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Urban Junkie

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The next time I hear a mobile phone ring just as the plane is tilting off the runway I swear I will leap off my seat, hunt out the errant phone, rip it off its owner's ear, throw it to the ground and grind it to as fine a powder as the heel of my shoe can manage.

This is not an innate disrespect for other people's space. And while it may seem like a somewhat unreasonable display of intolerance, I assure you it has come to this after a prolonged, slow, simmering boil. Listen to the following conversation and perhaps you may pick up on some of my distress:

"Oh hi ... long time no hear"
"________" (person on other end, presumably asking 'whatcha doing?')
"No, nothing much - what are you doing?" (Nothing much? How about "I am taking off to Mumbai, will call you later"?)
"_____________" (person on other end, presumably commenting on the weather)
"Yup, it's been really hot. No electricity too last night"
"________________________________" (person on other end, apparently talking about a movie he / she is currently watching)
"Wow, I've been dying to see it. Is it good?" (Now that is anybody's guess. If it was good, would he / she be calling you? On the other hand ...)
"____________________" (person on other end, apparently indicating that the movie is excellent. What do you know.)
"Great, I'll watch it this weekend. Will you call me when they come to that song I told you about? Actually, call me later - I'm off to Mumbai right now" (Finally!)
"________________________" (person on other end, tenaciously hanging on)
"Yes, I know ... were you there at Rakesh's party?" (Dear god.)
"_______________________" (well I clearly cannot blame the person-on-other-end, he has been given no hint of our man's whereabouts - except for the fleeting reference to Mumbai)

All this while the air hostess tells us of the perils to the flight navigation system (and by a logical extension, to our lives) if all phones are not switched off NOW.

I am not against technology. I love the miracle of mobile telephones. I love the fact that it is possible to talk to anyone, anytime and anywhere. I love the feeling of being connected, of being at the other end of the world and yet being 'home' at the push of a button. I love the personalization of phones - the one-to-one contact without a 'may-I-speak-to-xyz-please' ... the knowledge that when you call a number you will hear a specific voice ... the caller identification possible through not just flashing names but also personalized ringtones.

Like I said, I am fully appreciative of the joys of mobile technology and do not grudge anyone else reveling in them.

I have come to tolerate meetings being interrupted by calls. I don't mind (not terribly, at least) the shriek of a mobile ring piercing through a quiet restaurant. I even smile bravely when I hear one during a movie ... presumably there are important things that motivate people to pay for a movie and not watch it. One could even argue that their ringtone sometimes has more entertainment value than the soundtrack of the movie.

But my deep affection for mobile technology is overruled by a healthy respect for aeroplane technology. If the aeroplane does not want to fly when a mobile phone is on, I have no wish to argue. And honestly, I cannot understand people who do want to argue. While some may be dismissive of the aeroplane's touchiness about mobile phones, surely they recognize that it has the upper hand when we are airbound? Of all the possible ways to die, I can think of none more unseemly than "killed by aeroplane's reaction to ringing mobile phone".

I have just gotten off a traumatic flight from Delhi where no less than 7 phones rang just after the airhostess had finished with her dire warnings. Are we witnessing a new kind of thrill-seeking behaviour? Is there a 'keep your phone on' challenge that I am unaware of? Roll over bungee jumping, white water rafting and dirt track racing : the brave new breed keeps their phones on longer while flying. Having puzzled extensively over possible reasons for this widespread flouting of mobile phone rules, I find I can think of nothing plausible. Any ideas, anyone?


  • to rework on a spiderman line 'with great mobility comes great responsibility' .. guess we arent ready for that yet..:)

    By Blogger manuscrypts, at 7:13 AM, September 06, 2005  

  • Well done! Your post captures the frustration i experience everytime i travel by air these days. How strange that these maniacs make us seem paranoid!
    Your posts are getting more and more interesting. Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:02 AM, September 06, 2005  

  • LOL :D

    The low cost air travel seems to have made the problem worse. Especially Deccan where people try to make up for the lack of engagement on the food and frills front by amusing themselves with challenging the laws of aero navigation. Maybe i should just travel on IC where the grumpy air stewards just snatch the phones and attempt to throw both passenger and phone out mid-air!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:40 AM, September 07, 2005  

  • i like the spiderman comment. what irritates me even more is when people switch their phone back on even before the plane has taxied to a complete halt. They can't even wait that extra two minutes. Really deprived people.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:59 AM, September 07, 2005  

  • Aren't you in a wrong place! You ought to be a writer. I am deeply impressed with your use of language, attention to detail and, of course, the subtle wit. Your ability to weave an interesting story out of rather commonplace topics is admirable. Great going... Keep writing. I would join the Blogger's club soon!

    By Anonymous Venky, at 2:28 AM, September 07, 2005  

  • I guess movie halls are one more place where desis use phones a lot. I hope the situation changes soon.

    Thanks for the blogroll.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 8:53 PM, September 07, 2005  

  • Usage of mobiles in meetings and cinemas is punishable by having the offendor's phone confiscated and killing the offendor and/or both.....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at 5:55 AM, September 09, 2005  

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