Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Lost Phone


I got a call from a friend, Samudra at about 10:30 pm asking me to join for a cup of tea at Gurdwara. For people who don't know, there is a very famous tea joint near the Elgin Road Gurdwara. People from far off places come here for a "bhand" of tea. People generally come after having dinner and it's normal to find crowd here till mid-night.

Getting back to the story, I said that i won't be able to join because i was home after months and wanted to spend some time with my family. But giving in to his persuasion, i put on a jacket and stepped out. The whether was chilly ( by Kolkata standards). I walked my way through the mildly foggy night to Gurdwara. I found Samudra and Anu, common friend of ours, both holding a phone close to their ears. I jutted in and greeted them with the customary, "Hi Guys". Samudra said that he had lost his phone - Motorola L9. I got a bit serious. Anu was casual though. He told me that the phone might have slipped out of his jacket in the cab, by which they came to Gurdwara. I asked some stupid questions, like, do u know the name of the driver/car number? Of course, he didnt know. And i bet most people dont remember the number of the cab in which they travel. That is the last thing one would like to remember ( think again).

I asked him to call up the service provider's (Smart) helpdesk to see if they can track the phone. But it wasn't easy. Neither I nor Anu had used Smart phone and didn't know the number through which one can contact the helpdesk from other service providers' connection. So i suggested him to call up any friend of his who was using Smart and ask him to call up the helpdesk and ask for the number. Anu, during all this, was trying to call up Samudra's phone, expecting (?) that the taxi driver would pick up the phone. Samudra, could not recollect number of any friends having Smart connection. Hasn't the technology made us worse? I used to remember at least 10 numbers before i got my first mobile. But after getting a mobile, i don't remember even the number of the person whom i call 10 times a day. Samudra called up one of his classmates, asking him to give him the number of their classmate having Smart connection. I forgot the names of both his friends (whom he called up and the other "Smart" guy). Samudra called up the other Smart guy and asked him to enquire about the helpdesk number.

Anu was still listening to the irritating "not reachable" message. Samudra, got his senses back and asked, out of formality, whether we wanted to have tea. I denied. Anu wanted to have one. He wasn't tensed. Finally, we got the call from the "Smart" guy who gave us the helpdesk number. Just forgot to add - Samudra, had gone to a nearby PCO to check if they knew the number but in vain (No wonder i forgot to mention it before ;-)). Samudra called up the helpdesk and after the usual long time, the customer care executive picked up and told that they cant help in anyway apart from barring the number. Period.

Samudra, then, called up his home. Well, a little flashback here. Before coming to Gurdwara, Samudra was near Purna Cinema. His parents had asked him to come home early for no specific reason. Samudra, in a holiday mood, thought of going for a tea-chat before going home. Back to current story. His dad, having faith is police, suggested that we file an FIR.

So, we took a taxi and headed towards the "nearest" police station. In the taxi, i narrated the incident to the Taxi driver (don't worry, i am not going to repeat it). We requested him to inform us if he found any co-taxi driver finding a phone ( of course, we exchanged numbers).

We, then, entered the police station. It was something like 11:15 pm. We again narrated the entire incident. The policeman asked if we remembered the car number. We said, we didnt. So, he said that how do we expect them to find the phone ( how true!!). He, nevertheless, asked us to write all the details and submit it to Kalighat Thana because the area where the phone got lost was under Kalighat thana's jurisdiction. This was heights. Anyway, we came out and decided to go to Kalighat Thana the next morning.

Meanwhile, we kept trying Samudra's lost phone. Suddenly, when were leaving the police station, the phone rang. Somebody picked up. Samudra said that it is his phone and had dropped it in the taxi. The person asked us to collect it at Forum, where he currently was. We asked him, about his car no, to which he didn't reply. However, he said that his name was Prem Chand.

We caught a taxi and headed towards Forum. We enquired each taxi there to check if it were "Prem Chand's". We kept asking taxiwalas which stopped there. We were there till 1 pm asking all the drivers if they were Prem Chand. One taxiwala, said he was!! We requested him to give back the phone. He was shocked. He seemed to get a bit nervous. He confessed that he thought that we are potential passengers looking for this Prem Chand driver. Finally, we thought of going to Kalighat Thana the next morning.

Next morning we reached Kalighat thana at about 10 o'clock. The moment i entered the thana i was overwhelmed with the vision I saw there. We were asked to be seated on a chair and wait till our turn comes. I observed, how different was a police station from the corporate offices.

First, the "babu" culture struck me. People spend too much of energy in useless (?) sycophancy. When an officer came, everybody, including the civilians sitting there, stood up leaving all the work aside. And saluted him. This might be showing respect to him, but i wonder whether it serves any practical purpose. I am a software engineer. In our office or for that matter in any of the IT offices, we don't see this culture. Work takes the priority. If I am in between something and my boss comes to my cube, i can, without any hesitation, ask him to wait till i finish the work. Even he would appreciate this. After all, our common goal is to get the work done. But here, the person (probably a senior officer) took more priority than the work!!

Second, i was simply amazed by the way the shelves there we hosting "files". I wondered whether they had ever heard of a device called computer? how would they find out a particular file from the "lot". Haven't they heard of anything called database? The truth seemed to be very different from what is projected. India is considered IT HUB. We, supposedly, seem to have an edge over other companies in the field of IT. But, here, in the police station, they still stayed in primitive way. We always crib about the police not doing it's work properly, blah blah... But have we ever thought of upgrading the infrastructure? ITising the police stations/system would certainly speed up the processes.

Third. In a time when we are talking of world as a global village with virtual cyber-continents, we have to run from place to place so that the information goes to the right blackhole. If we had an online FIR filing system, we would have filed the FIR that night itself. This wasn't a critical case. But had a critical case being delayed by hours because one had to go to the right police station, we can only imagine what could have happened.

Anyway, it was, i would say, a different experience for me!!

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