Suresh Menon

Friday - - Contents - Suresh Menon is a writer based in In­dia. In his youth he set out to change the world but later de­cided to leave it as it is.

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.