The SMS- and the long and short of it

I love short messaging service- SMS in common speak. Those ubiquitous little messages which pop-up on you mobile phone screen wherever you are, whenever. That brief telegraphic message- a query, a statement, a message, a piece of information. In short, they are brief. Informative or action-oriented. Their preciseness and call-to-action endears them to me. If you know me then it would come as no surprise to you that I am a big, big fan of the concept of SMS.

Sample the brevity and preciseness of such messages:

Subordinate to boss at 8.30 AM: “ ’M ill, rqst leave”. Boss’ prompt response: “OK, gt wl soon”.

By the way, I hate such SMS-ese. I am, strangely, into Queen’s English even in my messages. I even punch in the right punctuation marks at the appropriate places!

Husband to wife at 8pm: “Coming home with 4 colleagues for dinner. Pls keep ice cubes ready”. Wife: “Welcome, my love!! And would love to cook for your colleagues too

Now that was a hypothetical answer. On two accounts.

First, the wife rarely answers the SMS. The cell-phone is either buried deep inside her hand bag for her to even as much as hear the ringtone of the SMS coming in. Or her cell-phone is with the kids who are busy playing a game on it. She would rarely get the SMS in time. But, if she does, she would hardly give you the cheerful response as mentioned above.

Teenage daughter to father at 10pm: “Slpovr frnds plc. C u tom”. Dad’s response: “Sure beti, have fun”.

Never mind if the Dad is wondering what the daughter is up to. And never mind what the daughter is really up to.

There are other occasions when such telegraphic communications are called for; either to an individual or to a body of people. Sample these functional ones:

Flt delayed, reaching 4 hrs later

Send suit to launderer, meeting tomorrow

My new email ID is…..

And somewhat more dramatic, yet loaded with useful information:

New dad to friends: “Boy, 3 kg. Mom n kid, both well

Girlfriend to boyfriend: “Will return yr ring tomorrow by DTDC, calling it off

An ICCU patient to his friends and relatives: “Time’s ticking on me now, just had a massive cardiac

In short, SMS is the perfect medium to transfer tiny packets of information, or brief transactions. Short, sweet and instant.

What takes my goat is the over-usage of this feature.

Number one on my hate list are those silly jokes which typically are forwarded by people who do not know me well enough and are trying to endear themselves to me. People who know me will not send such stupid jokes as they know I can’t these. There are times when I have had to SMS back to these eager beavers to stop wasting their money and my time and stop these joke forwards.

Then there those which tell you to forward the SMS to 12 other people in case I want something great to happen to me in the next 72 hours. I just ignore these messages. However, if the messages warns me that if I do not send the mail to a specified number of people a severe calamity would befall me, I do not delete the message. I promptly call the sender and give him, or her, a piece of my mind. And it is only then I proceed to delete the message.

But there are some messages I cannot be so “rude” about. Like, for example, the flood of messages landing into the cellphone inbox during festival times. They swarm like pesky flies landing upon a lump of sugar during monsoons. My cell-phone keeps buzzing- I am sure all of yours do too- during the days preceding an important festival.

Those zillions of messages on my cell phone wishing me the best of wishes for a myriad of reasons. The obvious ones are for New Years, Holi and Diwali. And nearly all the regulars know that I do not reply to SMS greetings. But they persist. They keep flooding me with messages right from day minus 3. With texts like, “I know I am 3 days early, but what the hell, I thought I should be the first one to wish you a “Very, Very, Very Happy New Year”. Please note the emphasis (it is a bludgeon, really) on the word “very”. And to cap it all, this purported first-wisher is actually the 23rd one with this season’s greetings.

Another evergreen SMS greeting is around 3 people visiting the senders’ house. One promised wealth, the other success and the third offers happiness. Or, something similar. The sender happily transmits the happiness provider to my doorstep, albeit via my cell-phone. And there are a few thousand of these altruistic senders. I am overwhelmed by their (senders’) munificence. This is an evergreen one, for all occasions, just like the “I-want-to-wish-you-three-days-early” text.

Holi provides no respite. The same 3-day early promise and the same three visitors. But some of the Holi SMS’s have ditties with pepperings of gulaal, laal, gaal etc. Sometimes some other rhyming endings…baal, chaal, dhaal, haal, etc., depending on the sender and his sense of humour.

Some enterprising folks manage to do with the LCM be it Independence Day, Republic Day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, whatever. The SMS is the same, either it comes 3 days in advance or 3 old men get thrust into my doorsteps, wealth, success and happiness.

Things get hardly more creative when festivals are around. At Ganesh Chaturthi you get SMS’s which start with “Vakratunda” or “Vighnaharta”, or “Om Ganeshaya Namah”. The time of Durga Puja you receive similar stuff, though prefaced with stuff like “Ya devi”, “Narayani”, “Om Durgey Mata”.

Point to note is that none of the senders of such wonderful messages has created it on his/her own, all of these are forwards. They send to others what has fallen into their cell-phone inbox.

All this goes on, through the year. As I madly keep catching up with these.

Maybe I should program my cell-phone to respond to such messages. Like quoting the great Babbar Sher:

“Message bhej-bhej kar,

Mera bheja kharaab kartey ho,

Apna toh bheja hai nahin,

Doosron ka bheja hua bhejtey ho”.

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2 Responses to The SMS- and the long and short of it

  1. Ashutosh Ojha says:

    I marvel at the audacity of some enthusiastic sms addicts. They will wish you for Bakrid, Mahavir Jayanti, Navroze Mubarak, Republic Day, Ugadi, Chhath, Bihu and what not and forget to mention their identity while pressing the send button. In my case I have to figure out which member of my team of 1150 across India is sending me his/her heartfelt wishes for the above festivals.

  2. Ashish says:

    You have uncanny knack of taking a simple topic and writting an interesting narrative around it!

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