181211 landline set
Image Credit: Supplied

We had to shift flats recently and during the move I realised we have tons of useless stuff that we never use, such as landline telephones.

The phones are of the latest, sleek design and look like fancy remote controls and very unlike what most people see in their mind’s-eye when you talk about the old, vintage phones that are connected to a base and placed on a table.

We had tried to get rid of the landline as nobody called us on the home phone during the past year, but the service provider said he cannot disconnect us as the phone line is included with the whole package, the internet data, WIFI and the TV channels, which we also never watch.

So, I have plugged in the phones in our new flat and call people from my landline and get a surprised reaction. “Sir, you are calling from a landline … (Are you a dinosaur. Really)?! Can I get your mobile number (the one which is so easy to hack into and get your bank details or to send you spam to make you buy our stuff)?”

Making a call on these phones is so satisfying, especially when you are mad with the person on the other end. You can slam the phone down on its base and hopefully make the person on the line partially deaf.

The phone makes an electronic, puzzled sound Like WALL-E (the robot janitor in the movie of the same name, that cleans up an abandoned Earth full of junk that was once sold to humans by multinational companies) and immediately lights up and starts recharging itself.

You cannot slam down your mobile phone, firstly because they are very expensive, and you fear cracking the screen. All I can do with my smartphone is to quickly cut off the call by waving my hand over the screen or giving a voice command or pressing the power key.

All these actions are however, not as much fun as slamming a phone down on its cradle.

Time machine

On the day of the shift I also saw the movers pick up a sleek, black, oval-shaped thing that looked like something out a sci-fi movie. “Our time machine?”, I asked my wife, pointing to it.

“Air-fryer”, said my wife. “We can cook steaks and fry chips without oil with this. It’s healthy cooking.”

“That’s too much protein. Hope the food won’t taste like air. Why didn’t I see it before in our kitchen?” I asked.

“It was in the pantry cupboard behind the slow-cooker, the rice grinder, and the very expensive vacuum cleaner that broke and no one can fix in Bengaluru,” said my wife.

Then I saw the movers pick up boxes full of cassette tapes, like the ones that your car tape player would eat, some 20 years ago in Saudi Arabia, and you had to throw it out of the window. The black tape would then get stuck on the car antenna and trail behind your car like a silent, censored song.

“You can download all these tapes on a flash drive,” I told my wife, as I saw tapes of Elvis, Jim Reeves and Frank Sinatra going past.

“Retro is making a comeback,” said my wife surprisingly. “Vinyl records are a rage. Kodak is coming back with a film camera with a digital screen. I am keeping these music cassettes.”

Luckily, we are not billionaires, or we would be moving stuff such as terrible paintings that no one can understand, or lapdogs, or useless things that people, rich or otherwise, like to clutter their homes with.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi.