Upwardly mobile

QUITE A few of you may be bugged by the handset that beeps at movies, plays, or at the wrong moment, but you must be a minority. These days, connectivity is everything. And when it spells m-o-n-e-y, who are you to carp? Today, owning a mobile is no longer the privilege of the well-heeled, but the working class too. Tellingly, the maid in the Kannada serial Hogli Bidi Saar owns one. The makers of the serial would have intended it as a parody, but don't laugh yet. Just the other day, the auto I was travelling in came to a sudden halt for no apparent reason. Seconds later, I discovered the reason: that the driver was giving his caller instructions to make sambar! At least the driver was sane enough to stop. Not so the BMTC bus driver who constantly kept getting calls on his mobile. The market is also working overtime to lure new customers with attractive rental offers to suit all pockets.

Nanda Kishore (98451-33348), a carpenter, who has been using a mobile for four years, is a case in point. "Initially, my bill would be around Rs. 2,000. But nowadays I buy a pre-paid card. It helps me in my budgeting," explains Kishore, who has a Magic connection. "Today I spend just Rs. 540 a month," he adds.

Mohan Kumar (36845804) and Yaseen (36849617), both auto drivers in their 20s, have given their mobile numbers to almost all those who commute in their auto and insist they will turn up when summoned.

"You can call me even in the middle of the night and I'll come," says Yaseen, who also offers a "discount on the meter charge" for regulars.

However, there's a rider: one has to give him a two-hour notice so that his return trip is also fruitful.

Mohan, who bought a connection on a customer's suggestion, says he'll reach in half an hour. "The mobile has helped me in business. I can afford to take a break of an hour or two daily." He also offers a one-day package. "I will take you anywhere as long as it is within the city limits," he adds.

Chandrashekar N.K. (98451-43762), a plumber-CUM-electrician who works independently, says business is good after he started using a mobile. "As I am always on the move, a mobile helps my customers get in touch with me," he says.

All these men said the fringe benefit was that their families could contact them in case of an emergency.


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