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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Luck of The Draw

I suppose it happens to everyone once in a while. I might even concede, reluctantly though, that it may be happening to some more frequently than to  others. But I am convinced that it does not happen with the same metronomic and irritating regularity and in as many different ways and situations as it happens to me. In this respect I must belong to Chance's carefully chosen few. 
This quasi philosophical rumination revolves around the ubiquitous mobile phone. No, I am not referring to one of that complicated 3G contraptions enabled to take videos, download GBs of music, games etc or allows you to tweet,email or post in Face Book or access your bank/demat accounts or what not. I am not scared of such monsters at all simply because I do not go anywhere near those things and have placed layers and layers of firewalls between them and myself. I also know that most owners of such contraptions do not use even 10% of the stated capabilities. For them the price (and the social status attached to the ownership) is the Unique Buying Proposition. (UBP-Copyright pending)

What I  am  referring to here is the ordinary, theft resistant (because of its cheapness)  basic 2G version  which allows you to receive and make calls and send an occasional sms. Even such versions have some 'undesirable' features like organiser, radio etc which however do not harass you if you leave those functions alone. Even these simpletons pack enough potential energy to torment you in ways unimagined and  'unthought' of. First among the torments this little monster revels in, is what provoked the caption of this blog posting. 

The caption could have been anything , say throw of the dice, turn of the cards,the way the cookie crumbles or if you insist on Ottapalam slang 'പെരച്ചന്‍ കുടുങ്ങല്‍'.But the extreme threat the contraption poses is brought out more vividly by a reference to the draw which usually has some unpleasant consequences if you call wrong or are too slow.

I am not a compulsive mobile caller nor am I in anyone's frequent caller list. There was a time when more calls for my wife than for me used to come to my mobile. I have since solved the problem by buying her an equally cheap phone with the added precaution of a pre-paid sim card, thus avoiding nasty month end surprises. So much so, if a couple of calls come to my mobile or I make one or two calls in a day, you can reasonably assume that the call traffic  is above par. And there being 15 to 16 hours in a day, excluding the unearthly hours when only ghosts or Prahlad would call, one would expect the phone to ring only when you are  relaxing at home or strolling leisurely  in the Vadakkunathan maidan or some such convenient moment. Well, most times anyway, as calls are few and the period these can  be spaced out long enough. No Sir, that is when Murphy's 'mobile laws' takes over.

" If you dislike your mobile ringing while you are pissing, that is when it will ring."
" If your mobile is ringing, you must be trying to get into a crowded bus"
" If you forget to put your mobile on silent mode, it will ring more shrilly.".

The universality of these laws are yet to be tested through statistical sampling but as I said earlier I am one of Chance's favourites. Decades ago, when working in branches where the petite bourgeoisie masquerading as clerical (working) staff generally believed that working for one's salary is a decadent  trait, the Branch Manager might have to post the General Ledger once in a while or check  a ledger occasionally. The day I am posting or checking  the ledger, the last, previous posting will be on the last line of the page, forcing one to summate and carry over the summations to the next page along with account headings etc. It is quite similar to the extension of Murphy's law on window cleaning. "It is always on the other side".  

In an age long gone by ( how many billion years ago was it?) you got on very well without the little tyrant. No longer though. Days in and days out you tote it along and you might not miss its services except for the usual interruption to your  urine discharge. But the day you forget to carry it, all hell will break loose. Your wife's frantic but futile efforts to reach you to remind you to purchase some essential ingredient for the witch's brew she plans to  make to surprise you, will create a depression in the domestic atmosphere leading to  heavy turbulence. This however is not an altogether unmitigated disaster and could even be counted among your limited  blessings. But there could be calamities too like  when your friend from out of town cannot reach you to solicit your help in polishing off the Scotch his son-in law brought from abroad. 

Besides the unexplained connection between your mobile and the fly of your trousers, like the cry of the kalan kozhi and the accompanying  news of death, there are umpteen other ways the little villain can torment you. In your official situation, when the land line was the only connection between you and the bloated egoists whiling away their time in administrative offices, you could always avoid attending to the phone by saying that you were on inspection or some such thing. That is just not possible now. They can catch you on the mobile wherever you are to convey such nationally and institutionally important news like their daughter travelling by train and her delicate stomach which can handle only curd rice made at home. You are forced to buy a packet of curd rice from the Railway Restaurant, repack it and hand it over to her with a solemn assurance that it has been specially prepared by your wife 'with more than ordinary care'.

Some of you, my readers may feel that I might be a Calamity Charlie and the misfortunes which never come alone are not accompanied by or attributable to the usually inanimate mobile phone. I assure you, you are wrong. I am not particularly prone to mishaps except where a mobile is involved. Nor do I neglect the omens. I may not be seeing such auspicious signs like  a cow shitting or the local prostitute coming my way when I emerge out of my house on an errand or for a leisurely walk. Nor do coucals exit to one's right like they did for Kuchelan on his way for the 'Aid Kuchelan Consortium' meeting with Krishna . But on the other hand, I do not see any 'lone' brahmin either. Usually I see some 'comrade' bird with red plumage  which is listed  as the very best omen in കാറല്‍ സംഹിത (വ്യാഖ്യാതാവ്: ഏലംകുളം ശങ്കരന്‍ നമ്പൂതിരിപാട്).These migratory birds exit only to the left in the best revolutionary manner  unlike coucals. But the unexplained, unnerving trysts with my  mobile continue without any let up.

As regards the mobile-pissing conundrum, you may wellask why not allow the phone to ring while one completes voiding one's bladder.One can always call back. It is a very reasonable question. I have tried several times to let the mobile continue ringing while I concentrated on emptying my bladder, while ensuring at the same time, by some deft handling of the exit tube, that the reluctant drips do not stain my trousers or wet my toes . 

But such is the state of revolutionary camaraderie in our society, even that is not a choice left to you. Some solicitous good Samaritan standing near you will poke you on your rib cage and invite your attention to the ringing mobile which all but the profoundly deaf can hear. You have to reluctantly and prematurely discontinue your strenuous effort at voiding your bladder (against all canons of Ashtangahrudayam) to attend to the mobile under the watchful eyes of your enemy of the moment. I have often thought of requesting such persons to hold on to my tool for a second so that I can attend to the mobile without interrupting an equally important task. I have not done it so far as it might prove to be one way of speeding up a localised  bloody uprising. I may, one of these days.    



  1. My role in averting many of the said local uprisings has been no mean as I have doggedly refused to divulge your mobile no to a few frivolous seekers. That the person got it from some other contact and is one of your tormentors is a different matter.
    Though I find no use for the instrument now, save for mobile/internet banking, I’m delighted to see the Bengali labourer chatting away with his wife and kids back home with no thought about the cost. And this humble low end instrument has become his portable music system also.
    I do get an occasional pesky call which I avoid taking, with no dearth for excuses. I recently switched over to pre paid tariff thereby saving a few hundred rupees a month, which I was paying hitherto purely for the luxury of holding the instrument. No presumptive loss , this!

  2. Ram Mohan to raju

    Enjoyed reading ur wonderful piece on the mobile & ur voiding
    attempts. Pl keep writing & posting.

  3. Janaradhanan Menon to raju

    Your swapnalokam expositions are simply great. Because of swollen eyes during the last whole week, I could read the mails today only. - an epitome of what a mobile phone is all about.-- a wonderful diction ( save the pissing part of the contents ) and an essay of facts.-- most of the users of this glorified device would agree. May be a few highly snobbish guys and almost all the upstarts differ. But the truth stays.- it has a pronounced utility value- nothing more than that.
    A retired person's woes are mostly stuffed in one's own mind- wherever he/she goes. , they follow them. It all depends on one's own disposition. Wherever we are, a lot of things around us could cheer us up. Expecting more of swapnalokam series.
    with regards.


  4. Mobile phone users are irritating when they fail to exercise discretion and think the world needs to know their business. Sometimes, this can backfire!!!

    After a busy day, he settled down in his train from VT for a quick nap as far as his destination at Kurla, when the chap sitting near him hauled out his mobile and started up:
    "Hi darling, it's Arvind, I'm on the train - yes, I know it's the 6.30 not the 4.30 but I had a long meeting - no, not with that floozie from the Admin department, but with the boss; no darling you're the only one in my life - yes, dear, I'm sure, cross my heart" etc., etc.
    This was still going on after 10 minutes, when the young woman opposite, driven beyond endurance, yelled at the top of her voice, "Hey, Arvind, turn that bloody phone off and come back to bed!!"
    Rest is history !