Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trrrrring... Trrrring...

The penetration of mobiles into the nook and corner of the country amazes me no doubt. People get jittery, anxious, restless if they leave their mobile phones behind. Today, as I was reading this post, being the usual self I am, went into a nostalgic walk yet again down memory lane to recaptulate about the black, heavy telephone.

A pista green phone was the cynosure of our visitors' eyes back in mid 80s. We had got it from our abroad return. Back then, it was looked upon as a very 'advanced' phone - the only reasons being that it was a coloured one and had a key pad instead of the circular dial. Discussions would crop up as to how having such a phone would invite levying of an extra fee from the Telephones Department and so we had it covered with a cloth most of the time (how silly!).

Ofcourse the regular phone was the heavy black phone with a jarring trrrring trrrring ringing sound (ringing 'tone' would not apply or was not in vogue then). [Digression: During one of the "Pattimandrams" chaired by Dindigul I.Leoni many years back, he took a dig at the song "Telephone mani pol siripaL ivaLaa" (from the movie 'Indian') leaving it to the imagination of the audience as it how it would sound if a girl were to laugh which sounds like trrrrringggg trrrringgg. Obviously, what Vairamuthu would've had in mind then while penning the lyrics, was the sound of the new phones which somewhat relates to loud giggling]

A person had to be extra careful not drop the receiver onto his/her foot lest it should break - the foot I mean! And there was no tone dialing (or speed dialing). Each swirl of a number had a taka-taka-tak... echoing effect and no... there was no 'redial' option either on such dials. One just had to meticously keep rotating the dial, thereby testing not just the patience but the strength of the index finger as well!

Once, when I visited relatives in Cuddalore, I was amazed to see that the phones there did not even have the dial. Becoming desperately curious, I wanted to know how it worked. Well, simple... you just had to pick up the phone, a person on the other end would ask for a number and you would be connected! But again, no guarantee that the person-on-the-other-end would answer you right away. I seldom felt comfortable talking through such connections as I felt, without an iota of doubt, that my conversation was being tapped. Cuddalore had just 3 digit phone numbers in that 'era'.

An upheal task was to book a trunk call and you would have to thank God if you were lucky enough to have your call placed within a few hours. The process started with calling the trunk booking number, mentioning the place and the phone number, then the person gives you a tracking number. Then you wait, wait, wait! Lets say you book a trunk request at 9 pm, you might get a call by 11 pm - pretty impressive huh? And you thought the other person was talking from a well? No! its a trunk call remember? No wonder the oldies bellow with all their energies when it comes to talking over a phone. Once you are done with the call, you get another call 'confirming' that the call is indeed over. And you probably thought you just spoke for a minute and you get a whooping 80 Rs. entry in the following month's telephone bill! I think there were different classes as well - ordinary and urgent. Urgent was 3 times the cost of ordinary.

There was a day when we had booked a trunk request and since the message was already conveyed, we did not want a huge trunk call bill, so had the receiver put away to avoid getting the trunk call request through!

But the biggest advantage was there was no pulse metering - atleast for local calls. So a minute or an hour of talking all costed the same. Imagine when once owing to my absence from school, I had my friend dictate History notes over phone.

So people who still think India hasn't made great strides in anything.... THINK AGAIN!