Ringtone Persona


I have a new smart phone.  I am excited.  It is as large as my palm, and though this is not my first smart phone, a frisson of excitement runs through me.

I vow – to keep my apps neatly organized, to purge unwanted files regularly, to download only music I want, and not entire folders, to choose cool profile pics for screen lock, chat apps and …you get the drift.

I now look forward to choosing a ringtone, message note, notification tone etc.  I decide to choose a ringtone that depicts my personality.  I want a unique ringtone.  So I check out the available options.

I look for a bubbly, enthusiastic ringtone that will capture who I am, a tone that will cheer me up.

I scroll and play the tones one after the other.  From spring to chimes to ambulances wailing to rock to jazz to rainbow to silence to water to summer to writing adventure to day break to beeps to basic tones to fog to ecliptic to rays of the sun…phew…I play the entire list.

I try them all on for size, is this ringtone ‘me’, I ask?  By now I get clucks and irritated tch tches from my children and husband.

I lower the volume and try again.  I decide that something related to summer will be apt, so I choose a peppy ringtone.  I am happy.

I move to messages now.  I love the bottle-opening tone.  I set it right away.  All other tones can wait.  Have got the main ones sorted out, haven’t I?

I put the phone aside to get back to my chores.  The bottle-opens many times, and each time I am startled by this new sound, I laugh, as my kids ask me what it is?

A few days later, I am at the doctor’s clinic, the bottle-opens with a loud pop.   The doctor laughs. I laugh sheepishly.

At night when I sleep, I set my summery ringtone for my phone alarm also, waiting to be woken up by the strains of summer.  As 6 a.m. comes around, the phone wakes me up with its bubbly, summer ringtone.  I am not used to this new alarm, and I can sense something ringing, is it my husband’s alarm? I snuggle further into my quilt, as the summer ringtone falls on deaf ears.  Consequently, I am running behind schedule.

After a mad morning, I sit down to change the alarm tone.  I am serious about this – it has to be something that will shock me into waking up – I go for harsh – an old car horn, sounds more like an animal braying, but this will have to do, if I don’t have to go crazy in the mornings.

I am slowly settling down to my summery ring tone, though it’s a trifle too long and peppy.  The bottle opener has been replaced by a water-drop falling.  Every message, a drop of water.  I love the theme.

I thought my ringtone was uniquely me.  The taxi driver also has the same ringtone.   20 different people on the MRT have the same tone. Water drops in many phones….., people keep opening messages with their bottle-openers.  Who am I? Can’t I have my own ringtone persona? Each time a water drops, or I hear my ringtone even from somewhere far away, I grope for my phone.

I am not unique. I am a million others!

An Unforgettable Train Journey


We reach the station in typical Bollywood climax style…with barely 10 minutes to spare. We’ve been looking forward to this 36 hour train journey, on the Rajdhani Express, from Delhi to Bangalore for a long long time. Water bottles, Tinkles & some magazines, and we are good to go. My husband and I have hyped it up a bit for the kids, loaded as we are with memories of our long train journeys as children.
The typical last minute chaos of the station fades away as the train slowly trundles out…..bringing into focus another ecosystem, the inside of the train.
I watch with interest, as people settle down. Strangely, most people are intently focused on their smart phones. Nobody talks or acknowledges their neighbours. So very different from when I was a child. Nobody has the ubiquitous junk food plastic bag from home filled with ‘thattais’, ‘murukkus’ and chips. I smile at this change…as I remember boarding the train and a mere five minutes into the journey the crunchy munching would start. People would talk loudly, share their food and a sense of camaraderie would prevail.
I look up to see what my children are making of this journey. They are very excited…each of them has made the berth their home and invite the other to visit. They do not seem to miss their electronic gadgets at all. They play noughts and crosses & ice cream soda on & off. They relish every meal…and wait for the next one. They like the excitement of cooping themselves inside their berths with the curtains and peeping out now & then to talk to us.
I look out of the window, small towns and villages breeze past. Dots on a map, now here, now gone…the enormity & beauty of our country hit me, as the long serpent chugs away relentlessly. Flashes of people, animals, level crossings …..life goes on outside at a steady pace. From within, they seem to happen in fast forward. I dream about everything and nothing, feeling philosophical and sleepy at the same time. I enjoy every moment, more so, because the children are having a great time.
I yearn for tamarind rice and idlis soaked in milagai podi, curd rice & pickle, another flash from memory.
Before we know it we are in Bengaluru, back to the real world!