It was the famous acrobat Arjun Dasgupta who said, ‘Life is too short’. Of course, a passerby hecklepublicd the 3foot-7 inch Dasgupta by yelling, “But you are shorter than life”. This led to a fistfight, in which 36 members of the public, including seven women and fourteen children, all ferociously thrashed the miserable Dasgupta. In fact, the last words uttered by the till then inscrutable Dasgupta were, “Oooh er, arghhhh”.
Initially this was thought to be Bengali, but to this day, linguists are unsure of the actual origin. Now, you are obviously asking your friend, what is the point of this anecdote? This is a mighty good question, but sadly, I just can’t remember why myself. Ah yes, the point of the story is, life is strange, just like all the buildings on Palm Beach Road, Navi Mumbai. Which brings us slyly to today’s topic, ‘Mobile Phones’.
Before we enter into a deep, layered discussion, may I put it out there, that I absolutely hate mobile phones, actually all phones in general. So let’s be clear, I am completely biased and partial. My feelings for mobile phones are exactly the same as Kim Jong Un’s feelings for democracy, or Vladmir Putin’s feelings for hair care products.
In his book, ‘The Phoniness of Phones’, Edgar Arthur points out — the word phone itself is wrong and misleading. What is the need to spell phone with a ‘ph”, when an ‘f’ would make more sense — FONE. FONE would be the correct way. The very usage of PHone, has a ring of fraudulence and artificiality. And a house built on fraudulence cannot stand by itself. It all kicks off with colours, shapes and designs.
Today’s phones are loosely based on animal crackers. Pink, yellow, light green and mustard? I’m not a phone racist, but where’s the government now? Who is supposed to stop this rampant abuse of colour? Recently, I saw a phone shaped like a helicopter.
Another one was an actual ladybug! Tell me from what angle are we a ‘gareeb desh’? How can you call yourself a poor country when people are walking around nonchalantly, with ladybug phones? Worse still, imagine if your close friend had such a ‘ladybug’ phone and suddenly a common friend calls on it, and then you, my dear, have to answer the phone. You have to pick up, hold, and place on your ear, a phone that looks like a ladybug! You think your parents will be proud?
Then we have the smaller matter of the conical phones — like all things conical, (ice-cream cone, referees’ microphones, Hardik Pandya), being used to dig the users’ various orifices. And by various, I mean ears. Both ears. Today’s mobile phone spends too much time in the user’s hands.
It stands to reason it’ll be up to no good. And land up in places, er….where no man has gone before, and in any case, should never go, again. Which brings us to phone etiquette. When I was a young man, millions of years ago, people spoke very softly and politely on the phone. Now, being on the mobile is like playing cricket in a Bombay maidan, where seventeen matches are happening around you at the same time.
So, while you are fielding at gully in your match, you are also midwicket, for your neighbour’s match, or third man for his neighbour’s match, in turn. Just go to a mall and you can kill time participating in all the various conversations. Mobile phones have killed all subtlety. Along with etiquette, they have eliminated grace, poise, tranquillity, and above all, civility.
Luckily, none of these traits have really been known to us Indians, but still the mobile phone juggernaut rolls on. Don’t you miss the time at airports, when you could stare at someone, and they would stare back? Till one of you felt victimised and walked away in disgust. Those were happy times. Lovely times.
Times when your Jet privilege card stood for something. Then came mobile phones, just like the bubonic plague. But in different colours, and the good times are gone. Yes, let’s all hate mobile phones, there’s so much to hate about them. And all this, before we even get to what’s inside them.
Cyrus Broacha is a comedian, TV anchor, theatre personality, satirist, podcaster and an author.