Before you think I’m going to head off on some Mills & Boon romance thing, don’t worry, I’m not. This love affair is not of the romance kind but with a little gadget that no Indian can resist the charms of.
It is the mobile phone.
All around you see people clutching their mobile as if their life depends on it. I ask a member of staff to come in to my office, they will bring their mobile phone. We go in to the meeting room, they bring their mobile phone
What’s even more amazing is the inability to let a phone simply ring or turn it on silent. If a phone rings, an Indian has some built in desire to answer it, regardless of where they are or what they are doing.
For example, a couple of weeks ago we were interviewing someone for the position of Office Manager. Now common sense dictates it would be natural to turn our phone off or put it on silent during an interview, infact, one could say it would be foolish to go with your mobile switched on. But that’s not what I’ve experienced in India. In the middle of the interview, this guy’s phone goes off. Far from being mortified, he casually took the phone out of his pocket, and with barely an “excuse me” glance went on to answer it and have a conversation.
It doesn’t matter what the situation, they have an overwhelming desire to answer the phone. Here’s another example. The other day I went to a proper Muslim wedding. During the actual ceremony, loads of people were just chatting away on their mobiles, phones were ringing (and being answered!).
How about in a cinema, the ultimate faux pas would be to have your mobile phone go off in the middle of the film. Here, the majority of people are chatting away on their phones! The film soundtrack is accompanied by a cacophony of ringing cellphones.
Particularly annoying is the use of the mobile phone in the work place. Where one might think twice about taking a personal phone call while we are working, with alarming regularity you see guys and girls (mostly girls, from my unscientific observations) scurrying out of the office with their phone attached to their ear.
One of the contributing factors is that talk is so cheap. We’re talking less than a penny for a minute of talk time. Very rarely do they text one another, which is the preferred method of communication in the UK.
So there you go, another cultural learning experience for you 🙂