Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Phone unfetish

For someone who has an opinion on men who carry umbrellas or wear synthetic, I am rather dull when it comes to flashing my own devices.

Okay, I will make a confession here— I am something of a gadget relic; I have a Nokia 1100. I also own a tape-deck, which incidentally, empowered me to listen to a 12 year old tape of Alan Parson’s Project, post his concert in Bombay, while the rest of the world was still figuring out ‘how to get that CD?’ And I have a hand-me-down laptop from my brother which still gets me all worked up on account of blink-and-you-miss-it option to choose from Linux or Windows. I also do not own a six CD changer, or power windows. I just change my CDs and roll my windows on my own. What? Doesn’t go with my image? I have heard that. Get a life? Well, get in line. I am like that only.

I am not in a hurry to sort any of the above. Especially my phone with the in-built torch. For the upwardly mobile and technologically snobbish, it is the same phone that was till a few years ago, advertised as the highway truck driver’s phone, or the phone for the nation or the farmer or some such. Today, they don’t even sell it, I am sure. I do notice that autowallas and cabwallas have higher end phones, so obviously I own something representative of a different era. Gadgets to me, are about convenience, not about elegance.

A friend of mine, the I-like-to change-my phone-every-six- months type always has a point of view when she looks at mine. “O God, how can you be seen with this? Move on!” I actually felt sorry for her finding an identity in an inanimate object and smiled to myself.

But I must admit, I did go through an interim snobbish phase, when I got myself a 6610 or whatever, and it looked oh-so-delicate that my ample hold-everything-I-own bag didn’t seem like a comfortable home for it. So I got one of those bags which had a special pocket for the phone on the outside. Except someone else also knew about the ‘special phone pocket’ and the phone got nicked. It more or less convinced me that higher end technology is not meant for me.

A few years ago, I worked on an advertising campaign for something called intelligent switches. Apparently, the various lighting systems and gadgets in your house switch on upon your arrival. Now, how ridiculous is that, I thought. Imagine telling someone, “even my door can sense my arrival.”
But there is a huge subtext to why my phone makes me feel empowered. It does have its advantages, for sure.

Advantage one is that no one wants it, so it will never get stolen. I have left it behind countless times in loos, at work, in my car, at shops, restaurants, and always got it back.
Advantage two (which is what the sales guy made a pitch for) is that it is really sturdy and low-maintenance; I really dropped it a couple of times to check if that was true and it sure was! So, I am not worried about scratches and bruises …
Advantage three, and this one has a deep, philosophical bent to it is that it helps me clear the clutter from my life.

Let me explain. In my phone are various numbers (I call them miscellaneous) that I have never called and never intend calling. They are usually the ones that are thrust upon me by randoms, “Let me give you a missed call, so you’ll have my number. Or worse, “I’ll biz-card it to you”. And thereby the numbers gather. Till one day when I actually have to save a number and my phone memory says its full. And then it allows me to do what I love doing: replace the miscellaneous with the real. Deep, no?

May be I find a certain comfort in knowing that a gadget is not more intelligent than me.

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