I have just come to accept that 98840 is not just the beginning of my cell phone number, it is also roughly the amount of my annual cell phone bill.
Admittedly, I use this amazing instrument in many many ways, to run my entire life. And although a handsome guy on TV is telling me these days: Keep it Simple, Silly…I continue to find complex uses for it, the latest of which could be: a possible murder weapon. “Cell phones can kill!” has been the screaming headline in many newspapers and TV channels everywhere. That's good advice when I am coming out of an ATM, and see a dangerous character lurking about. I shall bludgeon him sharply with my cell phone and run for my life.
I must say things have changed dramatically since the stone age of cell phones, i.e. the early 2000s. We merely made or answered calls, after hearing a simple tring tring, much like its recent ancestor, the landline phone. Then the musical revolution began as movie halls, theatres, and even operation theatres erupted with the latest Bollywood hit numbers. I remember one lady telling a young man standing before her in a noisy cinema theatre queue: “Excuse me sir, your backside is singing…” Indeed it was. “Chaiya Chaiya” was merrily playing forth from his right hip pocket.
Then came the texting revolution, which md uz frgt hw 2 spl al2gtr. Then with email invading our little black boxes, it became possible to view all 87 pictures of our cousin's darling two-year-old's birthday party right in the middle of an important office meeting.
Then cell phones began to shimmer and shine. That's when my phone became my jewellery too, and I started buying clothes to match my brand new mobile. And then what about those exciting new features being added on every day! I was besieged by smart, smiling, smooth cell phone operators who waited in long queues to woo me, and even design a plan, especially for me.
Was I satisfied with CDMA? Or GSM? Was I a frequent SMSer? Or Roamer? Did I want a GPRS or MMS? Did I regularly use STD? What about LSD? (Ok, I am not sure if they actually said that.). Did I want access to WAP? Would I pay by ECS? My head spun at these amazing choices, but rather than come through as a moron, I followed a pattern of confidently answering “Yes!” “No!” “Yes!” “No!” through the entire inquisition. Finally I made an informed, calculated and intelligent choice from several plans presented to me; I chose the one where I got free passes to a Shah Rukh movie, and could also dance at 40 per cent off for a whole month at a local salsa class.
Now my latest phone and its features are so fabulous, I can even compose my own unique music, and Danny Boyle should get in touch with me, the next time he hears A.R. Rahman is too busy.
I can exercise powerful voting rights — and send countless smses to get the next Kollywood Dancing Kueen elected.
I can, with just a few clicks of my fingers, transfer money from my bank: All the way to the account of Issaka Bangu, (a poor bankrupt man from Nigeria who's been emailing me regularly for help,) whenever I feel a bit compassionate.
And hey, I can even use my cell phone as an emergency mirror. Just before an important meeting, I just have to photograph my face, and check if my make-up is okay…
WHO says cell phones are dangerous? I'd be dead without mine.
Indu Balachandran is a travel and humour writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org