Long, long ago the telephone was used to, well... just talk. The invention of this device is mired in controversy and a confusing collection of claims and counter claims. When we were young, life was simple. We were told Graham Bell invented the telephone, we didn’t question it. The closest we came to a controversy was Marconi and his radio (it is alleged that our own Jagdish Bose invented the radio but was too lazy to go and file a patent). We now have Google and a million idle scholars. We are no longer sure of anything in this world.
Coming back to the telephone, it was an ugly instrument and the numbers had to be dialled (Nowadays my husband just barks a “Call John Mathew” on his Blackberry). Getting through was half the battle won. People spoke, they complained, made polite enquires. Cross connections were the rigueur de norm, intermittently a love story blossomed. I heard my first Nazia Hassan number on my phone courtesy a friend who played her hot new track for me. The cordless phone soon made its’ debut. We could now walk around the house, go up and down the stairs and discuss the hot new guy who had just joined college.
The 90’s ushered in the telecommunication revolution. The telephone became cellular. For a few years it was a status symbol. I have witnessed people having imagined conversations on their mobile, only to have it ring a few minutes later. My dad often used to run his car over his device. No, he wasn’t testing it for resilience. On their way out of the car, the mobile would drop off my mom’s lap where she would keep it for safekeeping. She had yet to get used to its size.
People found new uses for it, when they were bored they would make hoax calls and occasionally get arrested. Then there was this exciting new feature called texting. Furiously texting creatures were fast becoming part of the city’s landscape. Couples were breaking up on the phone, much awaited movie storylines were getting leaked and circulated, pathetic jokes were getting forwarded. We also started getting harassed by telemarketers. Everything from credit cards to would-you-like-to-support-a-few-causes is being promoted through the phone. The MMS feature heralded a sleaze phase. Voyeurism was now scaling new heights.
My mobile is an extension of my arm. It stores and plays my favourite tracks, I sometimes click photos with it, use it to surf the net, check my mails and text my buddies. Occasionally I use it to make phone calls and keep in touch with the men in my life (the milk vendor, veggie guy, gas walah and the husband). On our recent trip to Copenhagen, the GPS feature came to our rescue in zeroing on the Railway station exit nearest to our hotel. It saved us a long walk and, believe me, it’s not easy when you are lugging two mammoth suitcases and a couple of handbags (the Rays do not believe in travelling light).
Shoaib Malik gave a new dimension to this ubiquitous device. He went ahead and had a telephone nikah, suffered amnesia and made a miraculous recovery. If people can use the phone to flirt (ask Tiger Woods), serenade, break-up, why can’t they use it to marry?
Recently a blogger friend of mine typed an entire post on his device (his mobile). So what will people think of next? A phone that gives you a back-massage, tames your frizz and has an inbuilt pepper spray?
What a brilliant thought! I’d better hurry and file for copyright. I wouldn’t want the origin of my path breaking ideas to be mired in controversy and confusion. At least some things should be crystal clear to our future generations.