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The miraculous machine

chandigarh Updated: Jan 30, 2015 10:38 IST
Parambir Kaur
Parambir Kaur
Hindustan Times

I just talked to my elder brother residing in the US, to my heart's content, over the phone. It was almost like visiting him! Whenever I use this instrument like this, I cannot help praising it. This gadget enables you to reach out to your relatives, friends, markets or any other place for that matter, in no time, without actually going anywhere. When one puts the receiver down, one is rid of some worries, has become more knowledgeable or is just surrounded by a benign sense of wellbeing. The fact is that things have never been the same after this miraculous machine entered our lives.

Whenever I think of our life without the phone, I am particularly reminded of the day when my brother had to traverse a long distance just to deliver an urgent message to us. About three decades ago, having a phone was not the privilege of every household. During those days, one had to apply for a landline connection and wait for years before this magical device materialised. And finally when the invention by Alexander Graham Bell did arrive, it called for a celebration. Even the neighbours rejoiced as they could pass the phone number to their friends, relatives and whoever living at far-off places.

It reminds me of my friend Nirmal's predicament when her family got the phone after a long wait of seven years. I had not seen her for quite a few days. Curiosity got the better of me and I casually went to her place. And guess what she was busy with. She was playing a polite host to about four guests. The scene really surprised me as I had never known her to be so sociable earlier. I came to know that it was all due to the newly acquired 'covetable link'.

After seeing the guests off one by one Nirmal, heaving a sigh of relief, told me, "These days we have such an upset schedule. Irregular eating and sleeping hours really unnerve me." "But you were the most excited, at its arrival," I reminded her. "It is so true, but I wasn't able to foresee the nuisance it could turn into," she lamented. "I am realising that the safest bet would be to own this contraption only when everyone else around you already possesses it," I concluded after some pondering. But the comment only made Nirmal laugh heartily.

Now each item has its positive and negative points. Bell never kept his invention in his study. He believed that it might intrude upon his serious work. One wonders what he Bell would have said of the present day life after the advent of the mobile phone! But in spite of everything, one feels like agreeing with British author Virginia Woolf's assertion, "The telephone which interrupts the most serious conversations and cuts short the most weighty observations, has a romance of its own."

(Parambir Kaur is a Ludhiana-based writer)