Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The Hindu priest and his cell phone
INDIA: I’ve lamented in earlier posts about the absurd situations in which people answer cell phones. The phone rings in the loo? No problem… answer it. Marathon? What the heck… you’ve got 20+ miles to go. Sex? So what… pick up the phone dammit. Now you can add to the it’s-ok list the puja, a Hindu ritual performed for various purposes (e.g., religious holidays, functions). I was at a relative’s housewarming last night when, during the puja, I noticed that the Hindu priest had a cell phone fastened snugly in a belt holder. The phone didn’t ring, but it did get me thinking. What if it did? Would he have answered it? Or does he turn the ringer off? (In my experience Indians are worse than even Americans about turning off their ringers; they simply don’t.) I broached the topic with my aunt, who wasn’t surprised by the phone. She informed me that the priest who comes to their house has answered his cell phone mid-puja. Of course that got me thinking too. What are the phone calls about? Some distraught mother requesting an urgent puja to get her 30-something daughter married off? Hmm. As for the priest at the housewarming, he wrapped up the puja, put away a few things and quickly took out his cell phone. (See picture.) I suspect he was checking for missed calls from distraught mothers and not text messages from friends asking where to meet for drinks that night.