I recently got a message from my college friend Arnab, informing a bad news. Believe it or not, reading that message not only did I laugh but it also made me remember my good old college days. Those were the days, when none of us owned a mobile phone. I was just wondering how we managed to live a life then without one of these “models” in our pockets. And then as I went into the flashback, I got all nostalgic.
The year was 2002, somewhere around this time of the year…I was into my fourth semester of Engineering with the exams around the corner…I used to love the exams…be it internal or external….the prep time was when the gals in the department approached us guys all by themselves…it could be for either of the two things…one, they wanted us to help them with their studies or two, they wanted “the most probable questions, that would appear in the paper”…being a last bencher, I belonged to the second category…who called themselves the “blind-shooters” (one’s who guessed)!! 😀
I loved to guess-study…cos I believed in Einstein, who once said “Why know things, which are anyways found in the books?” and then maybe immediately put his tongue out…creating doubts in mortal minds, whether he was serious or joking…I never took/take geniuses for granted…especially when it is to our advantage!! To me, they mean what they say!! 😀
Ok…so anyways…it was only during these times that the gals remembered to approach us and send in signals to meet them alone (most times) or with their lousy gossiping group for some “short-cut methodologies” (read: knowledge transfer). 😉
It used to be fun…and then came in the mobile phones…damn…
It was our fifth semester, when a cell phone was first seen in our class. It was owned by a pretty lass, who happened to be on top of two happening lists…the “Guy’s Delight” list and the “Gal’s Plight” list. And that started the mobile mania as far as our class was concerned.
By the end of 2003, almost all the gals in class (and a few guys too) owned a cell phone. Meanwhile, I managed to get myself a small pocket sized telephone directory to note down all those numbers!! 😉
As a guy, it was pretty tough to convince my parents to buy me a cell phone…guess it was the same with the rest of the guys too. Dad being too practical would ask unanswerable questions like, “Why do you need a phone? You are always reachable on the hostel phone, during class hours or otherwise. Isn’t it?”…err…and mom would vary with replies like “Go, ask your dad” or “So what if the girls have got a cell, you are not one of them na?!” or “Ah, as if talking in person was not enough…now you wanna chat with gals on phone too?” and so on…
Not owning a mobile phone, had its own pros and cons.
Pros – I was not bothered about the “balance”…as balance till then for me, was only needed when it came to cycling…but now it seemed even the cell phones needed them. Also, every gal would freak out when they got a call from an unknown number…sometimes even I invested a rupee in coin booths, to freak them out!! 😉 By the way, this feeling wasn’t known to us who used the hostel phone…the operator always knew who called whom!! 🙂
Cons – Well…when the exams approached, the blind-shooters without cell phones were out of demand!! With text messages being dirt cheap or limitedly free, every question was now sent across within the 180 character text messages. And due to this, the whole fun behind “getting in touch” personally, was lost…forever. 😦
I don’t remember what reasons I gave and what expressions I made…or maybe I even showed them my disgusting little (but priceless) phone directory, but then in the summer of 2004 my dad finally agreed to buy me a cell phone and within no time, I was back in the reigning league of the blind shooters!! Though it was pretty tough, I finally learnt to “balance” myself too!!
Btw, when my sister joined her Engineering course in mid 2004, she didn’t ask for a cell phone…why would she ask when my parents gave her one, so that they could stay in touch with her? 🙄 I wanted to ask my parents, “Isn’t there a phone in her hostel?” but then I feared answers from dad like “Son, unlike you…blah blah” and from mom like “Go, ask your dad” et. al. 😀
Owning a mobile phone I learnt later, took its own toll….Gals never called, they gave only “missed calls”. I didn’t know or even imagine about something like that…as it never seemed to happen on my hostel phone. Initially when I first got missed calls, I didn’t even know they were purposefully done…it didn’t strike to me that I needed to call them back, so I used to wait for them to call me again (which seldom happened). Instead of calling again, they came and swore at me the next day and I didn’t understand why. 🙄
One of my very intelligent friends, told me that “A missed call is not simply missed. It is wantedly missed. You have to call back, when you get a missed call unless you want them to come and swear at you” but he didn’t tell me that the missed call game was only applicable to gals.
I loved the concept so much that I thought it would be fun…so one fine day I gave a missed call to a gal. When she didn’t call me back over the next half hour, I texted her asking “Why didn’t you call me? I gave you a missed call no?” and instead of replying back she gave me a missed call. As per my intelligent friend’s advice, I called her back and she sweared at me for giving her a missed call…”!! I never gave a missed call to a gal after that day…as her swear still echoes in my ear drums. 😀
Post-paid wasn’t in then yet, so I had a pre-paid connection and my plan had like 100 free local messages per day for which I was charged a rupee…And I realize only now, that they charged me a rupee and still called it free. 🙄
To begin with I didn’t know how to send messages in short form…so I used to type “Oh ok like that, ya thats great…ok then lets meet up sometime…what say? By the way, what you doing now?” instead of “K, tats gr8, lets meet up? whtya upto?”…!!
Eventually I learnt it that when we send messages (ok fine…msgs), we don’t beat around the bush…but we say it straight…I understood this very well when my roommate got a msg from his girlfriend of 3 yrs saying “found some1 betta…am breakin our gugu”…he was devasted…all he had till then was this gugu (gugu was what they both described their relationship as)…and he was now infact in deep “gugu” (read: shit)!!
Learning the art of sending short text messages brought in more serious problems…the first draft of my project report was so influenced by the “SMS lingo” that my project guide was almost into tears. Apart from usual truncation of normal spellings, new abbreviations such as LOL, LMAO and ROFL were found all over the report. Though I got messages with those terms, I never really bothered to know their expansion…worst case, I didn’t even realize they were abbreviations to begin with. To me, those were fancy messaging terms used instead of full stops. 😆
Looking back now, it all seems so humorous but then learning through mistakes always makes one look like a moron. But then again there are some characters who never learn. And this I realized when Arnab, who bought his first cell phone almost at the same time as I did sent me a msg last week which read “My grandpa died last night buddy. LOL 😦 “.