The commuter's lament: If you can afford a smartphone, you can afford a pair of earphones

The commuter’s lament: If you can afford a smartphone, you can afford a pair of earphones

On board the Bangalore-Chennai double-decker train a couple of months ago—a trip I was excited about, as I hadn’t had the chance in over two years—all eyes were on me as I took the window seat in the air-conditioned recliner car.

I waited for the noise and movement of people inside the bus to settle in to immerse myself in the countless scenes and lives that pass through a film reel.

That was when an old Tamil movie song left off. Upon inspection, I noticed that the source of the noise was a cell phone belonging to an elderly gentleman on the aisle in the same row as me. At first, I thought it was a caller tune. As the song continues, I look at the person in the second seat to my left. He was also watching videos of old Tamil hits on his phone, thoroughly enjoying himself, nodding, waving his right hand like a music maestro leading a choir.

I looked at the gentleman again and felt it would be very rude to tell him to use earphones. I waited with another three or four songs playing. He was clearly in no mood to stop.

Swallowing my annoyance, I politely asked, “Excuse me sir. Could you please use earphones?”

He looked at me, confused and said, “I have nothing,” with a look of “what nonsense are you talking about.” Backing off, I asked him to lower the volume and he obliged.

Until recently, on a trip from Srinagar to Delhi, a woman playing a video aloud of her son—about two to three years old—was sitting next to me. When I asked her to lower the volume, she said, “Bacche hain, nahin manenge” (“The children won’t listen”). This was apart from letting the child hop on the seats with her shoes on, pulling things out of the seat pocket and throwing them around with napkins and food crumbs, sitting taking selfies.

These are not rare occurrences while traveling these days. And not everyone is as obligated as the old man. As if having other passengers snoring loudly with their heads bobbing between their shoulders wasn’t enough!

At airports or bus stations, on a flight or on buses, while waiting in public offices, at railway stations, on trains – every possible place that people think is their private property, one’s patience is tested by this mobile phone-mania video .

Generations X, Y, and Z, who are often eager to have their grandparents and young children e-literate, should teach them mobile phone etiquette. You may have the world on your mobile phones but it is important to remember that the world is not yours alone. Others need their space too! I speak on behalf of everyone who is tortured in public by the noise of other people’s cell phones.

I may not be in the mood to listen to the sounds of loud bhajans when I’m exhausted, returning from a hectic trip, or suffering from insomnia headaches. When I’m inside a train after chasing another and missing it, I don’t want to listen to the dialogue and sound effects of an action movie. On an early-morning flight, without a twinkle of sleep in my system, after a long day’s work, I can sue someone playing cartoon videos to silence their difficult child, while they themselves enjoy boisterous conversations with other passengers.

I wouldn’t play my favorite video out loud even on a private plane with just my crew. I see no reason to insist that others listen to what I love! It’s like telling other passengers, “You can’t sleep now,” or “You can’t read now,” or “You can’t think now”; “Just listen to what I’m watching.” People who can afford a smartphone can buy a pair of earphones.

Authorities must enact laws and ensure they are strictly enforced to punish those who encroach on the mind space of others with a mobile phone. We should make earphones compulsory while using mobile phones in public places. booster shots for COVID-19 It can wait for the mobile video mania to be treated as a national nuisance and to put an end to the cacophony.

yamini.nair@expressindia.com


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