The Call

Many years ago, living in Africa, when there were no phones at home and one had to book a trunk call to speak to family at home, we would wait eagerly, looking forward to the phone ring at the tcom office. Speaking to relatives in India was a major event, which happened perhaps once or twice a year. These were days when The Call was eagerly awaited. As time flew past, and the mtnl phone, with its crackling sound and rotary dials, become more common, The Call was still eagerly awaited. After all, it could be that girl in school who had a crush on me, and would call me at home but not acknowledge me in school.

At some point in time, not sure exactly when, the mtnl phone was replaced by a Motorola mobile phone. I always treated my Motorola phone as a weapon of defense, it was the heaviest thing in my bag after the laptop. Suddenly The Calls become less welcome. The voice on the other end was typically my boss expressing disappointment with me ; missed my targets again ! Fortunately, at Rs 16 a minute, he restricted his words to 4 letter ones….they took less time and had greater impact.

Over the years, cellphones became cheaper, airtime practically free and the ringer never stopped. The Call became a pain. I began to keep my phone on silent for 10 hours a day….and wondered why did I carry a phone, for others? or for myself?

The Call got new meaning a little over a year ago, when the call on a Friday morning changed my life. And till today, when I get a call from a friend who needs help with the hospital or Dr, it makes me shiver. I would now go out of the way to try and do something, personally keep track even while in important meetings. I don’t know whether I do this out of a sense of duty (work in healthcare afterall), or because I care for the friend, or because of The Call which changed my life.

The Call has become the preferred means to communicate, but do we really communicate on it ? Aren’t we simply sharing news? Indulging in small talk? Do we really share now on the phone? Do we really speak our heart out ? Or have our lives been so taken over by the 160 character text that communication happens in monosyllables ?

I speak for myself, but I still find the written word a more powerful means of communication. I still remember those letters I used to write to my parents and friends when I was in sales, dotted with small sketches of what I had seen or done in the day. That was when feelings were truly shared. Nothing was said, but everything was communicated.

In The Call, I miss that emotion, that touch. Perhaps, when we learn to read each others’ mind, we will go back to using the phone only once or twice a year.

About Neeraj Garg

I have spent more than 20 years in the corporate world, in a mad rat race, like many others. Sometimes, very so rarely, I try and find some time for myself to pen down my thoughts.......not deep or intense, but often asking myself questions about issues that are top of mind.
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3 Responses to The Call

  1. Dr. Santosh says:

    Good one Mr. Garg, it really touched by helping me recall my student life while in Russia during late 90s and early 2000s

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  2. Sachin Ganorkar says:

    Ha , and this takes me back to Amitabh Bacchan and agneepath. Inspector gaitonde. Ye phone bhi kya cheez hai. Aadmi bolta kuch hai, sochta kuch hai aur karta kuch hai.
    — Dark knight , joker – can I take my phone call. — and boooom.
    —- can I become neo as in matrix if I take my phone call. – matrix 1999
    Jokes apart. I put my head out of the car and saw desperately a man on his bike doing acrobatics and stuffing his mobile between his helmet and head , ignoring all safety on a begumpet traffic road and talking. Was it more important than his life. Was there silence , was he congruent with his emotions , did he convey a meaning. No sir ,it was a call and whether it made sense as to why was it so critical. STD booths have disappeared and that shyness of putting the one rupee coin with ten people waiting behind you and you say hi to your girl friend and your time is up. Where is the damn second one rupee coin. Laukar bol, aamhala pan bolaycha she. Sam Pitroda we miss you mate.
    Technology might be at your tips but are the hearts closer to talk or is it just another toolnto blabber your countless thoughts. The charm of waiting and booking a trunk call and counting the time so that your phone bill does not go haywire seems to be almost wiped out for a generation who survived on this. I am still waiting for a call from my batchmates where today we have our numbers on our mobiles but we don’t talk. We don’t converse despite 4 G and cheaper rates . Hearts have grown apart and maybe I am holding on. Maybe machines in this world Where talking is a waste of time. Kaam ki baat kar, warna nikal.

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  3. Dr Tanvi Chhabra says:

    Very well said sir. This has become the bitter truth we are living with. Dependency of many aspects on the phone has taken away the entire emotional quotient, has diluted the essence of everything we deal with.
    Having said that, the pros and cons of having this has made lives not simpler but complex.

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