Mobile dexterity

Mobile dexterity

I wish we had an automatic means of shutting out all urgent-sounding calls.

India is already a billionaire in humans. It will not be long before it becomes a billionaire in cell phones.  These indispensable aids to personal networking are also called ‘mobiles’, perhaps because they let the users move about while the others must wait for the calls to end.

I would have totally missed the era of connectivity but for our domestic help who revels in juggling two or three cell phones at a time.  During the single hour she has set aside for our flat, her sleek gadgets spring to life, in unison or in serial mode, with ringing tags and tunes, all demanding instant response, with a hidden menace of consequences, which we imagine as ranging from crushing penalties to ruthless eviction.  If the agreed task for the hour is to mop the floors or fold the clothes on the line, and the gadgets are simultaneously clamouring for her attention, we know that the phone calls must take priority.

What astonishes me is the adroitly acrobatic balancing act that youngsters like her have mastered.  I mean the feat which no yoga school could have taught the girl: of keeping the slippery gadget stable and secure on her hitched up left shoulder, eager and ready for the G3 or G4 phonologue, her head held rigidly tilted at an acute angle, while she is also multi-tasked on her boring chores. 

We Indians are always yearning to enter the Guinness book of records for feats which no man or woman tried before, like driving a car in reverse gear for the longest distance without provoking road rage, or for eating twenty idlis without belching or puking.  I am also envious of her capacity to transmit SMS messages in coded jargon to friends and rivals, although her literacy has not advanced beyond inscriptions like “C U latr”, even as I sit at my desk, struggling to compose a single paragraph of readable prose. Has Guinness tried to check on this super-Yoga feat of our lot who can balance a mobile phone on the shoulder while riding a mo-bike on the Mysore-Bangalore highway, with both the phone and the dialogue emerging intact?

 But thanks to her, we have eventually acquired our own cell phone, which adds to the trilling interruptions of the home and the array of mobiles being charged from our uncertain electric power supply.  I wish that in this inventive era of connectivity we had an automatic means of shutting out all urgent-sounding calls that bother us day and night from sundry firms and agents that have found our number and persist in offering us luxury-trips to Iceland or life-insurance bargains we need a new avatar to profit from.
There we go again; the trilling of three callers, insistent on her immediate presence at another flat that will not take ‘No’ or ‘Later’ for an excuse, leaving us to rue the marvel of the mobile.  She can avoid the clash if only she blocks the mobile, but she is too wary to do so, and too keen not to miss the promised treat with fellow-workers who can bring her some potato crisps and ‘baathu’ for a festive snack at the neighbourhood park.

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