My husband received this sms last evening from a client who has recently moved abroad – HI (NAME SPELT WRONG) HW R U? Nice ‘thinking of you’ message – except 1. this was not written by a 13 year old, as you may have immediately thought (as I did – what with the all caps and the spelling and the awful HW R Us – but let me not get started on that one) 2. it was sent at 7.45 on a sunday evening.

My issue is with the latter. What is it with people who assume that having a call phone automatically puts you in the market for unwanted communication at any time of the day – and night? Another of my husband’s colleagues (ya, he does make friends with some strange people) called him last week at 11.30 in the night to discuss an issue that even he did not think was that important… (I know this because he cheerfully signed off when it was suggested to him that this discussion could happen at a more decent hour)… I also know that people carelessly pass around my mobile number to anyone who cares to ask them – it does not occur to them to ask me or suggest that the third person asks me directly…

I understand that in India, concepts like privacy are not such a big deal – but it seems to me that with the cell phone, people have lost all perspective. It is not ok to send me sms forwards (sometimes just as a way of ‘keeping in touch’). Or call at any odd hour because something has gone wrong at work – surely it can wait till the next morning…

How did people cope before the mobile phone became so popular? How did we live without this need to be communicado all the time? And please, do not even suggest to me that if you want a mobile phone, then you must be prepared for this. NO. This argument has a very shiv senaesque logic about it – if you wear a mini skirt, then you must be prepared to be molested.

I have a mobile phone for my convenience. So that I can keep in touch with people I know – friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances to whom I have given the number – and they with me. Within reasonable boundaries of time and space… And not so that Atal Bihari Vajpayee can call me and request me in his gruff voice to vote for the BJP this time… (ok, I am sure he did not personally dial the number, but what the heck) Or for HW R U messages… I am fine, thank you. And you?

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