So something unfortunate happened yesterday evening: as we – Bhushan and I – were heading out to the local store I, thinking Sajjad was chilling in his room, managed to lock us out from our apartment. We had no keys from the landlord yet so we had no way of opening the automatic lock that snapped shut.
When I heard that just a moment earlier Sajjad had also left to the store I had a ‘whoops’ moment. Apparently the landlord lived quite a way from us, near downtown, and bothering him at ten in the evening when many are going to sleep was not an enticing idea.
But we had to do something. So Bhushan whips out his plastic bus pass and tries to push the lock open, but to no avail. With no other options, Bhushan calls the landlord while I call Sajjad and inform him that there is no need to hurry back from the store; we won’t be getting inside any moment soon.
At first we were supposed to take a auto rickshaw downtown to the landlord’s place, but after a moment he called back and said he’ll be taking his car and come to us instead. Which was super nice. So we sat up on the wall outside our block and waited, cheerfully chatting and trying to downplay that the dumb white guy had messed up. That was when Bhushan snapped the picture above.
A moment later the landlord arrived, not at all pissed about the situation I caused. He wouldn’t even accept the tip I offered for his troubles. Amazing, frankly. In Finland you pay up to 100 e for having someone come over and open your door, regardless of time of day. This guy was doing it out of sheer kindness.
At first, when I arrived, I had very limited connectivity: with an unreliable connection at the office and roaming mobile data costs at 12 euros per MB my possibility to leisure surf was very limited. Calls anywhere cost 2 euros a minute. I felt a tad helpless. What if I need to check my surroundings in Google maps, translate something or find the nearest restaurant?
This became my first world problem and developing world blessing: I was floating off the grid, unreachable by anything but the most important calls. No reading mails, no facebook updates and no random surfing. Staring down at that mesmerizing screen like I’d done so many times before was simply useless, because there was nothing new to be found. It felt strange. Not wrong, but strange, simply because I wasn’t used to it and was in a place where I preferred to have information and contacts handy if I needed it.
But now I was free to look up, see my surroundings as they are, free of distractions made by that beeping, addictive thing in my pocket. It was silent and the world around me felt more sincere.
Days later I got my local SIM card with mobile data plan, and was again surfing the 3g waves. Connected to the global village, tapped into the feed. I could message friends in an instant, see what others are up to, read the latest news and laugh at the latest memes. But at the same time I was again reachable by all that spam and noise I could do without.
And so I found myself bound to that binary world once more. The same thing that enables me is also keeping me down. And what did I learn? Not a damn thing. Old habits die hard. So I hit refresh.