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     Volume 4 Issue 71 | November 18, 2005 |

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Food For Thought

Who's the Crazy One?

Farah Ghuznavi

Trends may come and go, but some certainly take a while to go! The craze for mobile phones that has been sweeping the globe in the last few years shows no signs of abating as yet, with the kind of mobile you own playing a critical role in determining your social status (at least in certain circles!).

But alongside the obsession that afflicts some people around the size, colour, capacity, options and brand of the mobile phone they have - as opposed to the one they would like to have! - an almost equal amount of time can be spent on choosing its current ring tone. Even if you're one of those who are completely removed from this important debate (being more concerned about the war in Iraq, for example) it is hard to avoid noticing these trends altogether.

For example, the Crazy Frog - who isn't really a frog anyway! - has become one of the truly annoying features of public spaces in cities like London. Just when you think you're safe, that maddening "bing-bing-ba-da-bing-bing-bing" will start up somewhere near you, and you will be consumed with the insane desire to grab that mobile phone, and smash/crush/mutilate or in some other way destroy the source of that demonic sound.

For those of you who have been living on the moon for the past year or so, the Crazy Frog is a small, hideous, greyish reptilian creature with bulging mad eyes hence, presumably, the "crazy" part of his appellation...Apparently he was created by some Danish or Swedish man who decided to come up with the most annoying creature he could think of (clearly a good way of spending your time!), thereby single-handedly undermining the well-known Scandinavian contributions to global peace and well-being…

But unsolicited encounters with the Crazy Frog are not the only hazards that lurk in wait for those unfamiliar with the Curse of the Ring-tone. Sometimes, a lovingly-selected ring tone can backfire on you quite badly. A friend of mine, Srabonti, who is a very good mimic, recently went through a phase of copying the squeaky tones of the littlest lemur in the animated film "Madagascar" (if you haven't seen this yet, do, it's fun).

Since the main identifying features of this little lemur character are its big eyes and profoundly annoying interjections in the film, you would have thought that her friends would have been slightly cautious about the use of Srabonti's talents in this regard. But no, some people just don't learn…

So one of her friends, Anna, decided to get Srabonti to record a ring-tone for her, as her alter ego, the little lemur, squeaking, "I like it! I like it! I like it so much, I liked it even before I knew it, I like it so much! I like it so much, you hate it in comparison to how much I like it!" in a progressively squeakier pitch and louder volume. Some days later, when Anna was in the supermarket, surrounded by the good people of Dhaka, an incoming phone call provided those around her with more than a little excitement, and her with a great deal of embarrassment!

Of course, sometimes it can be even worse than that. Two male friends of mine were travelling on a train recently, where they whiled away the journey surreptitiously (and - they deluded themselves - subtly) eyeing the rather beautiful woman sitting across from them. Because of the lack of space in the full compartment, my friend Jerry had placed his bag under the lovely lady's seat, with her permission.

Unfortunately, when he bent down to retrieve it at the end of the journey, the arrival of an incoming call was heralded with the immortal ring-tone "Mwah, mwah, mwah (kissing sounds), I LOVE you, baby"!! The shocked expression on the woman's face was accompanied by roars of laughter from the others in the compartment, and Jerry hasn't quite recovered from it since… Whether he has learnt his lesson about the importance of caution in selecting ring-tones however, remains to be seen!

And of course, if you don't manage to make a fool out of yourself, your friends will quite happily do it for you! A friend of mine, Manoj, described how another friend of his, Salman, played a quite evil trick on a mutual friend of theirs (David). One morning, Salman dropped by David's home for an early working breakfast, and before heading off, quietly changed the ring-tone on David's phone.

And what was the new ring-tone? For anyone familiar with the film "When Harry Met Sally", the scene in the diner, where Meg Ryan illustrates the danger of taking things at face value will need no further elaboration. For those unfortunate enough to have missed this classic movie, I can only say that it involved the simulation of a rather intimate moment.

For the hapless David, this led to a truly embarrassing scene a couple of hours later, when his mobile went off in an office meeting. His colleagues teased him mercilessly, stating that while he was a newly-married man, this might be more information than they needed…Clearly, the frog isn't the only one who's crazy!

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