Andrew Buncombe: You’re breaking up, I’m at the cinema

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

It’s curious the way in which things settle down, how issues that once appeared vexing gradually smooth out, or even become a pleasure. For instance, when I first moved to Delhi I found the lack of supermarkets an utter chore. Now I’ve learned to take pleasure from visiting the half-dozen various shops required to gather up the ingredients for dinner, and smile when I can wander on to the street outside our apartment and buy vegetables from a man pushing them on a cart.

Other things have gone in reverse. Three years ago, I was delighted to discover how simple and quick it was to buy a mobile phone, how cheap the calls were and how good the coverage was even in the most remote parts of the country. But gradually, mobile phones, or more precisely, the relationship Indians have with their phones, have led me to despair. Let me explain.

Indians love their phones, and lots has been written about the positive impact they have had on many lives. We all know Keralan fishermen are now able to discover where they are likely to get the best price for their fish before they come ashore, and how migrant workers drawn to the large cities are able to maintain easy contact with their families back in the village.

Phone towers fill the landscape, phone ownership has now passed 750 million. But what one hears less about is the primacy given to these phones and the way in which they have started to dominate people’s lives.

Quietly, they have shifted from being a tool of enablement to a device of enslavement. One notices this invarious ways; the manner in which people will continue to hold phone conversations even while riding a motorbike, cycling or driving a car; theway in which people – officials, politicians and others – will break off during a conversation to answer their ringing phone even when they don’t know who is calling; ring tones have increasingly become louder, almost like a car horn.

My biggest gripe concerns phones in cinemas. I can’t remember the number of films that have been repeatedly disturbed. A few years back, stern words were exchanged with several people as the suspenseful culmination of the FBI movie Breach was repeatedly interrupted as they answered various calls.

More recently, the excruciating yet gripping 127 Hours, was similarly ruined by someone sitting at the front, who not only answered his phone, but then loudly explained to the caller that he could not speak for too long as he was in the cinema. He then told him to call back later and dictated an alternative number for his friend to reach him on. He then repeated it, to make sure the friend got the digits down correctly.

In fact, I can then think of just one film I have seen in India that was not spoiled by such hare-brained antics, Julie & Julia. Perhaps people were too charmed by the recipes.

This is not supposed to be a rant about Indians, or more accurately, the people of Delhi. I don’t think they are any more or less thoughtful than people anywhere else. But I am certain they are obsessed by their phones, and I don’t think it’s healthy.

You’re hired: message of hope behind bars

Delhi’s Tihar Jail is a forward-thinking place. Over the years, officials there have introduced many ground-breaking initiatives that have shown a compassionate and thoughtful approach to the issue of incarceration.

Inmates have been taught photography, painting, yoga and music. They have even organised their own version of The X Factor and recently former national cricketers visited to give the prison’s team some advice.

This week saw another such undertaking. A series of major companies, including Vedanta Enterprises, Agarwal Packers and JRA and Associates, were invited to the prison to hold recruitment interviews with inmates, whose sentences are likely to expire within the next six months.

A total of 14 prisoners were offered jobs. Neeraj Kumar, the prison’s director general explained: “We were giving inmates vocational and educational training but without the assurance of a job, all of that is wasted.”

Among those who succeeded in landing a job offer was 40-year-old Sandeep Bhatnagar, who has been held in the jail since 2006, while awaiting trial for his alleged role in a bank robbery. “This is not just an appointment letter,” he declared. “It is an assurance of a rehabilitated life in society which would have otherwise maybe shunned me. I can now hope for a speedy acquittal by sending this letter to the court to convince them to acquit me soon. I can now assure my wife and children of a decent life.”

Cricket shows corporate sponsors to best seats

There’s an outcry over the sale and distribution of tickets for the Cricket World Cup, taking place in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Indians adore cricket (almost as much as their phones) but the International Cricket Council has set aside a whacking 40 per cent of seats for sponsors.

Last week, there were ugly scenes when police in Bangalore used bamboo truncheons to beat fans, angry that tickets were not available for last night’s match against England even though they had queued over night.

Many fans have already likened the situation to the fiasco surrounding the Commonwealth Games. On that occasion, tickets were often said to be sold out even when it would later emerge the stadiums were half empty.

a.buncombe@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power