Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Thin Thread

Communication has attained gargantuan proportions in our lives.

The daily grind without emails, SMS messages, phone calls and whatnot, would suddenly look like a TV set with its antenna connection pulled out, I suspect. I can't stand those black and white worms crawling up and down the TV screen, it has something to do with a recurring nightmare I used to have in my teens. I would imagine myself as a spaceship, either part of it or the damned thing seemed to have grown around it, hurtling at unimaginable speeds through what seemed like a never-ending cosmos. I used to wake up screaming and incoherent. They say Elvis Presley's favourite pastime was shooting bullets into innocent TV screens. With those worms doing their own thing, I wouldn't mind shooting a bazooka into one.

Pune to Chennai and back to Pune, and back again to Chennai. The Pune-based cell phone company gave me a special privileged status with my orgiastic SMS messaging and calls too. They were so reluctant to see me go, they went on dilly-dallying for three long weeks. My bills went on mounting but who cares. Twice they rang up to request me to transfer it to some relative. I emphatically said No. Finally I got the dreaded message "SIM inactive". One week of frustrating suffocation, one whole week of total peace... my friends had crossed the 460 mark, and it was a struggle to keep in touch with all. So the lull after the continuous storm came as total bliss.

This thin thread of communication is all so important, now I have realized. It's almost like depending upon the car to take me around in this huge city. Without it, I am totally at the mercy of the erratic auto-rickshaw drivers who refuse to come or charge you astronomically. The buses I have not tried due to time constraints, but the idea of getting sandwiched between sweaty bodies for kilometres with the badly maintained buses, is nothing short of a nightmare either. So the cell phone becomes a lifeline under all circumstances. One hears heart-rending stories about people caught up in situations and the cell phone coming in handy, like in life-threatening accident cases, highway robberies and worse. One also hears how the cell phones were used wildly during the long and tormenting days of riots in Gujarat in 2002. Every technical advance, brings its own horrors with it.

Having worked in the plasma technology for more than three decades I used feel proud that this is one branch of science where no misuses seem possible. Not any more. The Russians are rumoured to have developed electro-static guns which shoot bullets that have a 100 times worse impact than ordinary guns. The laser-beam based huge guns they also have are said to be able to create an acoustic resonance in the atomic structure of a metallic object so effectively the whole piece disintegrates into powder. If they aim this gun at an aircraft... use your imagination. Stuff for horrid science fiction is becoming real life now.

Were it not for the cell phone, I shiver, my visits to all my new friends in Chennai would have been several times more torturous indeed. Weirdly true, one thing about these right-angled streets is that the human mind finds them much more confusing than the older, chaotic streets with their individual identities. It's so much easier to ring up the friend and get spoon-fed about the left or right turns, huge landmarks and then like a trained paratrooper land right there where you intended to. Wonderful !

Ciao for today, winding up early tonight.


At 12:34 AM, Blogger david raphael israel said...

Hey Max,

just as I was becoming habituated to your daily tales, you're now leaving your readers high and dry.

You are forgiven this irregularity, on the proviso you post more before too long!


At 12:40 AM, Blogger Max Babi said...

David dear fellow, I write daily but post erratically. This post got zero comments, so I was taking a breather...am at Pondicherry now, replying to you.
Tks a lot pal.



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