Way back in the nineties, telephone was still a novelty and obviously mobile phones were unheard of.
Call charges were high in the morning and there were reduced rates for the evenings and late nights. Which meant that we girls in the hostel of Maharani’s College Mysore rarely spoke to our family. The office was open in the mornings when we had college and even if someone was in her room, who could call her with the exorbitant morning rates. So we were practically dependent on the IPS, no not the police but the Indian Postal System. And without fail most of us would be writing a letter to our family each week and then waiting for a reply.
But then who does not like to speak to family/friends. There was a telephone booth just across the road but it was always crowded with the office-goers or ……boys. Then our warden had the genius idea of fixing a ‘coin wala dabba’ where in we could call our Local Guardians or our family could call us if we passed on the phone number of the dabba.
The day the phone was fixed was a day of festivity. The guy from the telecom department took a lot of time to fix it obviously he loved the attention and the company.
The common area was always crowded henceforth. And there was never a moment of peace. Be it early morning or late night, someone was always at the phone.
But yours truly had another idea.
Late into the night when everyone was busy preparing for the next day, I crept down along with a roommate dialed my sister’s number in Mumbai. You may say what is strange about that there are public booth systems where in you can make STD/ISD calls BUT this was fixed for only local calls. ‘Is it Bombay?’, I asked. ‘Illa amma, idu Mysuru’, a man boomed. ( No amma it is Mysore) Dejected I kept the phone down. But did I stop a t that. No, not at all. I kept on trying. Until one fine day I spoke to my sis. 🙂 Yes, I did. What followed was pandemonium. I called my sis every other day. My parents at that time did not have a phone connection, so-called them at a friend’s place who had a phone, spoke to them too. Slowly the other girls too came to know of our jackpot and we all had a merry time all at the cost of one rupee.
But do good times last, no, they don’t. The telecom department got a hint and they came to remove the faulty unit. there was an inquiry. All kept mum. For once, there was unity. Our brief period of bliss ended too soon.
But memories of that time, still bring on a smile.