By Nishiraj A. Baruah
It is love at first sight. I fall for her. But barely into our seven-month relationship, she falters and falls. An accident that leaves her with bruises all over her body. Bruising my heart. Like a limb or an arm, she has almost become a part of my body and now with injury marks all over her, she leaves me equally wounded – brutal stabs on my mind, body and soul.
“Oh god!” my colleagues at work sigh as they crowd around my inseparable partner. Everyone was excited and impressed by her when I introduced her to my folks at work.
She is gorgeous, of course. With all the curves a man desires. It is her looks that had me drool all over her. No prizes for guessing then why I always carry her along, flaunting her. At edit meetings in the office, I am acutely aware of all the furtive glances my colleagues throw at her. Making me puff up with pride.
After all, she isn’t one of those wannabe, me-too Vivo or Oppo or Gionee, you see. She is a stunner – the Samsung S7 Edge, the screen seamlessly curving at the sides, her body slim and sleek, her back shiny and sexy.
And now she is down and out. The front glass panel of the phone is completely gone. “Tcch!” my colleagues sigh. “Such an expensive phone!” another breathes out. “Will cost you a fortune now to get it done!” another one rues. “That’s why I never buy costly phones,” my deputy editor Rinika concludes in profound wisdom. With all the sympathetic outpourings, I must admit I am actually enjoying all the attention courtesy my phone.
The screen size is big enough to make you feel important but small enough to be snuggled into my palms. Even my friend Zinia, owner of an iPhone 6, a reader of Kafka and Coelho, connoisseur of cognac and cigars, says S7 is the classiest phone she has ever seen.
“Why don’t you put a cover on it?” friends and family would often advise. “But what’s the point,” I would counter. “I don’t wanna hide her looks for which I spent so much!”
I have always used good looking phones, and they are invariably expensive, never mind the equally expensive repairs I had had to do several times. A chronic phone dropper, the accidents were no less dramatic: If I had managed to get my iPhone drenched in water while playing Holi, another time my Galaxy Note was crushed to pulp by happy feet (just like tomatoes in Spain’s Tomatina fest), after it fell off my pocket on a dance floor. But nothing doing, I would rather take the risk than put a cover. Cover would simply make her look fat. Even those transparent back and front covers won’t do.
The S7 Edge looks nicer naked.
Besides, I find the idea of putting covers pretty downmarket – a very middle class mindset that has people covering up their TVs, washing machines, and ‘expensive’ home appliances. You know the types – those who refuse to remove the polythene covers off the seats of their brand new car.
As I meet people for work and make new friends at parties, I am always aware and conscious of my S7’s chic presence within my palm. Just as your eyes never fail to wander across to the wrists that don a Patek Philippe or a Ulysse Nardin, the S7 Edge also never fails to draw in the eyeballs. She is a palm candy for sure.
Like I said, it is her looks that made me fall for the S7. But it turns out she is also a phone with substance. Beauty with brains. In terms of tech and functionality, she is unbeatable. I realise that when Zinia, a television producer, decides to use my S7 instead of using her iPhone 6 to shoot professional videos, stills and to record sounds.
“Nishi’s phone is absolutely fantastic,” she declares around a bonfire in Mechukha, a remote town bordering Tibet in Arunachal Pradesh, where we had gone to cover an adventure festival. Even in the minimal light of a live fire, everyone (and that included National Geographic photographers, documentary filmmakers, rock musicians, paragliders) agreed when it comes to shooting with phones, this one has no comparisons. None of their phones – iPhones, HTCs etc – could produce such stunning results as mine did. Needless to say, the glow on my face was not just because of the fire.
And then the inevitable happens. She falls. With my heart beating, I stoop down to pick her up. Expecting the worst. Hoping for the best. You know that feeling – climbing out of your car with million emotions to inspect for any possible damage after you have just rammed it somewhere.
I look at the front panel. I stare hard. It’s gone. Million cracks. Like a land during acute drought. F#@$! Why do they make phones that can’t survive a fall? Or is it deliberate? So that Samsung continues to profit from your phone everytime it breaks?
“Good,” Zinia says, “Now buy a cheap phone!”
Of course, everyone at office cringes when they see my broken phone. My broken S7 Edge becomes a topic for water cooler gossip. With a live example of her vulnerability, some of my colleagues wanting to buy the S7 are now having second thoughts.
The Samsung service centre guy who comes to pick up my phone from office (just like cars, S7 comes with services like doorstep pick-up and delivery) throws me a shocker: It would cost me Rs 14,000 to replace the screen. “But I have warranty. She isn’t even a year old,” I say. “The warranty doesn’t cover external damages,” he parrots the company policy. “You should have got insurence,” he says. But no one at the Samsung store suggested that when I bought the phone!
I write to the Samsung Corp com dept. and request for a discount. To my delight, they offer me a 50 per cent media discount. So then my beloved is back to me as good as new. I am happy again, as happy as a dog lover who has just found his lost dog back.
So my love affair with the phone continues as I travel to Dibrugarh, my hometown in Assam. In this tea town, I use her to take images that captures the natural beauty of the place in all its brilliance: The green tea gardens in front of my house looks lush, the bhoot jolokias (ghost pepper) looks red hot, the Brahmaputra a picture of pristine blue. I take pictures of betel nut trees, green pepper, olives and banana plants growing in our garden, sharing them on Facebook to rave reviews. With no editing required, no filters used, the S7 captures the place like the way it is.
As I go about town meeting childhood friends and other youngsters, I can almost see the reverence on their faces when I take my phone out with a flourish and feed phone numbers of long lost friends. It’s like climbing out of your BMW or Jaguar in front of a shop, several people watching you. There is always a silent acknowledgement of a superior presence.
And then I go to a Bihu (festival) party at the Gymkhana club, Dibrugarh’s poshest club peopled by tea planters and top docs and business tycoons and senior govt officials. I would have expected them to carry expensive phones. But nah, my S7 underlines my presence in style. Sure the evening is enjoyable, only that I had no idea then that the very next day I would be left mourning.
How did that happen? The cracks on the glass back of the phone? I don’t remember dropping her anywhere. Or was I too drunk to remember anything? Another heartbreak! More expenses. At least six thousand rupees.
Not upto spending more money, I now carry the phone in a way that the cracked portion remains hidden by my palms. Only that my tragedy doesn’t end there.
And this time my life comes to a grinding halt. The phone is on a charger when an uncle of mine visiting us in Dibrugarh gets drawn to her by its shiny sleek identity. And decides to flirt with her. And as he does so, she, refusing to be in another man’s grip, decides to commit suicide, just like Padmavati, slipping out of the electric socket.
Standing in a far corner, I notice it all but pretend not to have seen it – I don’t want to make him uncomfortable. To his credit, he comes upto me to tell me that the phone has dropped from his hands. “This is no way to charge a phone,” he says, pointing to the narrow switchboard on which the phone was parked. Has the phone broken?? To my relief, no. But something worse than that happens.
Her face turns a sickly green. The screen flickering like a tubelight on steroids, with serious potential to damage the eyes. It displays nothing, the light flickering, the data not visible. Camera. WhatsApp. Facebook, Yahoo mail, other apps, and most importantly contacts… nothing is visible, her face wearing a deadpan expression.
My moha (uncle) is visibly nervous. “Don’t worry, I will take her to the service centre,” I assure him. I don’t want him to feel bad. Only that I don’t realise that it is gonna cost me another big bomb.
Rs 18,000! Both the front display screen and the back panel need to be changed. And it will take at least 10 days to get the phone back. Her body parts have to be brought in from Guwahati. Shit!! I don’t think Moha will pay for it – he is a freeloader!
At home when mom asks if my phone has got ok, I tell her, making sure Moha is within earshot: “No mom, it’s gonna cost me Rs 18,000!” Moha doesn’t know how to react.
Zinia is furious when I call her to inform. “Ensure your uncle pays you,” she says in no uncertain terms. “No yaar, I can’t be asking him for money,” I say.
Without the phone I am now virtually handicapped, all my numbers ambushed by the deathly green colour on the screen.
I fish out an old Nokia smart phone from my mom’s shelves, only that it isn’t getting connected to the net to install WhatsApp, FB, etc. I miss the phone camera terribly everytime I go for a morning walk along the tea gardens or by the Brahmaputra; I miss my phone again when I land at Guwahati to cover the Rongali festival. I miss my phone camera when I go to Kaziranga National park where sitting on an elephant back, I want to take pictures of the rhinos and their cubs ambling in magnificent morning mist. You just don’t feel like taking pictures with any other phones when you have done that with splendid results with the S7. Not even Zinia’s iPhone can match they way she sees the world.
What to do! Should I simply cough up Rs 18,000? But I am in the middle of building a tea garden villa and every penny matters. With that kind of money I can actually buy tiles for an entire bathroom.
So there she is lying on my desk. In coma. Still pretty. Yes, she can spring back to life, but I can’t afford her treatment.
I am angry at Samsung. Why do they make phones that have people falling for them only to break hearts when they break in the first fall?