I've had this cell phone for four days only, and already it is dictating the rhythms of quotidian life here. It wakes me up in the middle of the night, it wakes me up in the morning (btw, how do you politely tell someone who is trying to help you get things done that you need more uninterrupted sleep?). Calls, missed calls, text messages--I feel as if my phone is glued to my hand already, and without it, I am no one.
This is somewhat true here, of course. Pradeepji told me that even someone who only makes Rs. 2000/month will invest in a b/w cell phone, say for maybe Rs. 500. They will never recharge it (or "top it up" for those of you from the UK), or use it to make outgoing calls, because that costs money. Incoming calls are free, however. As long as they have the capacity to receive incoming calls, they have an identity and a location.
Some Americans use their phones the same way here in India--never paying to make outgoing calls. Instead, they call and hang up as quickly as possible, creating a "Missed Call" message at the other end of the line. That way, the other person has to go to the expense of making the call back. I'm not quite sure why Americans suddenly become reluctant to pay for phone calls here, but it seems to be a common behavior. Common enough that I can't get upset about it, anyway. Rest assured, if you are my friend, and you send me a missed call, I will always call you back. I love you THAT much. I will gladly pay Rs. 10 to talk to you for ten minutes.