Spectacular Messaging Service | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Spectacular Messaging Service

I read yesterday that the SMS has turned 20, though it became universal only 10 years ago. An entire decade of using thumbs and forefingers instead of the vocal chords! I hadn't realised that it had been that long. Raji P Shrivastavawrites

chandigarh Updated: Dec 13, 2012 10:41 IST
Raji P Shrivastava

I read yesterday that the SMS has turned 20, though it became universal only 10 years ago. An entire decade of using thumbs and forefingers instead of the vocal chords! I hadn't realised that it had been that long.


It seems like just yesterday when the mobile phone reached our hands as a technological marvel set to revolutionise the world. While cell phone became the game-changing gadget in India, the short messaging service (SMS) turned out to be the communication whizzkid that bridged both the generation gap and the occupational divide.

It was seen as "cool" to be using the SMS instead of telephoning somebody. While a telephone call could disturb, texting was discreet and non-intrusive. For cooing lovebirds, it became the secret message service: no need for pigeons and peacocks to carry love-letters, nor a go-between who could and often did blackmail both the sender and the recipient eventually.

We expressed congratulations and condolences likewise, in 140 precise characters, sans flowery prose or the compulsion to be correct grammatically. We could greet friends on their birthdays, locate people at crowded events or alert young ladies about prospective grooms: "Take a good, long look at the guy in the maroon shirt and beige trousers; he's the one!" Or crib about in-laws without anyone else ever knowing, unless the recipient herself gave the game away.

Scatter-brained texters are dangerous to themselves and indeed to all mankind. A young corporate executive once typed out a text on the SMS cribbing about his boss, but sent it to the boss herself by mistake. The sender of the misdirected message had to seek help from several sources to broker peace between the two. Nobody wanted to get involved. Some advised the offender rightly to apologise fervently to the wronged party. Unsurprisingly, the two are even more at loggerheads with each other today.

My maid texts me to take a day off: "Mam, i sic, pl no work." The dhobi tells you to pick up your ironing: "Kapde ready". The greengrocer considers it a smart option: "Nainital aamle, Shimla apple @ Jassi Fruit Store." School managements remind you: "PTA on Saturday, 13th at 10am." Discount offers and library books of choice, the arrival of new babies and funeral announcements-the ever-versatile SMS is able to send updates without getting into unnecessary detail or irritating debate.

A change of address or a change of heart: both are conveyed with great efficiency and equal lack of emotion. The recipient has options too. In matters of the heart, for instance, one may say: "I didn't receive any such SMS!" and both can blame it on the network. They can then either revive the troubled romance or slug it out in person thereafter.

"Your favourite gymnasium is closed for maintenance this weekend," brings great cheer, especially if it is followed by another, "Gang, let's meet at Barbecue Nation at 7pm, don't say NO." Texters would prefer an SMS pack to a face pack or a six pack any day. What better way to minimise work, optimise time and stay connected?

The writer can be reached at raji_1992@yahoo.co.in