On Indian trains, vendors often come around and dump a pile of booklets on the empty seat next to you. They’ll leave you to riffle through them for a bit before returning five minutes later, ready to accept a few rupees from you if you’re going to keep one. Without fail, every pile will contain a few publications devoted solely to text messages for every occasion. Jokes, loving sentiments, declarations of friendship, quizzes, and all sorts of other little 160-character bundles of joy.
I know that people buy these booklets, or at least pass them around at school. Why? Because I receive the damned messages every day.
Two weeks ago, a friend of mine switched to a new mobile service. As far as my quite limited cellphone needs are concerned – although the atrocious call centre service of my current option makes me wonder if it’s time for a change – I see most providers as more or less the same. For my friend, however, this new company was a hot ticket. They were offering 666 free text messages, or SMS, per day.
he sed “666 s so mny, can snd lts to frnds ”. i sed “666 s th nmbr of th dvl, dnt u no???”
From the moment I first gave my number to someone in India, I disliked those forwarded SMS. I saw the phone as a communication tool, something with which you can speak to someone in another place or send them a quick personal message when you really need to (i.e. sporadically). Young India sees it quite differently: your mobile is a status symbol and a means of keeping in constant touch with friends. And it is preferable, even encouraged, to use txtspeak for every SMS.
ther wr sm msgs i had 2 read 2 or 3 tyms 2 gt der tru mng n it ws v anoyin