Bunny recently outsmarted a smartphone. We’d heard of smartphones. Like we’d heard of flying saucers, and of the giant Hadron collider which scientists have been using to discover whether the Higgs-Boson god particle actually exists. But, as in the case of flying saucers and the giant Hadron collider, we’d never actually met a smartphone. Not until our friend Rajiv got himself one.
Something or the other, to which no one present seems to know the answer, crops up in conversation. Like who won the last but one assembly by-election in the Phalana-Dhimka district of Gujarat. Or whether it was Mukesh or Mohammed Rafi who did the voice-over for the hero in the Dilip Kumar-starrer Naya Daur. Or what the mean temperature in Vladivostok is during the winter solstice.
And before you know it, Rajiv has whipped out his smartphone, performed some tantric jantar-mantar with it, and come up with the answer to whatever the question was: the winner of the Phalana-Dhimka by-election, the playback singer for Naya Daur, the mean winter solstice Vladivostok temperature. In Celsius, as well as Fahrenheit. So there.
It’s spooky. It’s the electronic age equivalent of a magical brass lamp with an inbuilt know-it-all genie at your command. And Rajiv is not the only person we know who’s got his own rent-agenie in the form of a smartphone. A number of our other friends have got them as well.
The result is that what is called peer pressure – also known as keeping up with the Joneses, though of course in India it wouldn’t be the Joneses, but the Suris, or the Mathurs, or some such – began to build up on Bunny to join the smartphone set. Being so technologically challenged that for a long time i imagined the keyboard formulation called QWERTY to be an umbrella organisation for LGBT fraternities, i was automatically excluded from any such pressure. My getting a smartphone would be like Manmohan Singh being given a gift voucher for Elocution Lessons on Public Speaking. Gee, thanks. But what the heck am i supposed to do with the darn thing?
So Bunny dutifully began to bone up on smartphones. She found out that the name of the genie inside smartphones was Android, Andy to friends. And Andy had something called apps, which are to Andy what abs are to John Abraham, a sort of existential defining trait: i apps, therefore i am.
Thanks to its apps, your personalized Andy could play you music, show you a film, tell you what time it was on the planet Mars, and teach you Gangnam style horse dancing in Seven Easy Steps. All this for about 30,000 bucks, plus or minus change.
Then Bunny asked herself a question: did she really want – for 30,000 bucks, plus or minus change – something that would every day, in every way show her how much smarter it was than her? How smart – or how dumb – was that? That’s when Bunny outsmarted the smartest smartphone ever invented. By deciding not to buy a smartphone.
This article by Jug Suraiya appeared in Times of India on December 14, 2012.