It was an ordinary wednesday morning and I was walking along the Santacruz skywalk. I had just got done talking with my colleague regarding my appointments for the day. Out of habit I checked for any messages I might have received since I had last checked and as expected, I had 3 unread messages. I was texting and walking simultaneously, when I bumped into someone. I apologized without as much as even looking up. I had only walked a couple steps more when a plump lady in white salwaar kameez, who too was engrossed in her phone (watching some video with her earphones plugged in), bumped into me making me drop my phone shattering its screen.
I looked at her retreating profile and called out,”HEY!” with both my hands raised in an utter displeasure. She did not even notice. However, what surprised me was, neither did anybody else notice any commotion. Given that we Indians have a reputation to leave all work at hand and huddle up at slightest disturbance, I felt completely ignored and uncared for.
I picked up whatever was left of my phone and attempted to restart it in vain. Pushing the phone away in my bag and making a mental note to immediately visit a phone store at the earliest, I began walking again. My thoughts were still intrigued though by the way I was neglected by everybody when I noticed a young beggar’s kid (about 5 or 6 years of age) carving a horse out of a piece of wood. I had always seen this kid when I walked by, but never observed him. The precision and speed with which he was slicing the wood with an old Swiss knife (which I suspect he must have picked from some place or stolen it from someone) it demanded every bit of my admiration.
I went closer and stooped low so that I could observe his art better, he suddenly became aware of my presence and looked up with the widest smile his tiny face could muster. He dived in is rough jute sack and pulled out a couple wooden figures that he had carved and presented them all to me. I singled out a particular elephant which he immediately quoted “forty rupees, sahib.” I paid him a fifty rupee note and asked him to keep the change.
I wondered how I had never noticed him before. I did not have to think long for the answer; it was all around me. Everywhere I looked, everyone I saw were entirely absorbed in their mobile devices. Some in deep conversations, a few checking out text messages while others enjoying music/video. Not one of them cared about his/her surroundings.
Alas! Terminator has actually come true. The machines have enslaved the humans (of course, quite differently than delineated in the movie). I wanted to shout out to them, draw their attention to the obvious slavery. But who would listen? How many would even care? We humans have got into a deep rooted comfort zone with these gadgets. Taking them away will cause an existential crisis to most of us.
So what should I do now that the realization has dawned upon me? Should I continue my ignorant bliss or should I get out of my comfort zone and actually my life?