Our phone-free columnist realises the benefits of a life less cluttered.
Shared experiences make for successful novels, happy marriages, insurance payouts, and sporting careers.
We identify with a character falling in love and then out of it in a novel because it is something that has happened to most of us. All those who arrive at a stadium to watch a Roger Federer or a Lionel Messi not only share in the moment of success but give it a context.
Asked to name half a dozen experiences that must be common to most of mankind, I would say: we have all had childhood illnesses, eaten the last piece of cake being saved for somebody else, taken the wrong turn while driving and discovered things unexpectedly, mistaken convenience for friendship, walked in the rain to see what it was all about and lost the numbers saved in our so-called smartphones.
This last example happened to me recently (actually, I can’t pretend any of the others did ‘recently’). New Year was the worst time for this to happen. It meant I could only greet those who called me first. I contemplated sending out a message saying, “Dear friends, I have lost your telephone numbers, could you kindly send them to me?”
Then I remembered a message my friends had once received saying I was stuck in Madrid without any money or passport or a change of socks, so could you please send me a million dollars or something like that. No one responded to that distress call, so why should anyone respond to this?
I shouldn’t complain. Perhaps this is nature’s way (or at least the way mobile phones have) of spring cleaning; of getting rid of excess stuff. My phone is full of numbers of people I will never meet again (like the cabbie who was so kind to me in Florence once), or want to meet again (the store keeper in Agra who ripped me off ). How they got there, I don’t know. It is
My phone is full of numbers of people I will never meet again
the same with shirts and books and strange gifts and whistles that glow in the dark. We don’t know how they got there, but we are too soft-hearted to get rid of them.
Sometimes moving to another city solves the problem of clutter; but that technique does not work with telephone numbers. Like Mary’s little lamb they follow you around.
Experts say that to remain clutterfree, get rid of anything you haven’t used in six months. There are numbers inmy phone I haven’t used in six years. This is the time you discover who your friends are. They call regularly, and if they are good friends, they call you an obscene name and ask why you haven’t called in a while.