I want to buy a new cell phone.
Unfortunately, nobody sells cell phones any more, least of all the companies that used to make cell phones. They sell cameras. They sell mp3 players. They sell radios. Each of these has, as an afterthought, the option of use as a phone. You really want something that can make calls? You mean, call somebody? Talk to somebody? How quaint!
Charukesi writes about “technology dissonance” and the “paradox of enhancement”. Me, I’m just looking for a phone. The smaller the better, so it can fit in my pocket. Good battery life, so I don’t need to recharge after every coffee break. And yes, a large phone-book, preferably with that new Nokia feature where you can store up to 5 numbers under one entry. Say, a thousand entry phone-book, that would give me the option of storing 1000x5 numbers. I’m not particular about brands (as long as it’s a Nokia). How do I get one?
Not by going into a shop and asking, evidently. Mobile phones must be the fastest-moving consumer goods around, and that would include mosquito-repellent coils and toilet soap (judging from the ummm, aroma in a couple of the shops). So I wait around till the girl behind the counter turns to look at me, then I clear my throat and …
Before I can say a word, she says “Idhar deejiye” (Hand it over here). Eh? What? While I’m fumbling for my wallet and ID, she asks impatiently “Yes sir, vhaat maadel you vaant?” I ask tentatively, “Aap ko kyaa dena hai? Woh aap ne kaha naa, idhar deejiye? Kya dnoo?” A sudden bright smile and an explanation – she was talking to her colleague at the counter behind me. Fine. But do I make any progress towards getting a phone that fits my specs? Ha!
You see, I don’t know veech maadel I vaant, whether the 867045943vIUOI or the 7438904986EEEEEE4358. Or maybe even the 348958906 FearlessBollocksXXX. I need to buy a decrypting software first, or I could walk out of here with a mid-range airborne weapons platform. Or the patent for a self-fertilising sago plant. Since when does a mobile phone sound like rocket science or biotech jargon?
Look, I don’t want a phone with a camera. I have a camera. I have a mp3 player (two of them, as a matter of fact, no matter that neither of them is in working condition). I also have a diary, an alarm clock, a calculator, a television, a toothbrush and a micro-wave oven; my doctor’s sphygmomanometer is good enough for me and I do not need an instrument for pre-programmed erotic massage, thank you very much. I want a phone. Check out the Tata Indicom ad with Ajay Devgan, it sums up what I mean – “Insaan phone leta hai baat karne ke liye” (People buy phones to talk). Except that this segment is ignored by the makers of mobile phones.
I have been offered, in quick succession, the latest Motorola Motorazr because “it fits my image” (yeah right, people often mistake me for Rahul Dev!), a Samsung phone that revolves round a central pivot (next they’ll offer me a Bey-blade) and a Nokia that looks like an early Sony Play-Station. I don’t want any of these, thanks. I want a PHONE. You know, with those basic specs that I listed up there. Will somebody please tell me where I can get one?