The gadgets may have become life’s inseparable accessories across the globe, giving the Valley too a spurious sense of parity with more advanced peoples, but this hand-held apology for basic amenities exposes Kashmir’s general lack of development in more than one sense. Indiscriminate use in the absence of real and pressing need is in itself an indication of how unmindful societies are of their phase-lag with those they wish to mimic with cosmetic compensations. Granted that reducing oneself to ridicule and mockery in the eyes of the discerning is as democratic a right as proxy voting, but surely Kashmiris owe it to themselves to draw a line somewhere.
Since it has been nearly a decade and a half since the technology was introduced in here, it has become commonplace, and certainly lost the novelty and status associated with it at the beginning, but even after a long decade, during which showrooms marketing the apparatus in their latest avatars and vendors hawking services of exotic and exciting new varieties have broken out like a rash, there is no sign of even rudimentary etiquette of its use in specific social contexts. It is the rare mosque where worshippers switch off their gadgets before entering for prayer. Almost no one thinks of silencing his or her instrument on attending a fateha majlis. It is not uncommon to hear sombre sermons and moments being repeatedly interrupted by jarring jingles breaking out in somebody’s pocket, and subject thinking nothing of the rudeness of leaving the majlis midway to attend a phone call from a nagging spouse or querulous offspring. It was entirely in place, therefore, when an inevitable humorist at a mosque compared the ringing of a fellow-worshipper’s phone to involuntary expulsions from the hind-parts, as detrimental to the ‘health’ of the individual’s namaz as to the sehath of the jama’at.