Today while heading out to meet a friend, I forgot my phone at home. I was barely ten minutes away from home when I realized this but decided not to go back.
Instead, this may be a blessing in disguise, I thought. Disconnect from the online world and re-connect with the real world, I told myself. I decided to take this as an exercise to try and enjoy the journey and the day without distractions like Emails, WhatsApp and Facebook. I figured this would also help reduce my dependency on the mobile phone and instead focus on real human interactions. As a writer, it would be a good experience, I thought. I’d spend my time people-watching, I decided. The actual fun started when I had boarded the train. I was in the ladies compartment, as always. Usually, mommies travel with their kids and that makes for some really interesting conversations. I was hoping for some angelic kids of my age, who’d like to play or talk to someone. Unfortunately, there weren’t any kids but only adults. I resorted to watching adults of my age then. To make things more interesting, I decided to give them my own backstories.
A young, bespectacled girl was neatly folding a multi-colored scarf. Meticulous and particular, she probably was a college student of psychology or mathematics, I decided. As per me, she had a strict mother who was a stickler for punctuality and insisted on being organized.
Another lady, who caught my attention, had an attractive handbag in shades of maroon and bronze. Fashion designer, I excitedly screamed in my head, looking at the cut motif floral design on her handbag. That bag has to be one that she designed herself, I told myself. I was about to ask her about it when another lady stepped forward and blocked my view. I looked at her irritably, and instantly disliked her white trousers and brown sandals. She was the nosy gossipy neighbor everyone had, I declared before turning my attention to another unsuspecting victim.
This lady was furiously noting something on a booklet. Aha, a writer, I thought gleefully, until I got a closer look. She was noting something in columns – numbers it seemed from where I stood. She didn’t stop to think and continued writing. I couldn’t see what she was writing but I dismissed her writing skills as non-existent. Instead, what she was writing was an assignment which was awarded to her as punishment, I decided. She is in school and the teacher punished her for not wearing spotless shoes, I told myself. Her punishment was to write ‘I shall wear clean shoes’ a thousand times. Clearly, she wasn’t smart enough to smear chalk to whiten her school keds. Serves her right, I smirked.
Yet another lady, standing not far from me, wore a long blue kurta with black slacks. Her hair was tied up neatly and attractively in an updo. With kohl-lined eyes, dangling light blue earrings, she looked attractive – casual but fashionable in her own way. Rebellious and thoughtful, I noted. She was, most certainly, a working professional, I presumed.
Realizing it would be difficult to remember all details, I decided to note them down. Just then I remembered I had no phone. Damn, I thought.
I gave up this exercise and hit upon another novel idea. To keep myself from getting bored, I decided to play a game of ‘Switch’ – If I had to exchange bodies with someone who would it be? I again turned my attention to my co-passengers. One lady, who had just boarded the train at the last stop, caught my attention. I liked her top and had almost decided I wanted to be her when she turned to face me. With a tummy larger than my own, there was no way I was switching places with her, I realized. As it is, it was hard reducing the size of my own tanker-sized belly; taking on a larger one would mean double the effort. So not worth the switch. My gaze moved along and stopped at another attractive lady. But, no, this one was too old. I turned to another girl. Too many freckles, I said. Another young lady came to view. Bleached hair.
I moved on to look for more desirable attributes. Each person I selected and scrutinized had some flaw or the other. Too little hair. Unruly hair. Too short. Eyes too small. Too thin. Eyes too big. Wasn’t there one real person who fit the description of a perfect body? Where was our country headed? Not even one with whom I could switch places? No even one! I was aghast. Finally, I accepted that nobody was perfect. (It’s a different matter altogether that I’m nobody!) I resigned myself to fate and decided to live with my own body. Too bad for those who don’t like it, I smirked.
After a while, I noticed they were staring at me – they being everyone else in the compartment. I was taken aback and felt like the single bone all dogs had their heart set on. This feeling remained until I realized they had been glaring at me for staring at them. Had they all assumed me to be this lecherous person who was staring at every woman in the compartment?! Tsk.. Tsk… Such judgemental people. I averted my gaze and stared at my near perfect hands. Let’s listen to some music, I thought. But of course, you guessed it. No phone. No music either!
Another idea came visiting – why not write a post about the increasing dependence on technology and how once in a while we should learn how to disconnect. After all, I had spent an entire 30 minutes without the phone. And I was managing pretty well. So, who better than me to preach about not letting your gadgets rule you.
Ideas came easily and I transformed them into wordy thoughts, filing away information in my brain to reproduce it later. Words flew seamlessly and the article actually started coming alive and taking shape in my mind. Taking it as another form of a memory improvement exercise I decided to commit them to memory.
YAY, I whooped in joy. I had managed without my phone so far. No constant pings, no spammy phone calls, no unwanted distractions – it was surprisingly easy to manage without it. I should write more about this, I told myself. But first I should record these thoughts, I thought happily; until I realized I needed my phone to make the recording too.
I shook my head and decided to give up all such memory retention exercises. Thankfully, I had reached my station and got down. I decided to call my friend to tell her I had forgotten my phone at home and that I would reach in another ten minutes. I realized I had her number saved on my phone, not in my memory.
Moving on, I reached our meeting point and found her waiting for me. We spent a fun-filled two hours, gorging on interesting gossip and sharing insipid food. We had tried a new restaurant and wanting to post a review online, I decided to take pictures of the restaurant and the food to include in my review. I groaned at the realization that I didn’t have my phone. By now, I had started to value its presence in my life more than I had in the morning. Not so much a blessing now!
On my way home, I was thrilled that I actually had managed to survive a day without the phone, even though I had noticed its absence barely a few hundred times.
The first thing my father said when I reached home was, “You forgot your phone at home.” Oh, really? I had no idea!