Rings Well That Ends Well

Image for representation only

I am, as a rule, a cheerful individual.

My sunny outlook towards life dims a little when you tell me that the steak burger is no longer available at Burger King, or if you serve me sandwiches with the crust on, or if you point to a road in Pune and tell me that the Pune Metro will be coming up here. I am not, in other words, unrelentingly positive. But mostly so, I would like to think.

And that, I think, is the reason why I am not universally hated. Because of my disposition towards life in general. But if you were to ask me whether there is something about me that increases the chances of people thinking about me the way they do about GST (that is, universally disliked), then why, yes, I must answer in the affirmative.

It has something to do with my phone. A lot of people are of the opinion that I never pick it up.

“Ashish doesn’t take his calls” went from being a joke to something I might as well have tattooed on my forehead.

Now, you might think that I shall devote what remains of this column to defending myself against this charge, and possibly denying it.

Au contraire, dear reader, au contraire.

Not only do I admit to the charge, I take pride in it. I take calls when I wish to take them. And if I don’t wish to take them, I don’t. I let the phone ring, and I call back at my pleasure.

Because (and call me naive if you like, but I really do believe this) I am of the opinion that I purchased the phone for my convenience. The phone allows me to speak to people when I call them or when they call me. This much is true, and self-evident.

But at the time of purchase of said phone, I wasn’t, if I remember correctly, asked to sign a document forcing me to pick up the phone every time it rang. Were you?

Because society today seems to operate on the belief that we did sign such a document. “Because I didn’t want to” is today an unacceptable answer to the question “Why didn’t you pick up the phone?!” But as far as I’m concerned, it’s a perfectly acceptable thing to say. It cuts both ways, of course. I ought not to be aggravated when other people don’t pick up the phone (a problem I neatly sidestep by calling as few people as possible).

So if I’m watching a movie, or listening to a particularly nice song, or just staring out the window at nothing (this, lamentably, is becoming a lost art) and the phone rings, well, then, I let it ring. And after I’m done with the movie, the song, or looking out the window, I’ll return the call. Not immediately, I admit – maybe after making a cup of coffee for myself, maybe after a siesta – but I will call back eventually.

This approach makes for the occasional heated conversation with friends and family, and the odd remonstration from acquaintances, but apart from that, the gains far outweigh the costs. My life is quieter, it is lived on my own terms, and I can paint a pretty accurate picture of the scene from my window (rolling hills in the background, completely covered with greenery right now, thanks for asking). In fact, I argue that the world would be a better place if we all just stopped picking up our phones every time they rang. The next time it rings, do yourselves a favour, and prove Pavlov wrong. Trust me.

And now, if you’ll excuse me. There’s some hills I have to stare at.

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni