One fine morning, my phone rings. The woman on the other side says, “Aap kaun?”. While this is enough to annoy me, I still try to keep patience with, “Aapko kis se baat karni hai?”. She would persist, “Aap kaun?”. Since this is NOT the first time that I heard this question from a stranger over phone, I don’t even bother. I just cut the phone. I mean, for God’s sake, if you called me, you should know who I am. If not, politely ask who you are looking for. Why would I – the receiver of the call – furnish you- a total stranger- with details of my name? Don’t you know who you called?
And this is one of the several occasions when I am forced to consider a question: Do we really deserve a mobile phone? I have seen and observed a lot of people – all of them educated – badly lacking the basic manners to use their mobile phone. The reason why I am discussing ‘educated’ people is because they are the ones who raise much hue and cry about sophistication, not the illiterate ones. For that matter, my uneducated grandmother is far more sophisticated when it comes to operating her mobile phone.
I shall start with ring tones. Ring tones, for a lot of people, are a big deal. Unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. Since long, mobile phones have become a status symbol too, the ring tone, being a great way of showing off. The louder the ring tone, the better. It’s strange that quite a few of my favourite Hindi movie songs annoy the hell out of me when played very loudly on a mobile tone. Sometimes, the songs in a place like CHEM campus are almost embarrassing. A few of our CHEM students’ favourites include ‘Dard-e-disco’, ‘Jaadu hai nasha hai’ and the latest I heard left me almost speechless – ‘Sheila’! Seriously, what were you thinking? Worse, if you forget to keep your phone on the silent mode inside class, BINGO!
Alas, as I had said in my last blog, this hardly embarrasses them. Yes, it does embarrass others. Even at places of worship, people wouldn’t want their phone to keep on a reverent silence. It must shout like their own minds that refuse to listen to the Creator even in HIS domain. My father, who is also a priest, immediately rebukes the person who forgets to switch off his phone inside Church. He believes at least the Church should be a ‘no-phone-zone’.
Caller tunes are an innovation that I seriously think we were happy without. In a real bad mood, I call a friend for some urgent help. For the next few minutes, I hear an item song I hate the most. Do you think it would uplift my mood? In fact, now I take it as a parameter to judge people. If you set a caller tune on your phone, you are an attention-hungry person who tries to snatch it without delay. I am sure my Psychiatrist acquaintance would agree with me.
The other day I was taking a revision session. While I gave students some time to solve a few questions, I saw a boy with a phone kept close to his ear, speaking in a hushed tone to his friend. I had to remind him the rule of ‘silent mode’ when inside a class. I also had to make him realize that what he thought as a ‘hushed tone’ was loud enough as ‘bad manners’ in a classroom.
In another class, when I corrected a student not to take an incoming call inside classroom, he said it was an emergency. I told him that if he knew he would have an emergency call, why was he attending the class in the first place? He should have been at the place of emergency, helping his family. This may have been a harsh way of dealing with an emergency situation whose gravity can never be judged by a parameter, but I am referring to this tendency. Would having a mobile phone solve all our emergency problems? May be a few times. But not always. This also makes me ponder: if this class was set in 1990s, and there was an emergency, had a lack of mobile phone wreaked havoc?
Back to my topic, phone, for many is a status symbol. But for status, you need some class. What most people don’t realize is that having an expensive mobile phone but displaying lack of phone etiquettes shows a dearth of intellect and a dearth of class. A person of class wouldn’t want to flaunt his/her costly phone. He or she wouldn’t want to ‘shout’ through its ring tone that he/she has such a phone. Such a person realizes that such an expensive phone looks cheap when misused.
Get smart. Embrace some phone etiquettes. You are going to make your career in a corporate, ruthless world, where you will be judged severely even for little things. Here’s a low-down on a few phone etiquettes:
- If YOU called, introduce yourself first. Then ask politely the name of the receiver.
- Before setting any ring tone or caller tone, ask yourself: Do I really want this so badly? If yes, is this very loud? Choose a tone that you can hear but that doesn’t make noise and may disturb others.
- Keep phone on a silent mode when required. Places like classroom, seminar hall, religious ceremony, places of worship etc deserve respect. Show some.
- If you have an expensive mobile phone, refrain from flaunting through a loud ring tone. There are other subtle and ‘classy’ ways of doing so. How about simply sharing with your friends that you bought such a phone? Simple and sober.
- Avoid any song on a caller tone. You never know if the caller would like the song or not. You will lose face.
- Speak in an even and low tone while talking over phone, at least at a public place. This is good manners.
- If your phone rings in a meeting, cordially step outside and receive the call.
People, if you think I am expecting a bit too much from you, you are right! I am. But for your own good. I bet, later you will thank me.