3G, 4G... What ji?

To talk to my siblings, we went to the telegraph office after dinner and booked trunk calls.

The swanky smartphone gifted by my brother lay safe in the package for almost a week. I was rather hesitant to change my phone, for I am not as smart as my phone and may not be able to face the problems of my phone outsmarting me!

In my childhood, telephone was a real luxury. Telegrams brought news of death or serious illness. Occasionally, good news or congratulatory messages were communicated, too. The most memorable one that comes to my mind is the one received by my uncle from my grandfather. It read: ‘Marriage fixed, come immediately.’ He immediately went home from his place of work along with his mother, wondering, only to find that his marriage had been arranged with my aunt, that is, his cousin!

Back in the 70s, we went to the public call offices nearby to make calls. To talk to my siblings who were studying elsewhere, we went to the telegraph office after dinner (as the rates of trunk calls were subsidised after 9 pm), booked the calls and waited for nearly an hour or more to talk just for five or six minutes!

To wish my fiancé for Ugadi once, I requested my landlord and made a call to him, with the prying eyes and curious ears of my mother, my landlord, landlady and others, fixed on me!

I never imagined that the same telephone would become so common all over the world, so soon. It seems straight out of a movie that each of us own a phone today. Since I am not tech-savvy, the mindboggling growth of the communication industry really awes me. My maid, too, can’t stay without her mobile, even for a few hours. 

Just about seven years ago, when I got stranded one day and wanted to call my husband, I was stunned to realise that there were no public call booths anywhere nearby. Where did all those PCOs vanish to? It hit me then that we could not survive without carrying a mobile phone in today’s world. 

Nowadays, parents insist that schools should allow their children to carry mobile phones – what a transformation this is! People are increasingly living with their mobiles. We see smartphones and service providers’ stores all over; and 60% of the TV ads are of them. I, for one, am still stuck to the age when mobile phones entered our lives, unable to cope with all the rat race of 3G, 4G, and the plethora of apps.

Recently, I realised I cannot manage to lead a normal life without making my phone smarter, as I cannot even book a taxi! A phone is no more an instrument to intimate good and bad news. It does so much more – you can shop, you can pay your bills, book your taxi, book your tickets for shows and travel, book hotel rooms, sell unwanted stuff, buy and sell property etc. Oh, and wait a bit! I went to the store the other day and asked the personnel there to set up my new phone. The man gave me a funny look and asked, “Don’t you have any kid around your house?”

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