Should Mobiles be Banned in Public Places?

Outline of the Conversation:

Akshay and Arjun are good friends who are sharing a rickshaw in Bangalore. On the way to their destination, the two witness a minor traffic accident caused by a driver who ispreoccupied with an animated mobile conversation.  The collision sparks an argument between the guys. Arjun is strictly against the use of mobile phones on public roads and in public places.  Akshay believes that citizens should have the liberty to use mobiles as they wish, with only minor restrictions.

The Conversation:

Arjun: Oh my... I cannot believe that moron was being so careless. It looks like the other driver could be hurt.

Akshay: I don't think it is that serious. Look, the other driver is a woman and she just got out of the car. She is walking over to the boy who hit her. She seems to be ok, but it looks like that boy is in for a good scolding.

Arjun: Come on Akshay, you are always so apathetic about these kinds of things. That foolish boy in the Mahindra Jeep could have killed that poor lady. She was only driving a small Tata. Maybe if he was not so self-important, and thinks that he can play on his mobile whenever and wherever he likes, the woman would still be on her merry way.

Akshay: Well it should not take too long for them to settle this. Let the boy receive his scolding.

Arjun: Did you see the boy? He was swerving through traffic like a lunatic, with one hand on his mobile, and the other on the wheel. I'd like to teach that pompous prince a lesson or two.

Akshay: Ok, relax.  Did you forget that we live in Bangalore? You know how it is. Let's be happy that no one was injured. Most of the time I see people in trucks, in autos, even on bikes using their mobile, and nothing bad happens.

Arjun: That does not make it ok.

Akshay: Sometimes accidents occur. What do you want the traffic commissioner to do, ban citizens from using mobiles on all public roads?

Arjun: Yes, that would be a good start! 

Akshay: Arjun, you know that would never work, not in Bangalore, not anywhere in India. We are both intelligent young men. Let's look at this issue reasonably, and maybe we can find some common ground.

Arjun: Ok, let's do it.

Akshay: How about we first examine the pros and cons of mobile use in public places, and then we'll see if we can agree on something. 

Arjun: Sounds good brother. I'll start. I believe that one of the biggest problems with using mobiles on public roads is that it gives the driver only one hand to negotiate traffic, and in Bangalore you need not one, not two, but three hands. Using an earpiece will allow you to use both hands, but this cannot prevent someone from being too involved in a conversation, diverting their much-needed attention from the road.

Akshay: That's a good point.

Arjun: The incident we just witnessed is a prime example. If the boy were not clowning around on his mobile in heavy traffic, that likely would not have happened. His conversation was surely not important or an emergency; he was simply having fun at the expense of other motorists. 

Akshay: I think I have the answer to that problem. If an individual is driving and needs to use his or her mobile, they can pull off the road, park, andjabber until their heart is content. If you are driving and receive a call, insist on calling the person back, and vice versa. If you call a person who is behind the wheel, be firm on returning the call.

Arjun: Ok smart guy, do you have a solution for this problem? The other day I was in a wireless cafe, trying to read some important information from a colleague about rapidly changing trends in our job field. The connection was bad and kept going down every five minutes, so I had to read and digest the information as fast as possible between outages.

Akshay: Poor guy.

Arjun: Listen! I was having trouble focusing because this annoying teenage girl next to me was relentlessly yakking with her sister on her mobile. The volume of her voice was audible over busy Bangalore traffic.

Akshay: It does not help to exaggerate brother.

Arjun: Hardly an exaggeration. The cashier at the counter did not even try to ask the girl to lower her voice, because he was also talking on his mobile. The few other customers in the cafe did not seem to mind, but I sure did. The place was so small and I could not get away from her.

Akshay: Oh Arjun, you tend to always find yourself in these difficult situations. Why didn't you ask the girl to speak in a lower voice or to continue her conversation outside? You do not have to get angry, and be rude; just be tactful and polite.

Arjun: I asked her with a smile but she just ignored me. The cafe actually has a ban on mobile use, but it is obviously not enforced.

Akshay: Ok, cyber cafes and libraries need to have mobile restrictions and I think they usually do. But how can you prohibit mobiles in other public places like banks, hospitals, hotels, and offices, where mobile communication is essential?

Arjun: Good question.

Akshay: It's funny, I don't think I've ever given much thought to how disturbing mobile conversations in these places can be. I think that I have failed to notice the disturbances because they are so normal today.

Arjun: Yes, that's another issue that needs to be addressed. Listen to this story.  A few weeks ago, I was standing in the ATM queue at the Canara Bank on J.C. Road, waiting to withdraw some money. I was on my way to meet a client, and had very little time to spare.  I was relieved when the queue shortened, and I was next to use the ATM, but soon became agitated when the man in front of me began quarrelling on his mobile in the middle of his transaction.

Akshay: Did he move out of the line?

Arjun: No, he stood there and continued to argue, even after the other people and I griped and asked him to move.  He was probably too absorbed in his argument to notice us yelling at him.  I ended up having to skip the ATM, which complicated my schedule.

Akshay: Well, I can see how that upset you and the other people in the queue. That man should have cancelled his transaction, and resumed when he finished arguing.  Perhaps if people simply lowered their voices in public facilities, others would not be distracted.

Arjun: I wish it were that simple.

Akshay: If you cannot refrain from an altercation on your mobile, exit the building to spare others in your proximity. The state could post many more signs in these businesses to remind people to be considerate of others.

Arjun: Yeah, and noisemakers could be given tickets of up to 1,000 rupees for violating the peace. A special force of law enforcement could patrol these areas to make sure people are not breaking the rules. It could be called the Purveyors of Peace!

Akshay: Arjun, Arjun, let's be reasonable. A regulation like that would never survive, let alone be passed into law.   We are too young to be uptight and stress ourselves out over this. Look, there is that cool bar that you like so much.  Let me buy you a shake to cool you down.

Arjun: Ok, now that we have discussed mobiles, I feel better.  Thank you for your understanding and good suggestions.  Now we need all of Bangalore to listen.

Vocabulary:

Preoccupied - lost in thought; also: absorbed in some activity.

Apathetic - having or showing little or no feeling or emotion; also: having little or no interest or concern.

Self-important - an exaggerated estimate of one's own importance; also: arrogant or pompous behaviour.

On her merry way - slang for pleasantly resuming one's actions.

Pompous - having or exhibiting arrogance or self-importance.

Jabber - to speak rapidly or indistinctly, in a way that is hard to understand.

Relentlessly - a form of the word relentless, which means showing or promising no reduction of severity, intensity, strength, or pace.

Yakking - a form of yak: to talk persistently.

Audible - heard or capable of being heard.

Tactful - form of tact, meaning a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others, or avoid offense.

Agitated - an excited and often troubled state of mind or feelings.

Quarrelling - to argue with someone or dispute something actively; also, to find fault.

Altercation - a noisy, heated, angry dispute.

Proximity - the quality or state of being close.

Purveyor - one who supplies (as provisions) usually as a matter of business. 

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