Sunday, March 9, 2014



There are addictions and there are addictions, ever since I can remember, smoking was a big NO-NO, it still is. Drinking in my youth was not much behind. There is no social smoking like an occasional glass of wine for adults.

Smoking in the car, even with the windows open or the air conditioning on, creates pollution that exceeds official "safe" limits, scientists say.

It is said that opium was the addiction of last century. Recently I became aware of a Cafe shop sign that said, we do not have WIFI. Converse with your loved ones.

An article I read went on to say that many young people don't read, don't spell or write decently and are often inarticulate. The reason? Smartphones! Smartphones-Internet is the new opium.

Aah, can we do away with the smartphones?


I can't give it up, I need it

Eight-year-old twins,Suchi and Soori ran over to their sister, Sapna's room, "Didi, Didi, come quick, our gerbil escaped from its cage."

Sapna checked her messages and got busy writing the replies, "I'm busy. Tell Bhaiya to help you."

"But Didi.."

"Tell, Bhaiya. I'm busy."

"Come on Soori, Bhaiya is not even home, she's just too busy. We'll have to do something to get him back in the cage."

"How bout we take Soham's drum and bang it everywhere in our room and coax him out."

"I'll get a steel plate and bang on it with a spoon."

The twins banged on the drum and the plate.

"There, there, he's gone to dad and mom's room. On, no, Mom's shoes!"

The twins chased their pet all over the house, Sapna stayed in her room, with the door shut, busy with her smartphone. 

"Oops, it went in Bhaiya's room, let's chase it out to our room."

The twins followed their pet.

Sagar opened the front door, "Hey, girls, what's with this banging? Is it your new music practice?"

Sagar followed the ruckus to  his room, hands in his jeans' pockets he said, "Will someone explain why are the chairs and my closet in a mess?"

"Bhaiya, our gerbil's hiding in your room!"

"Uh, oh, go get me a steel plate and a spoon, and the three of us will get him out."

One twin went to pick up another plate while Sagar opened the back door.

Together, they chased the gerbil out of the house. 

"Bhaiya, are we going to chase it back in his cage?" 

"N---O---no. Go to the backyard and look at the free birds and squirrels, your new pets." Sagar straightened his room, "Where is your didi?"

"In her room with her phone."

Sagar marched to Sapna's room, "Didi, what happened to your babysitting?"

Sapna turned off the phone, "I am keeping an eye on the twins, I was just checking my homework."

"You said this morning that you were all done and we could take the twins out to play later in the afternoon."

Sapna looked at the floor and then the ceiling, "Well..."

Sagar took Sapna's smartphone and put it in his pocket, "Let Mom and Dad decide about you phone."

Sapna lunged towards Sagar, "You can't do that. I have a right to have that phone, it's mine."

"Tell that to Mom and Dad after you tell them about the gerbil escapade. Now everyone get ready, I have my soccer practice, you can play there."

The children and the parents returned home at the same time in the evening. The twins hid behind Sagar as he told them about the runaway gerbil, Sapna sulked in her room.

Mom went to Sapna's room, "Sapna, what happened?"

"Mom, the twins are supposed to keep their mouse in his cage, it's their fault they let him escape."

"Sapna, don't let them hear you call it a mouse, it's a gerbil."

"Whatever, it wasn't my fault, how about my phone?"

"Well, we will have to change the plan on it by reducing the minutes or let it work only at school hours or something...I don't know, I'll talk with Dad and we'll decide."

"NO...please don't do that, Mom, I am sorry I didn't keep an eye on Suchi-Soori, it won't happen again."

"Well, I don't know."

"Mom, I promise. I'll be more responsible and use my cell wisely, please, Mom, please?"

"Hmmm. Consider it gone for this weekend. You might get it back on Monday after Dad and I talk about it. In the mean time, take your sisters and see if you can find the gerbil in the backyard."

The End 

© 2014, Meera Desai Shah


  1. Addiction is a curious choice of words. What the story says to me, is that throughout time, people have sought a means to "escape" their current reality. That may have been opium at one time, reading novels, watching television or monitoring the internet. All of these activities are healthy in moderation, yes even opium has palliative effects. 4 criteria help me recognize when something has put you in a "CAGE." Do you feel the need to (C)ut down, are you (A)nnoyed when people criticize the behavior, do you feel (G)uilty about the behavior, do you need an (E)ye opener (check the smart phone, have a drink, have a cigarette, first thing in the morning).

  2. When you can't do without, you are addicted. We may call it a necessity; food is a necessity. Opium, a cigarette, a smartphone? Opium as medication? Some parents have called marijuana a necessity to make their children's lives healthy.
    I don't know if it goes for people also, be able to live without someone!
    But then, time is a great healer and a teacher.
    CAGE is nicely coined.

  3. This was an interesting one - I enjoyed the above discussion regarding addiction or escape from reality, and whether the lines blur. Smartphones do have the potential to, whether through usage or by internalizing content, distort our ability to focus on the outside world, to the point where it interferes with daily living. By CAGE criteria, I think I'm addicted! It was eye opening how distracted I was when keeping the phone on me when playing with the kids. Much better to set it down for at least some blocks of time.

  4. Indeed Steve and Sameer, one has to watch out for our addictions. I too started keeping the cell phone away from me when I go to sleep. I do admit that I look at it before I brush my teeth in the morning! Meera