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The usual routine for the evening when the L & M (Lord & Master, for the newbies) returns from the office is a scalding cup of tea/coffee/Bournvita for him and some chit-chat about the day’s happenings between us while the powerful Labradorian jaws of Luci provide background score as they steadily crush Marie biscuits to a pulp.

On this peaceful domestic scene regularly and without fail intrudes the ringing of the L & M’s cell phone. Well, when you are in charge of security, it is inevitable that you get calls from your subordinates, either reporting/updating or even asking for directions. During such interruptions while the L & M gets busy, I divert my attention to Luci darling, or in case my cell phone is downstairs (which it generally isn’t since I always forget and leave it upstairs), I check for any new updates or play word games. When the L & M is done with the call, we carry on from where we left off.

On some days though, when the call is done, he goes on to check messages on his phone and I continue with whatever I am up to, and there we’d be sitting in companionable silence, peering into our respective phones with Luci, who having crunched enough biscuits and also ‘fetched’ the ball thrown for her a few times (she not being a fitness freak, ‘a few times’ is all she is prepared to ‘fetch’!), stretched between us.

It is on one such evening that it struck me. What if a photographer had been around just then and clicked the three of us thus? I’ll answer that for you. The picture would have been circulated widely on the net, picked up and shared by those on social medias as well, perhaps even blogged about, as an example of how the cell phone has intruded into the lives of people and effectively put a stop to communication between husband and wife. 

Look at this couple, it would go on to say oh-so-sanctimoniously, the chant taken up reverently by the ever ready to judge (and share) netizens, they are looking at their phones, not talking to each other. A neglected dog too. Oh the poor dear. Where has the golden (my foot!) past gone, they will lament, a time when human relations were paramount, with no technology allowed to intervene. Of course it is conveniently forgotten that with no technology to ease her workload, the wife used to spend all her time in the kitchen and in housework, and the husband used to come home and sit with his mother. One more cup of tea and some hot snacks for my son, daughter-in-law.

It will be conveniently given the go-by by the frenzied sharers that up till the moment the (hypothetical) picture was clicked, the couple were indeed talking (of course they would not be knowing that, but then should you opine about things you know nothing about?!) and would probably continue at their own time and pace a little later whenever they felt like it. All such possibilities are willfully ignored or not considered at all. You see, that denies one the the opportunity to cry over the way the world is going to the dogs due to “technology” and also for a wistful looking back at a perfect (my foot!) past which never ever existed the way it is portrayed. The self same people who will holler for the blood of the concerned service providers if their connection is lost for even a second talk as if they are these paragons who are prepared to spend a life time without the help of technology.

I came across some comments written in a holier-than-thou attitude by some about people they noticed at restaurants. The couple hardly talked, they were looking at their respective phones and eating in silence; the child was neglected yada, yada, yada, it went.

First things first. Hello! Weren’t you at the restaurant to enjoy time with whomsoever you went with? What were YOU doing keeping tabs on the couple/family at the next table? So you think staring at the phone is worse than staring at what other people are up to and judging them without a clue of what their life is about?

Secondly, and this one is the real mystery to me and not easily understandable, why would you expect any couple or family to behave a certain way? We are different people, introverts/extroverts in different degrees. We could be tired, moody, depressed, ill or even have had a fight and not speaking to each other for the duration the jobless someone(s) noticed us. Yup, it is allowed that couples have differences and have tiffs, not be on speaking terms and make up at their own discretion without the interfering noses of ‘judge-rs’ poked into their affairs and conclusions reached.

There are other reasons. It could be that the couple have talked to each other enough through the day or have nothing to say to each other right then. May be they are not the ‘chatting’ type. Or may be they are there ONLY for the food and who are you to say that should not be so? As for ‘neglected’ kids, are you kidding me? As if children never ever were neglected by parents before cell phones appeared! Give me a break. Lastly, perhaps they DO find their phones more interesting than each other. That is NOT a crime-against-humanity kind of thing, you know. And unless one of them complains to you, it is no business of others.

We are, as said earlier, different people, and couples/families are the result of different permutations and combinations of those different people coming together. Some couples/families are all over each other all the time, others not so in different degrees. What you enjoy won’t work for me and the way I lead my life may not, nay, will not be, your cup of tea. So let others be. If you don’t want to look at your phone, by all means, don’t. Just leave those who love their phones alone. Not that I am going to stop looking at MY phone because of what anyone else thinks. Ha.

Pssst. I still hate phone-calls and talking over the phone.
NaBloPoMo November 2014
©Shail Mohan 2014