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The death of phone decorum

The shrill ring of a friend’s cellphone broke the pin-drop silence that fell after Yuvraj Singh’s dismissal at duck in the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final. The call was from an unknown number, but he took it anyway.

entertainment Updated: Apr 16, 2011 02:11 IST
Damini Purkayastha

The shrill ring of a friend’s cellphone broke the pin-drop silence that fell after Yuvraj Singh’s dismissal at duck in the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final. The call was from an unknown number, but he took it anyway. It must be something very important to warrant an interruption at such a moment, right? Wrong. It was a bank, calling to ask if my friend wanted health insurance.



Stunned silence and choice abuses later, he hollered at the caller, “

Aapko sharam nahi aati

? At least consider the time before you call — there’s a World Cup semi-final on!”



Though later he felt bad about his outburst, I don’t think he overreacted at all. Promotional calls and bulk marketing SMSes have become a fact of life; we’ve accepted that and even found our own ways of blocking them mentally. But, off late, they’ve crossed all bounds of decency.



Just last night I got a message that said ‘TM-Buy property’ at 12.15am. Imagine being woken up on a weeknight to confront a random, nonsensical message. Did it make me want to jump up and invest in a Gurgaon plot? No. All I really wanted to do then was smash my phone into smithereens, preferably on the dealer’s head!



How things have changed. When we were kids, there was an unwritten code of telephone decorum. You never called someone between one and four in the afternoon, because the parents would be sleeping. You never left the dinner table to receive a call and it was absolutely unthinkable to call anyone after 9pm because it would be “too late”.



Then came cellphones and the code of polite society went out of the window. I can’t remember a single night in the past five years when I haven’t received a call after 11pm. Only, till about six months ago, it was always from very close friends. Now, if my phone beeps at night, I don’t know if it’s a bulk message asking me to support the latest cause of the month, a press release about some event or an automated call from a service provider.



Seriously, do these guys think that badgering an unsuspecting customer at the most unlikely moment is the only way to generate some brand recall? I mean, come on! If you spam my phone like a jilted lover, I’m not coming back to you — I’m more likely to have you hauled off to jail!



Corrigendum


The Baisakhi gala evening to be held at Sirifort auditorium this evening, as featured on this page in

HT City

edition dated April 15, stands postponed due to unavoidable reasons.