Monday, July 15, 2024

Bob’s Banter


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By Robert Clements

Let’s Talk Now..!
Many years ago I used to travel by the local train and quite enjoyed the journey. There were wonderful scenes outside, trees and greenery rushing by and giving you a sense of peace and quiet. I decided I’d travel once more, just for old time’s sake, and told my driver to wait at the end of the line, at the last station so I could enjoy the train ride and my nostalgia.
As I waited on the platform, I reminisced about the good old days when I did so much dreaming on the rides and was often, yes often lulled to sleep by the systematic talk the wheels had with the rails down below.
The train arrived and I got into it. The noise hit me even above the roar of the train picking up speed. It was as if the whole world was talking, shouting, cursing and yelling at the same time. I wondered whether there was some problem, as often in our country, everybody spoke at once if something bad had happened, each offering a solution and all creating more of a din than the chance of wise words being heard.
“What is it?” I asked the man who was next to me, “Something has happened?”
“Tomorrow!” said the man looking at me directly while I tried not to stamp on his feet.
“What tomorrow?” I asked, “We are talking about now. Right now!”
“Okay then day after tomorrow!” said the same man and I realised with a bit of embarrassment that he was speaking on his phone.
I ventured into the middle of the compartment and found that not a single person was looking out of the window, speaking with his neighbour or even like before enjoying a game of cards. Every single passenger was on the phone, disinterested with anything else, just smiling, frowning, yelling, whispering at an unknown person on the other end.
It was as if the train was not just filled with passengers but also loaded with all those they were speaking with.
It was quite a weight the rails were carrying!
I got off at the other end and walked to my car, looking forward to the silence inside. My driver was busy on the phone. I got in, waited for him to finish, then watched as he turned to me, “Did you enjoy the ride sir?” he asked.
My silence spoke more than any words could have done. I knew there was no point telling him about his phone which must have kept him company for the last hour or so.
The world has changed and the mobile has now become our companion, friend and constant source of entertainment. Nobody speaks to anybody next to them anymore. You need to get on the phone to speak even to the one who walks with you, or sits with you.
This happened a few days ago while talking to my friend Rufus on my cell and suddenly found him walking next to me; yet we continued conversing to each other through our instruments! Made me think the wily mobile is sure taking over our lives!
Here’s another incident, and I’m sure you’ve been in the same embarrassing boat as me. This happened when a friend, who said we hadn’t met for a long time, called me out for dinner, along with his family. “Hi,” I said as I walked into the hotel lobby. “Hello,” he said, winking at me, “you got the reservations?”
“What reservations?” I spluttered, “I thought you were taking me out? At least that’s what you told me when you called me?”
“Without reservations I cannot leave the country damn it!” he shouted, as he smiled at me, waved me in and continued yelling into his rather tiny phone while I looked on sheepishly.
His wife, a pretty woman and a mother of two equally good looking teenagers was already sitting inside the restaurant, along with her children. They looked like one big happy family as they all talked, shouted, laughed and cracked jokes. All this into their own fancy phones!
“You’re coming in a little late,” said his pretty wife, smiling at me with her eyes.
“No,” I said, “I’m right on time.”
“But if you come in late you’ll miss all our kitty party action!” she cried into her cute pink mobile, leaving me mortified at my stupidity.
“Hi uncle!” said his daughter across the table.
“Hi!” I said, “My word you’ve really grown, stop calling me uncle.”
“Uncle,” continued the girl talking into her yellow tinted instrument, “you’ve got to allow Shobha to come with us; we’ll see she comes back by eleven. Promise uncle, promise!”
She grinned at me and winked and I sheepishly winked back at her and turned to her younger brother, who seemed lost in thought. “How’s school?” I asked
“Algebra was terrible,” said the boy, “but I’ve taken notes and I’ll give them to you.”
“I don’t need any notes,” I smiled, “Luckily I don’t have to study Algebra anymore..”
“I can give you my geometry notes too if you’ll come out with me,” said the boy seductively, grinning at me and pressing his heavyweight Chinese phone tightly to his ear with anticipation. I looked away quickly and studiously studied the menu. “You’re become very quiet,” said my friend, giving me a nudge and sitting next to me.
“I guess you all are very busy” I said, looking at his smart cell lying still on the table. “But you can’t remain so quiet,” continued my friend shouting into the second phone, I’d forgotten he had.
“We’ll organize a lovely kitty party just for you!” said his pretty wife at my side, looking at me coyly.
“No, your dad isn’t coming along!” said her daughter, smiling at me.
“We’ll study Algebra, geometry and some new topics together,” said the son, winking at me.
I fled the restaurant, ran outside and heard my mobile ring. “Hey”, said my friend’s voice, “we haven’t chatted for a long time, let’s talk now..!”
Read more in the author’s motivational book DARE available on
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