By Martand Jha:
It was not long ago when people used to call each other at a particular time of a day to save their money and this used to result in long queues in front of certain shops which had STD/ISD/PCO written over it. Nearly every ration store in the streets of Delhi started these services. It used to be a very chaotic sight with people in the queue getting frustrated over the person who took a long time on the call. Petty fights, arguments and shouting was common near phone booths until mobile phones came and changed the whole landscape of communication in our society.
No longer would one encounter those situations where one had to wait for a long time for their turn to come up to call their near and dear ones. Now, everybody has their own mobile phone and they can call whenever they want. But, this transformation has gradually led to the complete disappearance of public phone booths in Delhi.
Shopkeepers closed their phone booths when they realised that it was a thing of a bygone era. Suddenly, a thing which was a part and parcel of everyone’s life became a thing of history.
Now coming back to present, many of us must have encountered a situation when our cell phones get discharged or in worst case scenarios, we have lost our mobile phone. In situations like this, we have no choice than to ask strangers to help us by letting us make a call to our family or someone important. Sometimes we get lucky and a good samaritan allows us to make a call but many a times people get suspicious and then they say ‘sorry, we don’t have balance in our phone’.
I am not blaming people here because the society we live in today, especially in metropolitan cities, it’s hard to trust strangers with your cell phone which is very personal to you. Due to this rampant trust deficit, people get stuck in problematic situations.
The situation becomes panicky when it happens to a girl and at the time of night, considering that Delhi is not perceived to be a safe city for girls (especially at night).
My only argument here is that public phone booths should be revived so that people are not left at the mercy of strangers to make a call. In every area of the city, there should be at least few public phone booths to make life easier for a layman.