Saturday, 20 February 2010

On not answering a cell phone

Should I or not answer my ringing cell phone? It is disturbing me right now- I have tried using as melodious a ring tone as possible but it still screeches into my unwilling ear. Somehow, a non mobile phone doesn’t seem quite so invasive. A cell phone cries for your attention, reminds you of urgency, tears you away from lazy thoughts and gears you to action. Mind you, I don’t doubt for one single minute that it is useful, it clearly is. I had to take some cheese for my friend and in order not to forget it in the confused corner of my overloaded fridge, I set up what is called a “cheese alarm”. It rang faithfully just as I was about to get into the car and reminded me by displaying in comic sans ms font with bold and italic lettering the word cheese.

As useful it may be, you don’t want to hear it ring especially when your mind is clearly lost in the past and refuses to acknowledge the passage of time. Once I was meeting a long last friend and everytime we tried to take a nostalgic trip, my friend’s phone would chime ‘ Mustapha mustapha’. “ I am sorry, I really have to take this call’ the friend says clearly enjoying the benefits of modern cellphone technology that tells you who your caller is. I feel a pang of jealousy, ‘ this is someone who is more important than myself’, I think feeling like a child who has had a new sibling. But my self pity doesn’t last long. My friend is free from the clutches of the unknown caller and says wistfully “ Oh, where were we? when something desperately vibrates in my purse. Darn, I better look who the caller is, I say to my friend who by now is busy sending off an sms to fill the precious time. I curse myself for not having paid for having the caller ID of this mysterious caller and try to fish the phone out of the purse before it stops ringing and I hear it beep informing me of a missed call. I fumble hurriedly for the keys of the phone, log in several times into the games directory before getting on to the message. ‘Keys’ says the phone in bold and italic comic sans ms font and I realize that I had forgotten to leave the keys of the house with the neighbor for my husband . ‘ Look, I really have to rush now, I say to my dismayed friend and hail a taxi”.

In the taxi I desperately try make a couple of calls to my neighbor without success. I get home to find my husband in relaxed conversation with my neighbor over a coffee. They seem to be clearly happy to have had this chat and much neighborly feelings were being exchanged. I cannot  take part in this joyful meeting. I dial my friend’s cell phone to explain but get the answering machine’s request to wait until the beep before launching into explanations. I am worried now that my friend will never want to take my calls anymore. I try to console myself by assuming that the cell phone had been switched off to attend to important tasks like living, cooking, cleaning, reading etc., not believing this lame excuse for a moment.

“Let us not go inside but let’s go for a walk’, says my husband.

“Let me first get into the house to leave my cell phone at home’ I say

“What if some one called”?

“Let them think that I have seen their caller ID’ I say callously.


  1. Hey Rethu

    This is a fantastic piece. I really enjoyed reading. I feel the same way when the most important call seems to come and I am fumbling in my purse for my glasses/phone. Keep up the writing. I am enjoying it.


  2. Hi rethu
    Good one - cd get published in India in a newspaper. These are the kind of articles that come around every other day. Good one.

  3. Thanks Mala and Sugi for the nice comments. Really encouraging.

  4. Hi Rethu

    I managed to see your blog only now. I have a couple of soothing ring tones that help. One is gong and the other is like that of a small mani. reminds me of my meditation, prevents me from getting too irritated. I could send them to you if you like.


  5. thanks for visiting my blog. I didnt get to see your comment.

    To need a cell phone to remind you to meditate-wow! that is technology for you.