Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mobile Musings

Most of the times your phone rings when you least desire. In the good old days of landlines there were chances (or option ?) of missing the call. Not any more. With the mobile phones around, if the call is of urgent nature or the caller is important to you, you would surely answer it, regardless of whatever act you are in. Given the fact that caller line identity is displayed on the screen, even if you did not answer the call, a missed call would be displayed and you would be expected to call back as soon as you could. Though now even the landlines are giving the facility of caller line identification, yet, its very feature of being fixed at a certain place has its own (dis ?) advantages. Most of the corporates have a thumb rule that cellular phones of some key appointments will not be switched off unless required by the regulation of a particular place like aircrafts or high security areas etc. My phones, mobile as well as landline, keep ringing on 24 x 7 basis owing to the nature of my job. Some times I would take a call while shaving and the shaving cream will dry up before the caller hung up.

At my previous place of posting a very senior colleague would invariably ring me up if he ran into any trouble at the place of his out station visit. Once, when he had gone to Chennai to attend some meeting, his car met with an accident on way to a temple in the morning. Another person who was also traveling with him in the same car got injured. He straightway rang me up at Delhi. I was driving to the office. Seeing his number on my mobile screen, though driving, I immediately attended the phone. He told me about the accident and asked me to arrange help. Using mobile phone while driving attracts a hefty fine and at Delhi the traffic cop won’t even stop you to hear your explanations. He would simply note down your car number and the ‘charge slip’ would reach your residence after a few days, requiring you to pay the fine immediately. However, realising the gravity of the situation I pulled up to a side on the busy Shanti Path road in Chanakyapuri, hunted for the number of head of the Chennai office and informed him about the accident. The help was immediately arranged.

Another peculiarity about mobile phones is their roaming facility. Whenever you go out of station with your mobile phone on roaming you have to be careful while answering a call to avoid roaming charges. The person ringing from your station would not know that you were out of station as it would be a local call for him or her. You might get petty and unimportant calls like " I am coming to the office late sir (oops!! sorry, I forgot that you were on leave), calls by young marketing executives of various Banks, Insurance firms, Hotels etc or even wrong numbers, the caller being ignorant of the fact that you were enjoying the holidays at Shimla, Mussoori, Darjeeling or elsewhere. It may not be easy to inform every one about your leave if you are part of a department with large number of employees, leaving apart other callers as mentioned above. The same goes with the global roaming. Once, when I had gone to Paris to attend a seminar at Bank of France, I had got global roaming activated on my mobile phone for the duration of the trip without any extra charges, courtesy Hutch. My aim was to keep in touch back home through SMS only, in which case it would not attract any roaming charges. I had taken Delhi - Paris flight, which reached there in the morning. Another colleague was to come from Bombay whose flight was to reach after an hour or so. Since we were booked in the same hotel I decided to wait for him at the airport itself. As I was waiting at Charles De Gaule airport, suddenly my cellular phone came alive. I saw the display. It was from the same senior colleague from Delhi office. He wanted me to make some arrangements at Delhi as he was calling from some place out of Delhi. I could guess that he did not know where I had received his call. Since the job was of urgent nature, I did not feel it appropriate to tell him at that point of time that I was in Paris and that he should contact some body else. Instead I contacted another colleague at Delhi, got the job done as desired and then informed him of the same and also disclosed that I had reached Paris. Although my travel programme had been routed through him, but, he might not have remembered that I had left the previous evening. He was kind enough not to ring me up during the rest of my trip. Later at London, I got a call from a lady calling from New Delhi again that if I stayed in their hotel for two nights, I would be eligible for a lucky draw and could win a trip to london. I politely told her, "No thank you Ma'm, I am already enjoying the cruise ride in the Thames river in Central London."

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