The first person in our family to have owned a mobile phone is Mummy. Since no one else had this prized gadget, and calls from land line to mobile were expensive, it took her a year to learn her own mobile number and how to answer a call (as there was no scope for trial). However it served as an accessory – which is also one of the primary reasons for this purchase. It shifted focus from the beautiful hand painted pallu of her sari to the gray rock that was Nokia 3310, which she held proudly in her palm. Considering the size and weight of that handset combined with Mummy’s quick temper and my innate talent of annoying almost anyone, I was always at a risk of that thing to be flung at my head. Well even if that ever happened, this sturdy phone would continue to function normally and promptly continue to receive messages (if any) about my demise.
In another year Mummy’s colleagues woke up to the wireless revolution that was happening outside the gates of their college (and their minds) and started buying mobile phones. I have a strong doubt whether they all took mass decision to buy their own
weapons handsets to defend themselves just in case they got into a
scuffle with Mummy (which was very likely). Mummy is such a gadget freak, that
she changed her handsets as often as gas cylinders got replaced in the kitchen.
I got my first phone when I was in my final year at college, year 2004. Since everyone else had phones, and also the queue behind the land line at hostel was much longer and horribly intolerant than the one outside the foreign liquor shop, it became more of an emergency. It was also a must-have for the continued functioning of Papa’s eardrums and soon enough, the Nokia 1108 came home. The screen on it had a white display, which was a distinct feature compared to other phones of those times.
Most of my friends had the Nokia 1100 which had yellow display. In comparison my phone and its display looked celestial during power cuts at hostel. And I bragged about it to my phoneless friend, “Look at that Nokia 1100. The display looks like it fell in a pile of shit.” And she agreed. Well I am not sure whether she put up with my observations and dirty comparisons only because there were rats in her room and hence had to sleep in mine.
Even though we were not allowed to bring phones to college, I carried my sleek and beautiful moonlit equipment in my purse on a silent mode, as if I was expecting business calls to come from Singapore and South Africa. Well silent mode was renamed college mode, and although this renaming facility was available even in abacus I loved to pretend to be a gadget guru who knew inside out of mobile phones. Guess what, I knew how to rename phone profiles! Well at hostel if I wanted the girls on the first floor to know that I own a mobile I had to put it on full volume and threaten my friend to give missed calls every now and then and act popular among other girls. It’s funny because nine out of ten boys at the men’s hostel dint know my name and hence I was not sure who I was trying to convince and what. And that one guy who knew me was the lab attendant (who gave me water when I was about to faint at the Carpentry lab) who also stayed at the men’s hostel.
Soon after, I landed a job as a fresher trainee at Technopark. As a trainee my stipend was Rs.7500 per month, and my extravagance was inversely proportional to my income. Often I had to beg or borrow from Papa to pay my credit card bills. Stealing was considered undignified back then. It was also at the same time when Sony Ericsson phones with polyphonic ringtones and 2 megapixel camera became a hot trend. They were a rage among youngsters. The guys at office went on clicking and showed off their ringtones in atrocious ways. My phone started looking like that thing which Charles Babbage invented while a T-Rex roared outside his window. There was absolutely no comparison. The complex was stifling. The Sony Ericsson phone I had my eyes set was priced at Rs.12500. It was the K750i.
According to Warren Buffet and his ideologies on handling finances, if you want something with all your heart the entire Universe conspires to get it for you, and this suffers a horrible delay, during which you need to borrow from someone and buy it. That month when my salary arrived I withdrew the entire amount, hesitantly accepted a fund of 5k from Mummy (usually I don’t accept charity, it hurts my ego you see) and bought the phone.
Next thing I knew, I was clicking crows, coconuts, shoe laces, earthworms, ants and butterflies. The sms ringtone was so loud and dramatic that it gave our housemaid a mini shock whenever I received a sms. My show off knew no boundaries. I opened and read smses (which usually came from BSNL about their new talk time plans) like it came from Ranbir Kapoor. I placed it on dining table when I had dinner, lest I’d miss out on some multimillion dollar business deal. I plugged earphones to it and listened to music during my travel in office bus while my friends chatted away and had a great time. At office I turned around and asked ‘Do you have a Sony Ericsson charger’ in such an accent so that people who still owned Nokia 1100s took notice, and grew jealous about my monster gadget.
However this was the phone I used the longest. Bigger and better phones came and went, even parents Sony and Ericsson separated, but I did not fancy any other phone than my own. I used it almost five years. Five years! Five years is a really long time even for marriages these days, during which Mummy changed at least seven mobile handsets in my knowledge. The owners of the shop which took her used phones and sold new ones to her became millionaires and they opened another branch in Dubai.
Back in my hostel days, we clicked photos of us girls displaying our mobile phones like we were its brand ambassadors and some other pictures which had us pretending to talk on calls. When I flip through those albums I cringe in embarrassment. God! There cannot be anything cheaper than this. Let not anyone find out about this album, God, please. The day my son finds it, will also be the last day he calls me ‘Mom’. So that is the second thing I should hide from my son. The first being our wedding reception album which was shot by some cheap photo studio guys who edited our pictures and made me and my husband look like lepers.
I am a pro in misplacing things, but not the best in hiding.
Wait. Where is my phone?