trains and cell phones

Categories: Exploring the World, India, Technology

I got on my first train ride today (last-night) – three-tier sleeper. not that bad actually. There are 8-beds per cabin – two sets of 3-tier bunks on one side of the cabin and a two-tier bunk on the other side – but no doors and the walkway runs through the center of the cabin, so you have people walking through to get the bathrooms on either side of each train car.

The atmosphere is kinda different though in that everyone just sits on the first bench which eventually will turn into the lower bunk of one of the three-tier beds. The rest of the spots were taken by local (obviously fairly educated and well-off) Indians. Eating dinner (they called it chicken biryiani but basically it was a boiled hunk of chicken covered by a lump of rice and topped with some onions. Edible but the regal name set expectations a bit too high), and sitting so close to everyone, you have no choice to be part of the conversation which is in Hinglish (mixed Hindi and English) – so i understood only about half of what was being said.

Indians name drop tech brand companies much in the same way rappers name drop brand names. ‘My sister works at Microsoft…’, ‘last week, Infosys openned…’, or ‘Did you know Peoplesoft…’; conversation interweaved between that and reviews of the latest Bollywood films and gossip. Until finally another person entered the cabin and delved into India’s other big obsession – politics… One tangent targeted technology and the government’s lack of control over it. In this guys view, it is the government’s fault that cell phones are pushing their ways into less than desired aspects of life. the fact that some 10-year old child has a phone is the governement’s fault because they don’t have a law banning it – not the parent’s fault for purchasing the phone.

apparently, these technologies are best suited to North America because ‘life is not as fast in North America as it is India’ (???) – North America also has better etiquitte to deal with phones – unaware to me, but if a phone rings on a bus in North America, the owner of the phone will be asked to either turn the phone to silent or to get of the bus. Since such a law would not work in India, the governement should just ban usage overall… I was too amused by the logic to rain on his parade and tell him that no such law exists.


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