New Delhi: Ankit Varma
pores over his worn out, slightly yellowed diary, tracks his own
smudged handwriting for a number and thumbs in the digits on his
For those glued to the cellphone - and, mind you, there are over
850 million such connections in India already -- it's hard to
fathom why anyone would not want to use the digital device when it
only seems to be getting cheaper, snazzier and better.
But in this day and age when our dependence on the cellphone has
crossed all boundaries, adding to our vocabulary words like
nomophobia (read: no-mobile-phobia), there are a determined few
who buck the trend.
"It interrupts my thought process. The ability to think deeply and
concentrate on a subject," says Varma, a writer.
"The landline and e-mail work well enough for me. I don't need a
constant distraction in the garb of being tech-savvy," Varma, who
parted with his Nokia two years ago, told IANS.
In this day and age when smart phones have changed the way we
work, interact and consume information, when any idle moment is
immediately replenished with a futile SMS, when a mobile theft is
dramatically mourned, there are a few committed to their privacy.
In this day and age when dead batteries lead to withdrawal
symptoms, when even bathrooms are not spared the screaming
ringtones, when deals are closed on the move, when trains, streets
and parks are filled with a thousand clones happily chatting to
themselves, there are a few who refuse to bow to technology.
Incredulous as it may seem, there are people who survive without
mobile phones, and happily too.
While distraction is one of the biggest problems of the mobile
phone, self-reliance is no less a casualty.
"I have friends who turn pale if someone plays a prank on them by
hiding their phones. They don't remember their parents' number,
friends' number, birthdays, it's as if you've mortgaged your
memory to a device," says Janaki Ramkumar, 23.
"I don't feel the need for a personal phone. After all, people
have lived all these years without one. It can be done even now,"
Ramkumar, a student in Chennai, told IANS.
Then there are those who believe the use of cellphones make people
less appreciative of other's time.
"No one takes your time for granted if you are not carrying a
phone. No one calls you half an hour before the scheduled time to
meet and says 'sorry, I am running a little late'. They try to be
a little more punctual," says Meera M., a web designer in Delhi.
Adds Vinay Dhamankar, an architect in Mumbai, "I am not an ATM
machine available 24/7. I need my space, I like being unavailable
Then there's the doing of scientists who have pointed towards a
definitive connect between tumours and cellphone radiation,
creating enough scare among a few.
"You can't ignore such reports, there's obviously some truth in
them. I have given my office number to my friends and family and
bought headphones to take calls on mobiles, which I take only in
emergency," says Leena Aiyer, an interior designer.
"My dependency on mobile phones has reduced a lot. A little
planning, like making all necessary calls before leaving home,
calling my mom before leaving office, goes a long way in reducing
usage. I hope to chuck it soon," said the 35-year-old.
But not all have been able to observe this technological celibacy
without succumbing to temptations. Take for example Himanshu who
treaded the landline path for three years while preparing for the
civil services, only to give it up at the crucial moment.
"Though it was 2003 then and not every Tom, Dick and Harry had
one, I still felt I was missing out on something essential. I
started using it just before my preliminary exams...you see, not a
very wise decision," says the IAS-aspirant-turned-journalist,
laughing to himself.
"I can't think of giving it up ever again. The profession I am in
just won't allow it," Himanshu told IANS.
Azad Khan, a student in Pune, echoes similar views.
"It's absurd to deny yourself something as basic as a phone. I
mean, forget the privacy and self-reliance part, you can't ignore
its benefits. Imagine, you've met with an accident, are stuck in a
jam, caught in a sticky situation...what do you do?" Khan says.
To each his own, but people like Ankit Varma and Vinay Dhamankar
would not have it any other way.
(Mohita Nagpal can be
contacted at email@example.com)