Picture this: A couple from a lower middle class standing in front of a Paan Shop. A mobile phone rings. The husband excitedly glances at his mobile to see if it is his phone which is ringing. He finds it is not the case. Then the wife curiously checks her set but hers is also silent. Now it is the turn of the Paanwalla who opens his drawer to check his cell phone but his instrument is not buzzing either. In the meanwhile, the camera is shifted on the Paanwalla help sitting under the Paan Booth, chatting merrily on his mobile phone in his dialect. Well, this was publicity campaign of a telecom company on air not many years ago. I simply loved the advertisement. A cute advertisement it definitely was, but how realistic a portrayal it could be, I had my doubts.
What I perceived earlier as a figment of imagination was already a reality. This I realized a couple of years ago when an interesting incident occurred in my own drawing room which could be a perfect plot for an advertisement of a telecom service provider. A friend of mine had come over. As Roshan, the domestic help was serving tea to the guest; we heard a mobile phone ring. Instantly, my friend started looking for the mobile in her purse. To our amusement, we found that the call was for the servant. Indeed, mobile phones have become so common these days that from the humble Dhobi to the lowly paid Mali to a poor rickshaw puller- they all own cellular phones. What a remarkable achievement! Jai ho!
Gone are the days when possessing a mobile phone used to be a status symbol .What a celebration it was when we acquired our first cellular phone in mid 90s! The hand set, purchased for a huge sum, was quite big and heavy in comparison to the small and sleek phones with umpteen features which are now flooding the market. Back then, the mobile set had ornamental value- a prized possession to be flaunted but seldom to be used. Because of the exorbitant call rates (16 rupees per minute), mobiles were used sparingly for making calls .Even for the incoming calls there were hefty charges, no wonder there was hesitation to receive incoming calls.
Going back to 80s when the mobile phones had not made entry into the Indian market, having a fixed line itself was a luxury. . For getting a telephone connection there used to be a long wait stretching up to years. There were a privileged few who owned a landline connection. One phone in the neighborhood used to serve the ‘P.P. number’ to a whole lot of people living in the vicinity. Making a long distance call was no less than an ordeal. It required a lot of patience and persistent reminders to the telephone operator to get the call through.
What a remarkable progress has been made since then! Today connectivity is instant. There is no agonizing wait. Voice quality is amazing. In fact, today mobile is a ‘small wonder’, capable of doing whole lot things –from chatting, playing games, sending messages, listening to music to booking tickets and internet banking and lot more. With the availability of 2G and 3G spectrum, a new wave of telecom revolution is unfolding. Jai ho!
Published in Ht Chandigarh on August 2, 2010