Yes, mobile phones and wifi are almost second nature to us. Similar to the air we breathe and the water we drink, isn’t it? After all, what is the first thing we do when we wake up, turn to the mobile phone and check our emails or social media. Of course, we don’t need to do it. Heck, we’d be better off without doing it as most articles tell you but don’t we all just do it like those little robots who have been programmed to reach out for that phone as if that is how life is meant to be lived.
But then, imagine if you had limited wifi connection (very limited) and no phone calls that you could make. Do I see you shake your head in absolute shock? Well, that was how the past two weeks have been for me since I was on an overseas vacation. With no local SIM cards and limited wifi accessibility only at airports and the places of our stay, this felt very weird and crippling also in ways. Every time I wanted to reach out to google to figure something out or wished to call/message, I glared at my almost useless phone and put it away to be brought out with vigour where I could get some wifi.
But there were beautiful memories that were carved out of these internet-free moments. We met three friends while in Europe and we did not have any way to call them on our mobile/whatsapp them on the go. We decided where we would meet, often a park or a public place and then had a pleasant time seeking each other. The glee when we spotted one another was unmatched, very unlike the coordinated meets we do otherwise where we are often just a finger tap away on the phone. How locatable we are these days? Mobile phones with wifi keep us reachable at all times. We are always checking mails and messages and reacting to notifications as our cellphones buzz incessantly. It has become the only normal for our times. I am not shaming it just stating the fact.
Taking a cab was quite challenging too as most cab drivers don’t even have a rudimentary understanding of English. So, we called for Uber, but couldn’t call the driver. Can you imagine how nerve-wracking it was because the wifi was only accessible inside the airport? So while one of us stayed close to the airport to catch the wifi so we could see how the driver’s vehicle was progressing another ran to the parking. The children kept trying to locate the numberplate in other directions. It was till we finally managed to locate the cab which was parked some distance away.
When you are low on resources, you figure other ways out. Hence, the husband downloaded an offline google map of the city that came in handy when we looked for directions to a place we wished to visit as we travelled extensively on local public transport. Apparently, the map did not download completely hence we found ourselves feeling like Jesus as we walked on water (as the bridge on the map had not downloaded). That gave us a few squeals of laughter. All this added to the adventure value of the trip.
I am sure there are payphones but certainly not at any place where we could locate them. So, despite having mobile phones, we did not receive or make phone calls for two weeks except for a couple of WhatsApp calls when we did have limited connectivity. Quite something in today’s day and age!
And not having wifi on the go meant that we were hardly engaging with our phones. It has been a long time since as a family we walked, talked and had so much fun together instead of staring lovingly at our mobile phone’s monitors. We cooked when we bought local produce; we sang loudly to Bollywood songs on youtube; we admired the dogs that were omnipresent all over Europe; we walked miles everyday; we enjoyed interacting with locals and smiled at their enchanting accents as they struggled with English. We experienced and soaked in the large cities. Yes, it was fun. A few days without phones or internet does not kill you. It is actually quite enjoyable. Tell me, you will try it!
Have you had similar experiences?
Pic courtesy: Adamr at FreedigitalPhotos.net