Ring Leader

I remember these phones. They now seem ancient but were once indispensable. Every weekend was phone time and I had to even queue up at one of these vintage machines to make that all-important call home.

There were calling cards in many denominations, all with pictures of Bahrain’s landmarks and there were coins – which I diligently collected over the week only to use on the Friday. DSC_4041There were almost no mobiles and calling from the land phone at home was very expensive. Not that calling from a roadside contraption was any cheaper but there was greater control on what I spent. I had to call between certain times, to catch the ‘cheap’ rates and I had to not call during afternoon prayers. And the call was seldom more than a few minutes.

Several years later, there are few land phones and Internet calls rule the airwaves – Skype, Viber, What’s App, Wow and the likes –are what matter.

Competition among operators also means the rates are heavily in the customer’s favour – I now spend in six months what I did in one – and for more phones, calling all the time everywhere. The land phone is a necessity only for the reliable high-speed Internet that drives everything.

But if I say these ancient gadgets are history, I will be wrong. They are still in use by those who prefer ‘land line’ free access to calling card numbers as opposed to calling overseas from a mobile – which still costs twice as much!

These still look nice on street corners – reminding one of the past, going into the future. Scores of them are now dismantled but many stay and they will for some time!

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