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Dancing to her tunes

Posted on Trivia – The Spice of Life on 05/02/2022

The other day I called the house help whom I had decided to hire. Before hiring her I had enquired about her educational status. She had never been to school. However, when I asked for her aadhar card and her COVID-19 vaccination certificate, she asked for my WhatsApp number and in a jiffy both documents were shared with me on WhatsApp. Here was an uneducated lady who was very smart and tech savvy! I had decided to hire her but was yet to fix a date.

After finalizing the date, I called her on her mobile. I heard a chartbuster which she had chosen as her caller tune. I marvelled at her zest for keeping abreast with the times. The caller tune led me down the memory lane to a time when the mobile revolution had just begun in India. I was travelling on a train. It was barely 6:00 a.m. I was woken up by some loud Punjabi pop music. I almost fell off the berth. It took me a while to realise that the music was the ringtone of a co-passenger. The energy and decibel level of the music was such that even the dead would wake up.

We have come a long way since then. Those were the days when ring tones (other than the default ones that came with the mobile phone) had to be paid for. And there were many who were actually willing to pay for them. Ditto for caller tunes. Just to clarify the difference between ringtones and caller tunes (for many of us still treat the mobile phone as a purely utilitarian gadget) – a ringtone is what you hear from your phone when someone calls you, while a Caller Tune is what the caller hears when he or she calls you. Now of course, with cut-throat competition amongst the various mobile service providers, ringtones as well as caller tunes are usually gratis. For the more narcissistic there are name caller tunes where your name is announced to the caller. If you search the internet you will find that several mobile users have even personally gone to the offices of the mobile service operators to set name caller tunes!! The only utilitarian aspect of this according to me is that in case you have called a wrong number, you can cut the call in good time!

Coming back to the domestic scene, I was happy to have found a house help after a long interregnum attributable to the pandemic. But after hiring her, the flip side of the mobile revolution was there to witness. A number of our folktales tell us of how the demon’s life breath was vested in a caged parrot (राक्षस की जान पिंजरे के तोते में). My house help too could not breathe without the mobile being in her range of vision. It was almost like her heart was beating in the mobile. There was not much that I could do except for indicating indirectly to her that she should focus more on her work than the mobile. But then just as she was dancing to the tunes of the mobile, I too had little choice but to go with the flow, for I had zeroed in on this house help after a long and arduous search.

4 thoughts on “Dancing to her tunes

  1. Anita,
    Nice write-up. Mobile is the biggest socialiser and has transformed our lives. But we have all become it’s slaves. Everyone is dancing to its tunes.

    Sometime ago I witnessed absolute illiteracy when I booked a slot for the vaccination of my house help and asked for the OTP. She didn’t know how to read the OTP, nor did she know her mobile number or its last four digits. Paying her for the vaccine cost and to and fro auto fare was no good. I had to chaperone her to the vaccination centre.


  2. Nice post. Untill a few years back, I had no smart phone and no whatsapp or Facebook.
    But later I had to go with the flow and get a smartphone.
    According to me, a callertune is an absolute nonsense. Just a waste of money. Sometimes the caller tune is so horrible, you just start hating the person at once.
    When Mobile Phone was new, I too had a lot of interest in ringtones, the monophonic tones, later polyphonic tones and so on. I too usee to pay for downloading a new tone. 🙈
    But now a big no to it. I just randomly selected one already available on the handset.
    Fortunately the house help at my place is not that mobile savvy. I don’t know about their education, but they seem ok. In fact we’ve a couple of maids who are real sisters.


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