After three days, I am finally connected to the internet once again. More pertinently, I am still off mobile phone because I decided not to activate international roaming and am not yet in India. When I arrived in Paris a week ago, I felt lost. I know the city well, speak its language, and yet, I felt totally cut off from the rest of the world. Arriving as I did on Saturday night, I had no time to go check with Orange on why the France sim card I was carrying would not work. And Paris being Paris, everything is closed on Sunday. Yes…I mean everything. Even supermarkets and pharmacies! This basically meant that I went all of Saturday and Sunday without a working mobile phone connection. Work started in full swing on Monday and I realized that I would have no time at all to go get a mobile connection.
After feeling slightly out-of-touch for a few days, I settled in. I realized I got by perfectly well without a working mobile connection, and with limited internet access. I came to enjoy the small things like observing people while having dinner, carrying on a conversation without obsessing about who is texting me or tweeting to me. After a very long time, I realized that some things in life can only be enjoyed if we cut ourselves off, at least momentarily, from the world wide web and from mobile telephony. Without the constant buzz of my wifi-enabled, EDGE-connected smartphone, I realized I was actually noticing more of the world that I ever have over the past year.
The point here is not to decry the use of mobile phones or mobile internet. I would be guilty of that addiction myself. But somehow, I got the impression that by staying connected with friends on every network possible (BlackBerry, What’s App, Twitter, GTalk, text AND FB), we deny ourselves the joys of a real meeting. What can be so urgent that we feel the need to tell the world through FB or Twitter about a beautiful pebble beach, even before we have fully taken in that experience ourselves? Really? What are we running away from? Are we so insecure with ourselves that we feel the need to connect with others 24/7? Or is it peer pressure? Or am I just overreacting? I know that this temporary absence from the web and from telephone was forced. Left to myself, I would never have cut myself off voluntarily from the internet or my phone. But now that I know what it feels like, maybe I should do this one day in a month. Just maybe!