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Why I’m charged up about charging


Sushmita Bose

Published: Thu 25 Mar 2021, 5:05 PM

I am quite tech-averse. Very actually. I’ve never visited an Apple store — the ‘Shrine’ — in my life. Electronic shops bore me, I usually end up checking out hair dryers and irons, while others (who have dragged me there) check out the latest lot of smartphones, headphones (equipped with a strident feature called noise cancellation), laptops and go ooh, aah. I’d like to believe I possess minimal gadgets. Both my phones are ‘vintage’ ones, I am told ever so often. I like to listen to music on regular players — not from a portable speaker that shares my surname. Headphones and earphones hurt my head and ears. And so on.

Despite my disclaimers, I find myself scrambling for charging points/stations and cords, for substantial parts in a day. I barely finish charging one of my phones, when the other one flashes a needy signal: “I want to be fed too”. While I am trying to organise that, I realise my FitBit — a gift from a concerned friend who thought I wasn’t doing my 10,000 steps a day — needs its daily dose (else the app starts protesting, too little charge, too little charge, and so what I never use it, the notifications get my goat).

My laptop — a purchase of necessity thanks to work from home (I had eschewed buying one till very recently) — is another usual suspect, perpetually in need of a charge crumb or two. Then, there’s a speaker I happen to have, another gift, that needs its spot of instant gratification every now and then: doesn’t matter if I don’t listen to it, I have to ensure it remains charged at all times, else, it’ll have a breakdown of its delicated chords (chord this time, not cord), or so I’d been told sternly.

Oh, there’s another member in my list of things that need to be charged. I discovered a pair of earphones in one of my handbags, a natty looking apparatus, which, if I remember correctly, I bought on a flight. I may have bought it because it boasted about its “noise cancellation” aspect, and there were at least five sets of children screaming all around me, making me feel I was in some horrifying surround-sound setup. And I probably bought it towards the end of the flight because I didn’t get around to using it. Basically, I’d never charged it in the last three years. In an attempt to make up for the poor thing’s abysmal treatment at my hands, I now charge it everyday even though I’m yet to start using it.

A few days ago, I spotted a charging cord at the local supermarket (sharing rooming space with some pots and pans) with a three-pronged inputs head: two for Android, and one for iOS. I’ll be able to charge three devices at a time, I thought triumphantly, and immediately bought it. Didn’t quite work that way, because if I plugged even two devices at a time, it would start emitting a strange groaning sound. I didn’t want a short circuit so I stopped all my endeavours and went back to my cyclical motions. “That’s what happens when you buy sensitive objects like charging cords in mom-and-pop stores,” I was told. “They’re meant to be purchased at ‘branded’ outlets.”

As our devious gadgets get more and more infested with apps and other such salience, which suck their lives out, our charges have amped up. In office, there’s a tug of war for charging spaces and contraptions. Colleagues come over to me to “borrow” my cord — I have collected a bunch of them, most of which don’t work, but there’s usually one that does — and then I don’t see it again. When I try to reclaim it, they say it’s theirs. When I insist it’s mine, they say, okay, but “can I keep it for some more time? There’s another ‘device’ that needs charging.”

These days, when you visit someone, or someone visits you, the second question after “What’s your Wi-Fi password?” is usually “Do you have a charger for my phone?”

“How are you?” or “Long time no see” is third in the pecking order.

I remember my ‘feature phones’ fondly. One bout of charge would be good enough to last you a couple of days. Or the Walkman, which could be plugged in while we used it because the earphones were wired into the machine. But these days, it’s highly untrendy to be “wired in”; it also means you have to remain fixated. Ergo, the ‘wire-less’ revolution, side by side with The Charge.


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