12 January, 2007

for whom the bells spoil

I am a phone-phobic. Okay. Don't gape. Research says if you leave your mouth open for that long, your lower jaw might decide to book a cruise to Honolulu. Research says that, I don't.

Yes phone-phobic I am. As a matter of fact I'm a baby-detestor too (do the hyphenated words I'm using exist or are they a figment of my literary genius?). Yes I detest human babies in all colours/ shapes/ sizes/ moods/ clothes etc (to the power of infinity). It sounds quite "un-human" (ok ok inhuman) and definately unladylike but after the initial gasps of utter horror from some aunties and smug when-you-become-a-mother-we'll-see look from others, I've seen it all.

Thankfully, not liking babies hasn't really hampered my lifestyle in any earth-shattering way. The side-effects of not going ga-ga over teeny weenies are =
1) not having dribble from someone's chin smeared on your clothes,
2) being pee-free even if some baby is literally peeing in his/her pants,
3) not having to make weird facial contortions to amuse them and
4) not having to emit vague grunting/ gurgling/ constipated sounds to convince the baby that hey you can be cute too.
But phonehobia? Ah...it bothers me every waking (and sometimes sleeping) nanosecond of my life.

I grew up on a wholesome diet of letters from all my relatives. A tear-stained, home-sick little me (hell I was little too once upon a time) would affectionately read and re-read letters from home on a warm patch of my bed in my school hostel. I'd eagerly await cards from friends and foes (yes those days even foes were decent enough. Now friends have a problem remembering.) my hands itching to reply to each one of them. Then I crept out of my hostelic haven and phones barged into my life.

Ringing phones have a startling effect on me - I want to be as far away from them as possible - mentally urging/ willing/ cajoling/ hoping/ pleading some kindred soul in the room to pick it up. Landlines have an anonymity that make them safe for phobics like me. A picks up the phone, takes a message for B. A goes out shopping, gives the message to C who will relay it to B. Work gets done, anonymously safe.

Then came mobile phones (grrrrrrrrrrrr). They retain all the 'phoney' qualities without the anonymity lifebuoy. But sms gave me a lease of hope - a rope for the drowning, a trapdoor for the faint-hearted world of phone-phobics. While my letter writing habits humbly bowed out (I did persist till last year but ill-concealed hints and finally blatant protests from friends made me shelf my letter writing gear), messaging became the invention of the millenium in the phone-phobia community. But mobile phones have gross terrors in store too. You are always accessible (yes I've spoken to people who have been in the weirdest places: on the shitpot, under the table in class, in the middle of a dream, behind library shelves, behind the steering wheel - okay the last one is a bad bad option but don't tell me, I can't even ride a bicycle). Also, anonymity is an obsolete term and things like call timings, durations, costs and missed call details flash away like no one's business.

My phobia, like any living entity, has a characteristic nature of its own. Its soul shrivels up on hearing the tring tring (or whatever ringtone you have...musical or not, it scares), it retaliates with banshee-wailing or suffered simpering silence. And it hates being made to make/attend/pick up a call. The phobia stems from the fact that I never know what to say on the phone.

Scene 1
Me (reluctant quivering voice): Hello
Mrs. Kapoor: Hello beta
Me: Errrrr who do you want to speak to? (for the record, I am a polite, well-mannered person but on the phone I become a blumbering mass of rude gibberish)
Mrs. Kapoor: Your mother. Is she home beta?
Me: Yes aunty.
I flee.

Scene 2
me: Hello
X: Guess who
me: hey please I'm bad at this guessing game.
X (irritating singsong tone): guess who guess who guess who
me: errr sita-gita-rita?
X: nooooooooooo
me (desparation setting in alarmingly fast): tom-dick-harry?
X: come on don't you know me?
me (angrily/unhappily/hand wringingly/on the verge of tears-ily): puhleees tell me. I'm no good at this game. Have mercy on me.
X: Ha ha it's only me silly.
me (rolling eyes/utter frustration at the futility of even expressing my anger/resignedly): Uh oh. Hello. Loooooooongtime (sarcastic crooning in syrupy voice)

My friends usually end up having a monologue with a plastic receiver. I guess they keep calling me because its therapeautic - like taking to a mirror. I love the robe of sympathetic listener/ good friend/ compassionate consoler my friends shroud my phobia in.

New years come and go. Resolutions are made, some kept, some broken. I don't even challenge my phone-phobia. I've missed the last bus, hung from that unforgiving edge and fallen, woken up and lived the nightmare. Now only two options seem feasible to me: either I transform into an answering machine or ... not.

P.S: As I was writing this, I was telephonically informed that a concerned comrade has taken up the herculean task of ridding me from my phone-phobia which, according to him, is a curable disease. At this point, all I would like to say is good luck and wow you are optimistic :)


  1. "telephonically informed". the psychological anomaly of this particular test subject designated #23 is classically reflected in the usage of the above phrase indicating the hightened levels of anxiety and disgust inspired by the self diagnosed condition #23 refers to as "phono-phobia".
    after due deliberation and taking into account all related factors, including my personal observations of the time spent with #23, i am indeed forced to conclude that while phono-phobia is non-lethal (ignoring the repurcussions of reactions of friends to this condition), it however remains uncurable. the concerned comrade ostensably withdraws his valiant efforts whilst remaining eternally optimistic. in final conclusion, although all overt efforts at a cure must be avoided at all costs, subvertive gestures will remain in place.

  2. whoa u wrote that poem on greed? surpasses most of what i have read in a long time

  3. baap re!
    you are sick

  4. I observe with amused nonchalance the scientific explanation of my comrade's withdrawl of concern. However, O Lord, may his subtle efforts bear fruit. Amen

  5. sopho: you call my phobia sick? just because i am not scared of the dark or heights or creepy crawlees like regular ppl dsnt mk my phobia ne lesser...
    oh but if ur referring 2 d baby-detestor part..ya maybe i AM sick..hee haw haw

  6. oye...i realised that there can be different types of phonophobia also...tell me if u find some luck in getting over it.. ;)

  7. Anonymous8:53 pm

    darling u wll never change...love u as u r...i will do all d talkin on d phone for u n all d cuchicooing babies n babas for u....mmmmuuuaaahh

  8. Shylock9:01 pm

    Makes sense with telephobia...But Kids!! You gotta be kidding...

  9. sick pretty much translates literally...means u r a gone case with the cellie...god rest its soul in peace....bechaare ko kitna kuch sehna padta hai....taras jaata hai tumhari awaaz sun ne ke liye na?

    i didnt know you were that much averse to the poor cellie...ab to tumhe definitely call kanna padega...one can torture you with one's nonsense...

  10. the post has a touch of Jug Suraiya...you read his articles?

  11. on further perusal of the resultant debates inspired by #23's condition and more suprizingly the positive albeit "nonchalant" reation illicited by the subject herself, i cautiously choose to extend my conclusions to include the declaration that the comrade in question, encouraged by #23's reaction will continue his endevour, taking liberty of borrowing 'anonymous''phrase "love u as you are", while strongly and vehemently disagreeing with the rest of her/his post. causality:the author shares #23's psychological anomaly of baby-detesting.

  12. anonymous, no offence.

  13. sopho: i do read jug suraiya every sunday in TOI..writes really well...but as i was goin thru my post 2day i realisd that d humour is painfully strained..u know bina baat ka..neway, u live n u learn :P

    ps:my cellphone surely is one of the most under-used gadget in dis country

    sunsetter: if even half your enthusiam to cure my ailment will be channelised towards the 5 glorious plans we have up our sleeves then i think its worth it :P

    you happen to grace
    this humble space
    with muahs and more
    what if i
    telephonically beg u
    for an encore

  14. make it happen. make it so.
    ps where will the other half go??

  15. Anonymous1:02 am



    yes...the one with the pulse dialing...


  16. sunsetter:
    the other half dear sir
    we will drown in glugs of beer
    short notices arn't good enough
    for me to spew my poetic stuff

    ani:the last andt the least??

  17. din bhoodha hua, thami sanson ki dhadkan
    jab akadkar, chadhti raat leti hai aangdaayi
    Bechaari jindagi ki tanha shaam beeti unsuni,
    Kya karte gila priyajan aapke
    jab aapne sameta doorbhash ki awaaj apne bhay mein unkahi........

  18. :)

    Ditto on the little kids.

    About the phone, well... I hate the damn things but 'certain' people insist I should not be mor than a phonecall away... :(

  19. hahaha ... i don't care much for the phones of today, too ... except for the camera that goes with it! ;P

  20. ts: ditto on little kids..yes LITTLE is the operative word here. for me its only babies that are bugging. i love scruffy 6 yr old muddy boys and pigtails giggling over dolls houses. *grin grin*

  21. Hey... hating the phone is fine. Carrying it is a pain, the absurd timings are even more painful etc.. etc... I generally hate talking so i can understand the hate for phones.
    But of all things, how can you hate babies? I guess you would like to believe that you too are equally cute and cuddlalbe, hence the resentment... :P :P :P

  22. cha cha. I like. I like this. verily muchly. One in a gazzillion to actively 'hate' the concept of cell phones (and the concept of real-time)!

    As if the growing permisiveness (hic!)in homo sapiens was not enough, electronic gadgets play catch-up in makin licentious headway (hic!)into any remaining private lifestyle one has!

    The itch to stay 'wired', to be bombarded with hi-fi data dump on a mundane communication event, and the 'given expectation' that you need to 'be there' when it rings (I know the F!SH! Philosophy talks about it - but that has no f*** phones!) is to me too quite intolerable (but now that it's been a while that I've felt this way) and funny in a stoic way!

    Imagine these phones packin in 'x' times more activity per unit of our lives. Badhazmee nahi tho aur kya hogi? (burp!). Gotta digest life!!

    but......cha! babies. how could you?

    1) Dogs drool n dribble too
    2) Huggies take care of pee n goo
    3) 6 yr old muddy boys amuse (chi chi :)) you?
    4) Your grunting gurgling are exceptions to the rule ! :)

  23. soulsong:
    1. babies = puppies...and puppy mouths have THE most heavenly smell there is to be smelt.

    2.Huggies are ecological disasters. they take even longer to degrade than plastic. and coming from an environmental studies student, you better believe me.

    3. give me a little boy in a sandpit and a baby in a pram... nasty boy any day

    4. grunt grunt

    pal: trust me at 20 you'd like to be called anything but cute n cuddly...
    ps-do i kno u??

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. I just happened to browse through it...
    Some nice entries... :)

  26. pal: ALL comments anyone types get mailed to me...so read the earlier one that u deleted...thought i shud let u kno :P

  27. smart girl i must say..
    i deleted for some reason...
    wrote if for no reason anyways..
    and that i am busted.. i hope you wont mind it..

  28. fine! telephonically challenged
    people exists , me didnt know,

    cell phones do give me headache
    i must say,

    me love both the genre puppies/babies,
    call em whatever u want,
    both are pure and precious,
    unselfish love or so they say,
    pooing n manure,pisses and misses?
    hell, both do it anyways
    whenever whereever howeever.

    (nice write, especually liked messaging being the greatest invention and i positively love making faces at young ones, do it with my dog too, though i am sure he thinks everytime "what the hell is the guy trying to do, iam old now!!"
    advantages of making faces at babies and playing with them are:
    they are great and awesome getaways at social situations where u meet ur long lost chachi's, their daugters and their newborns!)

  29. Anonymous1:33 am

    how can i not comment on this one...optimistic..yes i am.. :P
    m th one who bugs u with th phone now..don kno bout others..but i definitely win this one... :P
    i don think i hv met ny other person except mita who can make u talk on th phone more than me..nd she also does this once in a while..nd i hv done tht about countless times already.. :P
    it bugs th hell out of u i kno..but its just amazin fun talkin to u on th phone....i spoke to u for a half hour on th phone nd u wanted to kill me...but still tht would nvr let me down.. ;)
    i don kno who al will be able to keep up with u on th phone but i definitely will.. :D
    bout baby's i don like em too much either..except th 'pillu' at my place.. :P
    so i agree with everythin u say to tht.. :P




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