Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It’s just too complicated

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It’s just too complicated

By: Shefali Tripathi Mehta

She’s taller but that’s not why I have to make do with the hand-me-downs. It’s because she’s smarter. She learns of and adapts to up-to-the minute technology too quickly to stay awed with what she owns.

This is especially applicable to life-saving devices. Topmost on the list — the mobile phone. The doting father believes getting her the latest is just keeping her grey cells recharged.

But all grouse on that account aside, this way, I too get an upgraded version of the cell phone, year after year. The one she has no use of. The nerdy, geeky genes that were mutated to mute in me have resurfaced daringly unmuted in her.

But last birthday, perhaps just to make me feel like one of them, the significant other and the daughter gave me an iphone. iphone to me till then was no more than bad English for ‘my-phone’. Plus it was heavier, difficult to hold, difficult to pocket, difficult to carry, especially in those little colour-coordinated clutches I so covet. But this was just the horn on its head.

Soon I discovered that it had a life of its own and no intention whatsoever of being at my fingertips. It always called the wrong people. And always texted wrong messages to the right people. Touch and go! Oh stop! I’d shout and plead, ready to run after some invisible cord that could be pulled apart. ‘It’s touch ONLY, does not respond to voice commands,’ I’d be admonished by irritated voices.

But even before it did all this, there was the problem of moving my contacts from the lighter, handier, friendlier, familiar old one to the bad English one. The two heads came together again. I hovered, trying to involve myself in what was after all the problem with MY phone. There are compatibility issues, they discussed. I pulled up my chair.

Finally, they were taking interest in the affairs of the world. Poor dears looked so careworn mulling over the marital discord of the newlyweds next door. I nodded in support and leaned closer. Such propensity needed positive reinforcement.
But soon it was all Spanish again. And I realised it was the phone they were referring to. But they are not to live together, not even be in the same handbag, I intervened. Shush! Shush! mother/wife, they were afraid the walls grown geeky with them would hear. An entire weekend was spent opening and staring into two and three cell phones, computer screens, googling, researching, trials and… obviously ERROR! They lost and could not ‘retrieve’ my contacts!

I cried rivers. Then shouted at them. Then stopped speaking with them. But none of it brought back my contacts and so I gave up being normal. First, I returned their present. They could have it for all it was worth. Bad English wasn’t such a concern with them, anyway. Then promptly, I wrote an email to Dear ALL, asking them for their phone numbers. I tried to hide my geeklessness behind the freshly acquired ‘not retrievable’, ‘incompatible’, ‘no back-up’ and suchlike.

Now keying in a large number (as I had unwittingly expected) of names and numbers into the old reliable would have been a massive task so I wrote to Dear ALL to text me their names.

Smartypants that I am, I had clearly imagined how this would work. I would receive a text message from a ‘number’, open it to find the sender’s name, and save the number in that name. So simple… it wasn’t. People just emailed me back. And not their cell phone numbers. Their names!

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