In today?s era of technology, people find connections and bonds in the most unlikely places and in the most unlikely people through the big, big world of the internet and other communication technology. Be it through one of the social media websites like Facebook or Instagram, or be it through dating portals like Tinder, or even be it through online forums and discussion groups, there is an entire world of people out there, people who are like-minded and can perhaps end as lifelong friends.
Not just that, but the super-connected world that we live in today also opens up a floodgate of possibilities for us. With our cell phones acting as the sites of this connectivity, we can live in the hope of a wonderful career opportunity ringing our doorbell, or rather making our cell phones ring. In The Stranger in my Phone, popular television personality Mini Mathur talks about her attachment to her cell phone and how it opens up the possibility of her replacing Oprah. It is a wild, wild fantasy but it nevertheless creates an unbreakable bond for Mini Mathur with her beloved cell phone.
While narrating a tale that is as relatable as it is heart-warming, Mini Mathur describes her experience as a celebrity whose phone number was leaked to the public. Then being an anchor for the immensely popular pan-India music reality show, Indian Idol, Mini Mathur?s cell phone experienced a surge of phone calls from hopeful but persistent fans of the show asking her to arrange for auditions in the music show. Such an incident is perhaps not something all of us experience regularly. We would all have to be famous celebrities for that to happen. But Mini Mathur?s humorous way of storytelling makes this incident way more relatable than it should be while also making us laugh at the idea of all the Govinda fans calling her phone repeatedly, or as she says, the number of calls increased from 40 to 200.
After setting the premise for her story, she goes on to explain how her number was associated with a Citibank credit card, a credit card that was not quite hers as she had never even had an account with the bank. Mini Mathur did feel quite a bit of annoyance at the relentless phone calls and now in addition to those, the numerous messages or alerts from the transactions of the person who owned the Citibank credit card. She even tried to call the bank and email them but to no avail, the messages continued all the same.
Mini Mathur then started reading those alerts and noticed that the credit card owner would spend his money on basic amenities like food or train tickets, nothing grand but just regular everyday stuff. Through her vested interest in the spending done via the credit card, an unlikely connection was formed which led to the creation of a bond between Mathur and the credit card owner that the credit card owner or Mathur?s ?Aam Aadmi? was not even aware of.
Over the course of the next eight years, during which Mini Mathur refused to change her number despite the calls from the Govinda fans, the Indian Idol aspirants and the deluge of messages in the form of Citibank alerts. She loved her number which started from 98200, one of the original numbers unlike the 89s and whatnot, a number that Mathur prided on possessing. But she also did not want to break the connection she had with the nameless, faceless Citibank credit card owner, her own ?aam aadmi? who provided Mathur with an insight into the life of just another normal Indian man (or a woman!), going around living a normal controlled life.
After a few years, Mathur ?Aam Aadmi? spent Rs. 30,000 in a jewellery shop, leaving her in a state of shock and worry. She thought his card had been stolen and even tried to lodge a complaint with the bank (although unsuccessfully)! Mini Mathur now realised that she had formed a very unlikely yet strong bond with the nameless, faceless owner of the credit card. This realisation, in turn, forced her to wonder if this connection were to be discovered by the bank if this mistake was to be made right, what would she do then? The nameless ?Aam Aadmi? had unknowingly become a part of Mini Mathur?s life!
As the time further passed, the ?Aam Aadmi? began spending money on some of life?s luxuries that he previously did not have access to, such as vacations, meals in restaurants, Jet Airways tickets and more. Mathur wondered about his life. She wondered whether he had made an excellent market investment or gotten that promotion or received an inheritance. Mathur also wondered if he was terminally ill and wanted to go around checking things off his bucket list. Or if he was just living the life he had painstakingly saved up for all these years.
Despite him being a stranger in the vast sea of humanity, Mini Mathur shared his happiness for achieving a better, more successful life. The strangest bonds formed in the unlikeliest of places in the weirdest ways can sometimes matter so much and through this wonderfully reflexive and poignant tale, Mini Mathur tries to highlight just that.
You can watch The Stranger in my Phone by Mini Mathur here-
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