Saturday, 22 November 2014

Mobile Phone

The introduction of mobile network in Bhutan had changed the life of the Bhutanese people. The shouts, calling neighbors in the evening are seldom heard in villages. The maximum of 6000 subscribers was the expectation of the telecom company. The cost of the sim card used to be Nu. 600 initially, now it is almost free, with the free talk time one get on purchasing the sim, equal to the cost of the sim card.

It had become easier for the miscreants like amateur kidnappers to extort money, contacting through mobile phones. The mobile towers on the peak of the highest mountain offers good coverage in the reserve forests of bordering Indian territories, than in the broken and undulating territories within Bhutan for which it was intended. Easy excess to procure sim card to lure in more customer base by the telecom companies needs to be seriously revisited.

Many people got married meeting via mobile phone calls and equal numbers got divorced because of that. Many of the car accidents must have been caused by talking on the phone while driving but it is conveniently blamed on the mechanical failure of the car - especially brake fail.

I did not buy the mobile phone while it was launched and while the calls were free for some duration, thinking that I would not require mobile phones. But due to the social pressure I got myself one mobile phone (Nokia) and a sim whose number I still remember 17605789, my whole family shared this mobile. Once when one of my relative visited me in Thimphu it was given to him, so that we can contact him. The network coverage that time was limited to only Paro, Thimphu and some parts of Wangdue. Incidentally the ring tone of the mobile was set to a sound of a child crying. Later when we tried to call the number, the calls were rejected or never picked up by the relative. After he was home, when asked why he did not picked up the calls he told us that the phone never rang, he also told us that the phone did make noise of a child crying so he had tough time making it stop.

After I went out of the country for a year, I lost my number - 17605789 and when I tried to get it back I was told that it no more belonged to me and it fell in the category of golden numbers for which I may have to pay some amount to get the same number. So I got myself a new number.

Abroad, the mobile phones were most necessary thing. The invitations for work, updating of accounts and other important things come to you as sms or in email. Even for bus and train travels the smart cards were used. Shopping is done just by swapping a either debit or credit card. For all transactions the numbers moves in the background and cash were seldom used.

Within a short period of time Bhutan caught up with the developed countries in terms of mobile communication technologies. Now we can see in one household there are at least three to four mobile phones. It had become an indispensable part of a personal possession. With the introduction of sms banking the mobile phones had become all the more important.

With smart phones it does more than just talking and texting. Due to the internet connection in the mobile phones the sharing to files (which is seldom resorted to), photos and movies had become easier. Facebook, wechat, whatsapp, viber, etc had brought the friends and (good looking) strangers closer.  The world had become smaller, an interesting incident happening somewhere is spread within no time and everyone knows about it.

It is indeed an age of information.