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Dear Nokia 3310, We Had A Decent Time In The Past But We're Done For Good

Living with or without you.

16/05/2017 6:24 PM IST | Updated 16/05/2017 6:50 PM IST
Paul Hanna / Reuters

Dear New-And-Improved Nokia 3310,

I feel sad about you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as pleasantly surprised by your return as so many others of my generation — even though I am mildly piqued by your newly jazzed-up look.

But yeah, I know, that grim blue carapace of your earlier avatar was meant for another time, when not many people worried about matching their outfit with the colour of their cell phones.

We used you to call, send text messages, or leave "missed calls". But the thing that really won us over was Snake. Even millennials, who have probably never used a non-smartphone like you, played that addictive game on their parents' handsets as toddlers. Many of them must feel "much excite" on your return.

You were the first cell phone I held in my hand, a hand-me-down from a parent, and I resented you. Before I was saddled with you, I was a free agent, spending most of my days (and some nights) away from home. A phone call to our ancient BSNL landline about my plans was considered sufficient warning of my absence.

Then you came. And took my freedom away.

Every evening someone would call me from home asking about my dinner plans. At curfew hour a worried text would land up on my screen. That's how the family's remote-controlled electronic arms spread. These days when I go back home, sometimes I get a photo of the meal waiting for me sent to my WhatsApp. But I hide my feelings behind a well-chosen emoji.

A few months ago, I deactivated my 'last seen' and 'read notification' settings. I couldn't deal with the stress of those blue ticks. But you won't know what I'm talking about. Nor will you know anything about booking a cab by touching a phone screen a few times, tracking a route on GPS or that rare bliss of ordering food and groceries on a app without having to speak another human at the other end.

And I don't even want to get into dating apps. But you have hope in the dating world, too — in a perverse way. These days, you're more likely to be turned into the perfect phone to use after a break-up. With your limited access to the world, you will save your owner from fretting over WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, Grindr and the myriad other platforms that have filled modern romance with so much fragility and complications.

So many of us are probably secretly hopeful you'll help us get over our obsession with swipes, Likes, ticks, retweets, hearts and whatever emojis that rule our waking hours. Still, I'm less than certain of your chances of making a full comeback. Not at least in the way you were ubiquitous, before you decided to retire 12 years ago.

Then again, you may be just the perfect phone for America's Twitter-happy president to use. Now that's a special distinction.

Maybe we are, by now, too mired in our need for validation, to monitor the lives of those close (or not) to us 24x7? Maybe we are too comfortably settled in our everyday anxieties to let go of them? If we take you back into our lives, we must also learn to shed so many habits of being in the world. And that may involve facing questions and crises in ourselves we may not like one bit.

So please don't flatter yourself. Not so soon, anyway.

For the next few days, weeks, maybe even for some months, you may find yourself to be the craze of hipster hubs. But a fad is just that. A fad. My sincere apologies for being so blunt.

Believe me or not, I knew a lady who, for a while, used to pull out from her handbag a cordless landline phone, custom-made to look like a bakelite device, to make calls. Now she uses an iPhone like most people of her ilk.

Your cherry red or canary yellow exteriors and endless battery life will mean precious little once the selfies start coming out looking hideous in your 2 MP camera. Till then, enjoy all the nostalgic oohs and aahs you can get.

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