Dialling Despair

Dialling Despair

Mobile phones have made travelling by train noisier than ever before. Cell phones do not stop ringing and commuters do not stop talking. Those of you who travel regularly by suburban trains have surely encountered co-passengers talking loudly into their phone about big business deals. And it’s not just the people talking loudly that causes annoyance, it’s also the weird ring tones based on the latest Bollywood hits. What’s more, each time there’s ring or a beep, which happens invariably almost every 10 seconds, everybody around who carries a cell phone checks to see if it was their cell phone that is buzzing.
Cell phone woes do not end here. If you happen to carry a cell phone and commute by train, be discrete about it or someday soon, you may have to lend your phone to a fellow traveller to make a call or two.

The other day a lady colleague, a Thane resident, was travelling back from work in a Thane-bound local. The train came to a halt before Kanjurmarg Station – the usual two-minute halt for signal, people thought.   But when the train refused to move even after 20 minutes, discomfort among people grew. Seeing trains moving freely on other tracks, some began to speculate that the train had probably developed a technical snag and would therefore probably not move for a long time. It was nearing 10 pm and our colleague, who was in the ladies compartment, was approached by an anxious looking young college student. She looked very reluctant at first, but finally managed to request our friend for allowing her to make a call using her cell phone. Our friend obliged and the girl called her folks to inform them about her being stranded in the train. She also asked her father to pick her up from the station as it would probably become late by the time she’ll reach Thane. No sooner did she finish talking than the train started. After a couple of minutes, the girl again approached our friend, wanting to make another call – this time, to tell her folks that the train has started and they need to bother to pick her up. Our friend accommodated her second request too.

When it rains, it pours. As if kindness is written all over her face, the next day our colleague once again received a request to allow a call to be made from her cell phone – this time from an elderly lady. Compassionate that she is, our friend helped yet again. The lady spoke for less than 30 seconds in which she informed the person at the other end (speaking in Gujarati) that she’ll be reaching her destination in half an hour. After the call, the lady bowled our friend over by asking her how much she should pay for the call. She even offered the standard three-rupees-per-call to our bewildered friend who, politely declined, trying her best not look embarrassed.

Modern technology has its uses – it’s made a huge difference to our lives. But then roses always come with thorns.

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