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On Losing My Cell Phone

Parveen Minocha

A few weeks ago, I lost my cell phone. I had just finished my music class at Chinmaya Temple in Andover and stopped for a quick ‘namaskar’ with my teacher, leaving my bag and phone on the chair. Lucky to get ‘prasad’ from the priest, I didn’t realize my hand was occupied. I forgot to pick the phone and left the temple. My teacher did notice and called out for it, however someone around came and claimed it! Well, those from India would know about the ‘chappal chors’ at temples, and I had a tech-experience of the same.

As I reached home and settled after dinner, I realized that my cell phone was not traceable. After checking with the android app, it was active and someone had accessed it around 10:53 pm. Hopeful that the person had only picked it up mistakenly, I made several calls but alas, no response. The intentions were obviously clear. Next morning, I rushed back to the temple, again, hoping to find it there or that someone had returned it. But of course, God only wanted me to pay him a visit.

By this time, it was pretty clear that I may not get my phone again. Still I left a few threatening voice messages, some angry texts, and Whatsapp notes. Now my attention shifted to identity theft. I frantically changed all the passwords on my email accounts and every other possible one that I had an app for on my phone. Well, there was also a 32GB extended memory card, full of personal pictures, videos and what not. What would the thief get from looking at my family pictures or my child’s performances, could be some joy! Eventually, I gave up on the hope of any heart change of the thief; I called Sprint and got the service blocked. It gave some peace of mind, but I still worried about the consequences.
The first week rolled by in the worry and misery. By this time, I had started to settle down and the anxiety lowered. I had lost most of my contacts and hadn’t invested much in backup. Family members were informed; some friends started to find out. The sound of the ringer was fading and I wasn’t jumping to catch every notification, respond to every email, check on every message, whatsapp or otherwise. While not worrying about charging the phone, I was starting to sleep peacefully, and the next several days were getting adjusted to life without a phone. I was looking up directions to places, printing them or even writing on a piece of paper. I felt a little awkward, a little nervous, not having the GPS guide. What if I took some wrong turn, etc. But it wasn’t that bad either, I was going places. I had to be careful, to check my calendar for the day, make notes for meetings, life was starting to roll again.

Then came a phase where I started enjoying the pace of life without my phone. It was a feeling of peace, bit of slowdown, less urgency of jumping onto tasks. I found it a bit relaxing, connecting with my own self and not rushing to click pictures or post on FB. People at work also started to adjust to the fact that I was not accessible by cell. I could no longer take calls while driving. I wasn’t accessible 24x7. Sometimes I did worry about not being there for my daughter though, what if she needed anything; well good reason for her to bond with dad.

Fast forward, I had to order my new cell phone after all. I visited San Francisco for Oracle Openworld and JavaOne events. That cell phone came in very handy. The session schedules and event details were available as mobile apps. These are huge events, spread across various hotels and Moscone centers in SFO. If you plan to make the best of your time, you would be running from one venue to the other, plus checking for nearby restaurants, attractions, book the Uber and the whole nine yards. And yes, catching up with family after a long day. Couldn’t have managed it without the cell.

It was an interesting period for three weeks, of losing the cell phone and getting the new one activated. I feel like it changed my life a bit or made me think about how I was doing things. I got some faith that people survived without a phone until a few years back and so can we. It is okay to be on your own sometimes, don’t have to count on the phone all the time. Probably there is a balance of using technology and still being able to live your life rather than being hooked to it.

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