Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Let the unknown remain anonymous

May 11, 2012: Last week I met a lady in Delhi whom I have known for few years now but met her in person only a couple of times. She has quite a say in Delhi’s social and cultural circuit and I know her work keeps her very busy.
After the meeting I asked her what is the best time to talk to her. She said, “Any time, but send me a text message first.” She also made a point to assure me that she would see my text message as my number was saved in her mobile phone. Pointing to her mobile she said that she never reads text messages from unknown numbers and showed me the crazy number of unopened text messages in her phone's inbox.
She told me that she performs a weekly ritual of deleting all the SMSs from her phone - without opening them. I have known people not taking calls from or calling back unknown numbers. Even I do so at times. But not reading SMSs from unknown numbers was something I had never heard of before. The normal practice is that if you are calling an unknown person it makes sense to text them and then call up or wait for the person to call back.
But Lutyen’s Delhi has its own kind of people and their ways. Not reading SMSs from unknown numbers is perhaps a new phenomenon, which, in effect, means that a certain segment of people are unapproachable.
From the lady’s point of view, I think she is right in her own way. For people who are extremely busy often find themselves in a SMS-overload situation which they are unable to cope up with. The DND (do not disturb) facility does little to address their plight. People swamped with large number of SMSs have no option but to improvise or adopt policies which often means that basic courtesies and manners take a back seat.
A very senior bureaucrat in Delhi, who hails from Kolkata, has devised a novel way of his own to manage SMSs from unknown sources. Whenever an SMS is sent to him, you get fixed reply, “Please email me at …………… email ID as I cannot remember so many SMSs…..…”
Another very common fact is that the people who have E-mail IDs of their company always insist on asking for private email IDs, which mostly happens to be Gmail in India. This shows a general lack of faith in the official email ID and at times rightly so since emails are delivered rather late depending upon how the local servers are tweaked.
In the West, people are very clear about whom to give their personal or official numbers and the same goes for their email IDs. But here in India things are very different. We still have to learn a lot. Everyone is keen to get both the personal and official numbers and email ids.
Journalists often prefer emails in their Gmail IDs as well as the media group email IDs and forget reading the messages. They don’t even get the time to delete them. Few of the journalists maintain two to three Gmail IDs.
I think, to read or not to read your texts and emails is a debatable issue and I will leave it at that.
ess bee

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