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.