moon or some such distant place, do they address the phone, circling ominously in the dark as they speak. Then, there are the ‘running’ kinds who rush off urgently when the phone rings. ‘Hullo, hullo..’ they say, moving at rapid speeds in the direction of the call, trying to catch the signals even before they come. In a few minutes they appear next to the person who called them, jogging away and talking. In person.

Then come the ‘cringing’ kinds who stuff the phone into their ear and push themselves into the deepest corners of the house, whispering in low tones. In their quest to find the quietest and farthest place away from others, they sometimes get into places from where it is difficult to extricate them. And then, there are the ‘pop up’ kinds who get up instantly like a Jack-in-the- box when the phone rings. Having jumped up, they insist on speaking loudly, so the other person can hear them, even if they switch off their phone. All this is done involuntarily of course, and when the call is over, the mobile people are surprised at finding themselves in unfamiliar locations.

For some, life is about being mobile - all else is incidental. So they speak on the phone, and on the side, walk dogs, walk babies, walk to grocers, walk on roads, walk on train tracks, walk into airports, walk into neighboring houses, walk into toilets, walk into marriages, walk out of marriages, walk across borders, and walk into god knows where, in their ecstatic state. Sometimes they are spotted walking the leash instead of the dog, or worse, having the baby and husband on leash and the dog in the pram and such stuff (but mobile fixed like a permanent limb to ear). They walk into walls, trains, cars and planes, engrossed in their mobiles, causing them to appear as newspaper items the next day – still on the mobile. 

And there are those, whose minds become mobile when their phones ring, and they are transported mentally to distant places. In their delirium, they suddenly say, ‘I am in the hospital’ while watching a movie. Or they might say ‘I am just entering Chennai’ when we know they are not entering anything (and are very much in Hyderabad). The moment the call is over they start watching the movie normally, conforming that they are not mobile anymore. 

I feel that it might be better if these mobile people are tied down when they get calls. All this involuntary twitching and wandering off does not appear safe – for the wanderers and the world around them. Either we have some good training schools to certify them (as trained to handle mobile phones) or they should be compulsorily on leash i.e. landlines only!

For more articles in 'Un Intended' on expressbuss please follow this link:

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