The way it was, the way it is

Samarjit Kambam *

Bala Hijam inaugurated the first 'Samsung Smart Phone Cafe, Lite' at Wino Bazar, Ukhrul on May 24 2014
Bala Hijam inaugurated the first 'Samsung Smart Phone Cafe, Lite' at Wino Bazar, Ukhrul on May 24 2014 :: Pix - Hueiyen Lanpao

Thank God! Mobile phones were hardly used during the starry-eyed days when I dated my girlfriend, not my half girlfriend but my full girlfriend, now my full wife. I consider myself lucky for me and my girlfriend were not drowned in the gaudy flood of mobile phones' aftermath of vulgar world as is apparently happening among the youngsters today.

You may be wondering whether I am an anti-mobile phone freak. No, No, I am not mobile phone's Van Halsing. In fact, mobile phones are so useful there is no vocabulary to describe its usefulness. It would be gross injustice or tantamount to committing a crime to say that mobile phone is a useless piece of crap. With easy access to communication and intense virtual connectivity, we can have face to face interaction and converse with our loved ones and relatives thousands of kilometres away or at the opposite end of the globe.

Mobile phone has virtually shrunk the world into a global village. Well, let me be a little more specific. You may be thinking that a lot of time is saved and a lot of communication quandaries are solved with the advent of mobile phones. No doubt, mobile phone is a technological marvel, but please believe me, technology means application of human's scientific knowledge and nothing can stop technology for human knowledge belongs to the world, but every technology comes at a price.

After a billion or so years, it is evident that the earth will be scorched by the sun and will become a dead planet. Prior to that technology acts as an impetus in making the earth's lifespan shorter. But it is technology again that will help mankind to survive in one way or the other when the earth becomes a dead planet with no life supporting biosphere. In fact, technology is a necessary evil and can become an angel or devil depending upon its virtuoso.

As technology always comes with a price, mobile phone sometimes become a devil's apprentice and turns out to be one of the sole reasons for many heartaches, change in behavioral pattern and attitude, less dignity, disrespect to elders, exponential increase in telling the untruth, getting more reclusive, unhealthy social life, huge virtual friends and followers but no real friends, pre-marital sex, teen pregnancy, lack of mutual trust, loss of self privacy, lost of trust, juvenile crimes and a plethora of other cons which outweigh the pros especially among youngsters. Am I wrong? If you think I am wrong, then you are wrong for I am not wrong.

Me and my girlfriend's magical years were very simple, accompanied by sincerity, honesty and trust for one another, our hearts like open books. Since we did not possess any mobile phones during those times and she didn't even have a landline connection either, the paramount importance on my part was to get closely acquainted to a friend from the near vicinity of my girlfriend's to act as a bridge between me and her. He would be my postman, my interlocutor, our mediator, our trouble shooter, my matrimonial broker.

Luckily he also turned to be one of her relatives. I also helped him many a times in whatever possible way I could upto the best of my capacity. During those yonder days, he was the only means of communication between me and my girlfriend and he always made sure that she comes out to meet me whenever we have a date.

Whenever I had a date I could hardly sleep the previous night for reasons I couldn't fathom maybe it was nervousness, maybe it was excitement or maybe due to too much rush of adrenaline in my bloodstream. I could hardly wait for the night to end and embrace the sunlight of the new day the day when I was supposed to meet my beloved. The day would begin with me getting fidgety, legs tremoring, having butterfingers and faster heartbeat with my brain working like a jammed traffic.

I would spend sufficient time, washing, shaving, bathing, changing, cleaning my bike, applying light cosmetics, deos and perfumes and would stand in front of the mirror thinking to myself "Not bad". During those yonder days I was extremely conscious about my attire and apparel. I would put on my clothes and see whether my pair of denims matched with the T-shirt, man-shirt or jacket and closely monitored whether the socks I was wearing matched my pair of snickers.

One fine sunny morning, on a date-full day, I set out from home and proceeded towards her locality and waited for her at the usual place where I used to pick her up. I waited for several minutes. The minutes then became hours. But I still hoped she would come out. One and a half hour had already gone by. I felt like a scapegoat by the roadside. Those commuting on the street were looking at me with curious eyes as if I were a simian from another planet or a dwarfed hungry godzilla.

I went to my interlocutor's house but he wasn't available. As standing there for too long caught the curiosity and fancy of many passersby of their locality, I started to look around in dismay. Nearby, a huge JCB engine was excavating earth from a swampy field. As a Plan-B, I also mingled with the onlookers and pretended to watch the hydraulic hands of the engine digging the earth. Unable to bear the pain of waiting I counted the number of the eels that came out of the earth as the big iron hand of the JCB unearthed the digged portions of the field.

About two and half hours had passed but still there was no sign of her. Furious, I directly drove towards her house. She was standing near the gate with red Dracula-ic eyes. Seeing me fume with anger she answered before I asked that by mistake she had sprayed perfume in her eyes. I barked, "You fool, perfumes are meant to be sprayed on clothes or hankies not on eyes". "I know" she replied and further continued "At first it didn't work so I lifted it up and looked closely and all of a sudden it sprayed right into my eyes". I forgave her but I felt like falling down from cloud nine to a swamp of muddy quick-sand for the rest of the day.

The first handset I ever possessed in my life was Motorola's F118 with an extremely small black & white screen. During that time there were no private service providers in Manipur so procuring a SIM from BSNL was a Herculean task. Many could not get one even if they possessed mobile handsets. Now-a-days its raining mobile phones of various kinds that fits everybody's budget and getting a SIM is a few minutes effort. The tag 'mobile phone' has become old school.

The buzzword now is "Smartphone" particularly with people of north eastern region using Chinese smartphones loaded with full throttled host of features over and above being 3G/4G enabled at costs aggressively low or 'unimaginable' in the Indian market. Gone are the days where everybody talked of Nokia, Nokia and more Nokia just like Colgate is to toothpaste and Surf is to detergent with the first generation of Nokia handsets as thick as Daniel Steele's novels and weighed almost half a kilogram.

Now such thick Nokia handsets have become the dinosaurs of mobile phones. From the top slot of the mobile phone chain, Nokia, a Finland brand has hit rock bottom as many smartphones, most particularly from China or in collaboration with China is available to the public having more features than Nokia's latest smartphones at one-third the price. Since the electronic world changes at an unprecedentedly fast pace, the public have realised that expending huge amounts on a world-renowned brand is really a waste of money as newer versions come up within three or four months.

Now it's the time to change your smartphone every six months at the longest otherwise you will be left behind in the race in this fast-paced world of technology. The way smartphones are being used by the youngsters has also become too rampant that it causes more harm than good. Now-a-days we can see young girls and boys glued to their big screen smartphones in busy places drowned in their perfect virtual world oblivious of the traffic and ambience and has become a public nuisance.

With powerful inbuilt configurations and apps smartphones have become information highways. Information comes in the form of texts, pictures and videos and honestly speaking information could be good, bad or ugly. If misused, this information overflow misinforms the youngsters thereby creating havoc to their lives, the most vulnerable ones being the teenagers.

There were instances where teenage girls preparing dinner in their very home were found preparing a grandeur dinner in their boyfriends' kitchen poised like married women within a very short notice of a few minutes. There were incidents where young girls who went out for marketing with their parents vanished 'pop' into thin air. The worried parents lodged FIRs to the police only to find out the very next day that their daughter had eloped with their daughter's 'to be groom'.

The youngsters have started sexting from texting. There was a time where holy matrimony took place at the middle stage of life of ladies and gents, but now with misuse of smart phones, it is in vogue for teenaged boys and girls to get married in a hustle as if the world were about to come to an end. Since young boys and girls are in a curious and experimental state with rush of sex hormones alongwith the desire to explore the physique of the opposite sex, they converse using vulgar words and exchange obscene short video clips and even expose their private body parts through smartphones.

Once that stage has been reached, the young boys and girls having affairs have no reluctance for physical intimacy and having sex matters as much as having hand-shakes. What a difference it is from our dreamy-eyed years where sex was meant only after marriage. In fact, my heart really sinks to find out innumerable obscene clips of young Manipuri boys and girls. Now the physical relation between a boy and a girl is not a complex matter anymore, they seem 24x7 vigilant in this regard as everything can be carried out in a jiffy as the ease of connectivity has made the situation of their likings pretty easier.

First and foremost reason why I consider myself lucky is that during those romantic days me and my girlfriend were free from the clutches of mobile phones. My intuition tells me that my girlfriend turned wife was a genuine, flawless, unblemished, untainted, chaste, unabridged version when it comes down to physical perspective by the time I married her. I had no extra heartache, mistrust discontentment or guilt except the hiatus of communication between us before I entered couple life.

I am glad that "smartphone babes" were non-existent during the youthful romantic days of my life.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on Febraury 02, 2015.

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