• Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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My phone, my networks and I


 I am sure that every indulgee with an arty blood flowing in their arteries has jumped on the title of this Square Table conversation today, thinking: “With a title like this, the Chief Indulgee is about to speak to something we are familiar with.” Well, it is something you are familiar with alright, but it is not anything arty, in case your one-directional-source-of-happiness mind has led you to conclude it is!

On second thoughts, though, you might find some sort of artistry about it, given that it is often said that if we looked closer or deeper we would find that there’s a work of art in every of man’s action or inaction. After all, occasionally, we have heard of wacky art exhibitions by British Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, or the German morbid exhibitor, Gunther von Hagens, with certain subjects, of which include such outlandish titles as “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”, “Body Worlds”, and “Animal Inside Out”.

I think that in a more rational yet one-direction approach to this matter, arty-minded indulgees would have thought, well this must be connected to the musical, The King and I, based on the novel Anna and the King of Siam, by Margaret Landon. Okay, that’s arty, whether it is the book we are talking about or the movie or musical of the same title. Artists, artistes or however you chose to define the nomenclature, are always crafting something for us to appreciate. As it often is the case, a lot will always depend on who is doing the crafting.

In this present case, the reporting is being done by this Chief Indulgee, who has been at the receiving end of what must be the masterly craftsmanship and or ‘craftswomanship’ of an artist. Now, there are many side to it, hence the title’s incorporation of phone, networks and me. Nah! It’s not like trying to define a NOUN in front of a class of kindergartens – a noun is the name of a person, animal, place or thing.

Come to think of it, I don’t remember making any further effort to find an advanced definition for a noun once I learnt that way back in early primary school. Which is a testimony to the level of confidence I had in my public (Nigerian, not UK) primary school teachers, who, indeed, were larger than life in those days! It’s not that I have not explored more expanded definitions; after all, the Irish wife of the late professor Donatus Ibe Nwoga, Patricia Ezinwanyi Nwoga, took an English elective I offered at University of Nigeria.

But as we move away from all this notion of art, lest we fall into the bind of arts imitating life, it is the artistry that I have found my phone and mobile networks display that provides an indulging discussion.

Let me declare my interest as I go into this. I belong to all the mobile phone networks except one. I don’t know why that network has never appealed to me – perhaps because it is a self-distancing network. I carry four SIM cards, on three phones, two of which belong to one network. There is joy on some days, but there is a lot of sadness. Thank God for number portability, I am now seriously considering the way I dispense my loyalty; because belonging to all the networks bar one has a way of clouding the situation for you, as you can conveniently move from one network to the other.

But while complaints against networks vary from quality of voice transmission to calls dropping or people picking calls and you not hearing them, my experience in the last several weeks is confounding me even more. It is so much so that when I say my phone, my networks and I, it is the confusion that this is bringing to bear on me that is making me suspicious of any three of the nouns – me, my phone, and my networks.

Here’s what I am talking about. A few weeks ago when I was in the UK and, foolhardy, decided to roam one of my lines, one whose data subscription had been fully paid, I found that I was not only being charged exorbitant voice fees, but that data charges were also being piled on my fragile shoulders!

And then only recently, one of my phones, a line that I set aside to only receive calls on, just took on a life of its own. A phone that isn’t being used would intermittently sound off and carry the following message: “Your last session duration was 1KB…” and proceed to tell me the charge for this session. As this continues to happen and serves as some form of therapy – how to incur charges from Nigerian phone networks without touching your phone – it forces you to ask the kind of artistry being displayed here!

Because I carry more than one line and so attached to three networks, it is quite easy to see how they are pinching off your credit in one guise or the other. One network continuously sends messages that I have 10MB free unused and goes on to warn me that if I didn’t use it, it would expire. It doesn’t tell me how to activate it, but will almost immediately charge me for data usage, even after paying subscription for email and BB usage!

No one can tell an indulgee that there’s nothing untoward about this. And there’s everything of art about it! Who is the guilty artist/artiste here? Is it my phone? Is it my networks? Or is it me?