December 17, 2014

Crank Calls



Have you made crank calls as a kid? They were such a fad in the 90s - everyone did! Most had a personal style and sometimes there were the usuals. Remember the oldest prank where a person calls someone and asks in Hindi "kya aapka fridge chal raha hai?" and the person responds, "Haanji!" To which the caller delivers the punch line "To jakar pakadiye kahin bhaag na jaye."

I read in this book 'Rooftops of Tehran' that harassing people on the phone was a fashionable thing to do among young Iranians. Here is a funny one!

'Ahmed changes tone of his voice and asks if this is Mr Rezai's residence. Faheemeh's brother says no and hangs up. He calls again asking for Mr Rezai, and Faheemeh's brother abuses and hangs up the phone again.

Ahmed calls the third time and says. "Hi. This is Mr Rezai. Has anyone called for me today? This time Fahemeeh's brother explodes into a rage.'

My personal style was to mimic a little girl asking for her father. Most  fell for the adorable little girl waiting for her Daddy to come home. She asked them to call her father on the line, when asked for fathers name, she said "Papa". The men melted at the sound. She requested them to inform her father to get chocolate when he comes home, she will be waiting. They felt sad inside but played on because no one breaks a child's heart. 

Mostly the phone numbers were sourced from friends or friends' friends or classmates or just random dial or with the help of the thick book 'Yellow Pages'. A cousin had a crush on a family friend and I called him for her even though he was younger to me.

A few school mates used to crank call my brothers - it was a norm in girls convent. Once a batch mate got it from me for trying to fool around with my brother. I recognised her voice by picking up the phone on the extension by mistake. Lot of girls used to ask for my brothers' friends' contacts but that was just out of scope for me. I rather be dead than mess with my brothers! There is a basic conditioning while growing up with elder brothers. 

A lot of bffs have called brothers of their bffs. Somehow they never have the guts to tell their so called bffs. BFF is a very intriguing concept and may be I will discuss it later. 

But crank calling has been fun. On sleepovers we were glad if we got a room with a phone at night and hopefully with no extension in the other room so parents don't find it. Sometimes we just made crank calls to annoy people and the law of inversions worked here so well. More a person got irritated more the crank calls. 

Crank calls were made hoping for the boy to pick it and not the parents especially mothers for the sons and similarly fathers for the girls. Most of the boys were always ready to talk. You just had to sound decent and interesting and he will be interested. That's why I was scared just like others in my family when monthly landline bills came.

Dad took everyone's class. Mom for her long chats with aunties and her side of family, brothers for girl friends, I too for talks to girl friends. They know I won't dare to talk to boys and all three of us got scolding for not focusing on studies but useless chit chat, being reminded of all our recent debacles in education. Mostly his loving daughter that's me got away with it but not others.

The world of crank calls died a sudden death with Internet and caller Ids. Also leading to the transition from crank calls to crank emails and online friends. Sort of same. 

Now the breed of crank calls is replaced by spammers finding their place in Junk directly. In an electric world with caller ids people are just getting more stranger - no time to crack a joke and have a little laugh. 

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