November 25, 2013

Cellphones... mobile phones and such

Thinking back to 2001, and the very first mobile phone which I had... it was a Nokia, something which looked like the one below. I was given this when I first went to the hostel, and I used to keep it switched off almost all through. Never carry it, just keep it locked in the cupboard and use it to call my parents or receive calls just before I head to bed. I did not know what was the model number, in fact I did not even know that there were model numbers for different phones.

The life of this phone was certainly short lived, as within 6 months into college, I wanted to get another phone, one which would at least fit in my hand and could also be shoved into jeans pockets. This certainly was not working in that respect.

 My next phone was a Siemens C35i which was gifted to me on the happy occasion of coming home after surviving 6 months in college and still deciding to head back after a month long break at home. I think parents really thought they needed to keep in touch with me and figure out how I was managing.

This was one of the sturdiest phones which I have come across. From those times in 2002, I think I had a penchant for dropping mobile phones and it was an almost weekly affair which I am talking about. The battery used to come out, sometimes the body used to get ever so slightly nicked, but there was never a time when the phone stopped working with all these small drops ( as I would call it). Falling is something which is far more serious and that is also something which did come about , finally causing the demise of this loyal partner.

So when did this phone fall down? As I was coming down the stairs of my institute building after a lecture on the 8th floor. The phone was in my hand along with books ( not in the jeans pocket as it was to be) and it slipped and fell through the hollow space of the spiral stairway. I still remember the sharp draw of breath around me, and I rushed down, as fast as I could through 6 flights of stairs, to receive my phone in a similar way after the numerous drops. The battery was dislodged, there were many dents and I prayed hard as I inserted the battery and tried in vain to power it up. The phone never switched on after that, and I was left thinking what shall I tell my parents after a year of usage.

Next up in 2003, I decided to get a phone as it was something I had gotten used to, and my parents had agreed that I could go and pick up what I wanted. So, I went ahead and picked up a Sony Ericsson T105.

This was to be a long standing relationship which i was to have with Sony Ericsson. I loved the clean look of this phone and I did not think that there would be anything else I would want in a long time.

Little did I know that there are some forces which never really work for me and phones! In another year, I was travelling in an autorickshaw and this phone was in my 'pocket'. But, as I slipped out of after the ride, the phone also conveniently slipped out of my pocket. I still it was a pair of burgundy trousers, with a small pocket which fit the phone very snug. So, it slipped out, and I never really laid my eyes on this beauty again. I was completely heart broken. I really did love this phone as it was something which was my choice.  Here again, my parents grudgingly agreed to let me pick another phone, and in my mind I had decided I shall pick another Sony Ericsson.

Now with the changing times, the new fad in 2004 was clamshell, or flip phones. The whole generation was set on flipping open the phone and taking a call. And that is exactly what I went looking after. I decided to get a Sony Ericsson Z300i in Granite Grey. This was the phone I believe I used for a really long time. I liked the phone, it was conveniently sized and was again very sturdy in terms of my frequent drops.

I used this phone for a good 1.5 years and the keys started to wear off. The paint was peeling and the keys were also being non responsive after all the usage. I was glad that this was not a phone which was to spoil or be lost, but well used. I believe my parents also thought this was certainly an improvement in my usage and care of my phone. They decided that now I could be gifted another phone. This time they told me to make a pick and see what is that I wanted when they visited me next year. This led to a flurry of activity with my friends, all armed with desktops, would search for a really nice phone. And after a long search I told my parents what I wanted and they said I shall have it for my birthday.

So, in 2006, I got the Nokia 7373, which was pretty much the only swivel phone I have ever seen in my life. I think this was the most beautiful phone Nokia ever shipped out of their factory. The phone was a dream and with no OS complications and all, I decided to trade loyalties with Sony Ericsson and move to this beauty.

This was the phone which I came with to work at my first job. I loved this phone to bits and I do not think I would have changed it, unless I was again faced with a dash of bad luck. I was off to have a biryani on a sunday night in bangalore, and as I stepped out of B's car, the phone slipped out of my hand and on the street. I think it was on my lap and when I stepped out, I did not realize it had fallen. We had the  biryani before I shrieked at my realization. But by then, the streets were all clear with no trace of my beauty. I still love the look of this phone and I think it shall be the beauty which I shall cherish the most on this list.

Losing this phone was a huge blow and my parents very clearly told me as you are a earning person, buy your phone and take care of it. So, there I was on a search for a phone in 2008. I did my web research and I landed myself back with a Sony Ericsson, a S500.

I was trying to find a beautiful phone, similar to something I lost, and in those times, this was the best I could come up with. This was again a phone which still sits in my bottom drawer. It functions, you can make calls, though there are some dents which are only too obvious. I used this phone also for a good 2 years before I decided that I need to change this phone. Here again, the keys had worn off and some keys were not functioning.

As I said, I am a Sony loyalist and I did again turn to another Sony Ericsson. This was the time they had got out their Xperia series and the whole new deal in 2010 was touch screen phones. I was not too sure about a touch screen and hence got a Xperia X10 mini pro. This was again one of those really short lived phones.

T was born in 2011 and she decided that it would b a teether of sorts with smooth edges and me being a newbie mother, had no clue what would truly work for a phone with regard to baby saliva, and lots of it. The phone started giving me trouble in just about year and I do not think this was dropping or over usage. I guess this was more like dropping the phone in water, or maybe sprinkling water on it many times. Anyhow, by the end of a year, I was done with trying and I decided to move on to another phone. This was again catalyzed by the software upgrade which also resulted in the phone being really slow.

At this point, I decided I did not want anything expensive and went and got a Samsung galaxy Y, which was in budget, but the on screen keypad was a deal breaker. I hated it completely.

It certainly played the part very well, but it was really slow too, and maybe I was a bit spoilt too!
This ended in me being frustrated and come my birthday I decided it was time for a new phone. This time yet again it was to be a Xperia. And learning from experience I decided to go for a Xperia Go which was said to be rugged, water and dust proof. I was thrilled with  the prospect that this phone might just outlast all my other ones. And I also got this one in a cherry yellow, which certainly helped the matter.

This phone was a beauty, loved it completely and had me hooked to it and I almost was becoming a less and less a laptop user. My Mac was bearing the brunt of it all.. I was not charging it and so on. And then I dropped the phone and the screen cracked! There that was the end of it all. Now I had a phone which was defective. I got the screen changed, but then the screen again started giving me issues, and I could also see some dust particles which had gotten inside, or the small break in the casing was causing it. But either way, I was back to being without a phone.

Then a friend offered his Samsung Galaxy S II and I thought, let me try this next. I will use it till I decide what is going to be my next move.

As for this phone, I think it is really too big. Fast and good no doubt, but just too huge. I do not know if this is something I will ever want. I find it so difficult to push into my pocket, or even my handbag interior pockets. But if you love to carry it about in your hand, it works like a wallet and thats just fine.

I am still not sure which phone will I buy next, and iPhone is on the cards, but lets see. At least they have a good customer service and warranty! That should really work for me. Till then…

All images have been linked to their sources.

November 19, 2013

Book review: Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

When I picked up Narcopolis, I did not know anything about Jeet Thayil, in fact I read up about the author after I got my hands on the book. The main reason I picked up this book was the opium dens of Bombay. I had heard so much about them from friends, mumbaikaars in particular, so I wanted to read something about it, and I thought why not this.

The book takes a look at the dens from an outsider's perspective, and then it moves onto give a complete internal understanding of how things actually function in these dens. The people involved, the different folks who visit and each of them has a story of their own. Some of the key characters are the owner of a prominent opium den, a hijra lady who had been sold by her mother when she was young, worked as a prostitute to pay for boarding and then bought her freedom, and now is a opium pipe-maker at the den. The book portrays how the gradual progression to cocaine and heroin occurs from opium, almost unknowingly. They start it as a trial, the owner of the den does not even wish to have anything other than opium, maybe because he believes the rest are too dangerous, or because its a matter of practice. This said, considering the fact that he himself looks towards cocaine for that much needed fix on many days. He almost goes out of business after verbal feuds with those who want him to move on to other substances which are more addictive, and what they believe is more profitable. A sort of conscious businessmen in the midst of all the substance abuse. Towards the end of the book, there is a look at rehabilitation which many are keen on entering, knowing that it shall alone show the way to some sane living. There comes a point when the fears and insecurities start to haunt and then you want to pull back, but by then you are so set in the routine that its difficult to turn back.

There is parallel story of a Chinese immigrant who dies in India of old age, a man famed for his pipes, and his history from being a part of the communist party to fleeing from China to India. He travels in India to finally settle in Mumbai, where the sea makes him experience peace and he decides to call it home. The story is narrated in third person, through the eyes of a foreigner who has come to trace his routes and understand how he holds a strong link to Mumbai.

The book gave me the deepest knowledge about the various names for substances used, be it natural or chemical. The sources they come in from, and the route this follows to reach the addicts. There is a fair bit of local dialects and Hindi used through the text which does render authenticity to the story. It was not a book which I would pick up and read again, but it is a book which I would suggest if someone wants to know the many names and many ways opium, cocaine and heroin move about and the close community which depends on it for their survival in every way.

Image Source:

November 11, 2013

Sad but true...

Toddler blocks
Free play
 Yesterday, T came up with ' I don't like you amma', while sitting at a restaurant and I was trying to feed her dinner. This was a new place where we had gone and they had no high chair and hence no crayons/paper for the kid to be kept occupied. She was already irritated with the cooped up on the couch situation and there, I was trying to feed her and keep her distracted from the fact that I was trying to feed her with songs, pointing out obscure things which might or might not have been there. When T came up with ' I don't like amma, I want to go to papa', I dismissed it as the usual toddler fare and that she was just trying to get out of the feeding part. But, yes, it did in someway stay with me, and I thought about it after she was in bed last night.

Am I being a little too protective? B, certainly feels so, and he has made it clear umpteen times, that I am not allowing her to make mistakes. *sigh

But, how do I? Isn't she too young to try out stuff? Well, maybe this is why even when kids become bigger, parents just do not let their kids go. And, I have always been so so against it, and I really do not need to see myself going down that path. It is really time to change.

I aim to help her only where dangerous things are involved, like walking near traffic areas, kitchen where things might be hot etc. Essentially, I shall be looking at letting her do what she wants without interfering and will try really hard not to get involved in the daily stuff which she does.

There really doesn't need to be a right way to do everything. This is something which I need to imbibe. Really important.

November 7, 2013

Helpless days

Come Diwali, and there goes the maid!

This is something I had posted on Facebook beginning of the week, and I had so many folks agreeing with me and sharing my plight.

I have been completely on a helpless phase the last week. At times I wonder if it was not for the cooking and cleaning which has to be done, I could pretty much manage on my own. I am not saying that I shall not do the above mentioned household duties, but do it spaced out through the week and still manage a half decent looking place by the weekend. When there is a help, then it comes to wanting everything and then the demands also increase. When there is no help, things are more manageable and more planned. I felt that this last week I, myself was also more upbeat and planning things and ticking of the done activities in my head. This did really help in having a clear idea and it certainly did mean less forgetting.

Given this, would I want to go without a help always? I think I prefer it when the help is involved in more basic activities and the rest I manage. This in a way makes me feel more in control. Maybe a control freak? I do not know. Without a help at all? That would be very difficult, and I think disastrous for my back. I hate washing dishes, so maybe if there was a constant help source ;).... then I might even consider that. For that, there has to be a different lifestyle all together. The home has to take almost half a day of two individuals time, then alone can it be worked out without a help. And, I really do think it is possible, it is not that difficult.

Anyhow, let me keep my fingers crossed for the next week and some luck to come my way by then.