Monday, December 7, 2009

The shortest distance phone call

Time is a valued commodity these day and time is something I can ill afford nowadays. So I thought I should just re-posted an entry from my now defunct blog at Yahoo.

For the record.

You know, hand-phones are so prevalent today that even kids have them. I have always wondered how we survived without them in the not-so-distant past – well, we did, didn’t we? From one as heavy and as big as the brick, it is now so small that it can fit in the palms of the smallest of us.

It is amazing to think that in the late 70s or even early 80s, we can practically count the number of households having fixed-line phones. My family in Taiping surely didn’t have one then. We communicated mainly via letters and it was always fun waiting for the letters during those days, although I have to admit I don’t remember how we got our letters in those days at MRSM KB.

However, in 1980 we have a Physics genius by the name of Fauzi Daud. This guy can do miracles with circuits, and it is no surprise that he now works for Intel. He was to physics what Rashid was to Add Math – in those days, at least. I believe he created the club COLLEGELECTROHAMRADIPLEX (quite a mouthful as far as name was concerned but for obvious reason, I guess) which, according to Shema, was bigger than Persatuan Islam Maktab. I for one would dispute that, but if she was talking about their long, mouthful name then yes, they were longer!

At MRSM KB, the dorms in each block are located on the side with a courtyard in the middle. Dorm B10 (or the old G10) was the one nearest to the girls’ dorm of E13, and if my memory serves me right, it is probably less than say 5-10 m apart. Don't let these numbers fool you - it is that close! and then without any fence, unlike now.

B-10 dormmates. One of the architects of the phone link between the girl's and boy's dorms is the one seated, in the blue shirt. The chief engineer is not in the picture - he was from another dorm. This wing of the dorm is the one closest to the girls' room. Mine is on the other wing.

I don’t remember how he (and Razin, I think) got it started. All of the sudden, we have phone service between the boys’ room of B10 (or G10) and the girls’ room E13. No wonder my dorm always has a stream of boys coming over all the time, beyond its strategic location of course.

Those days, at times, I liked to study in my room (basically at my locker), especially if I was too tired (read: lazy) to go to the library. One day while studying, suddenly someone (perhaps Razin. No I think it was the man himself - Fauzi) came by and told me that "ada oghe talipon". Initially I ignored him as I knew he was just pulling my leg, but he insisted that I came over. So I went to the other side of the dorm – the room was divided into two wings, and picked up the phone.

Now I don’t remember the exact conversation then, but sure enough there was this girl on the other line. She of course would not reveal her identity even though I had asked her to. She instead asked me to guess her name.

You know in those days, I seldom talked over the phone, if ever. So even though her voice sounded very familiar (she had to be a classmate as no one else would be bothered to play this kind of game on me!), I simply could not figure her out.

To cut the story short, upon her insistence, I took the bait and guessed her name.

Ni (a classmate’s name)ke?” I reluctantly asked.

All of the sudden, I heard an eruption of laughter coming over from the girls’ dorm. It was loud - I can tell you that, and it didn’t come via the phone itself – the two dorms were that close anyway for me to clearly hear the laughter. I guess there must be a group of them on the other side, waiting for that moment. And yes, at the point, I knew I had made a mistake. Dah terkena lah tu.

Alamak!” I cursed myself. I should have known better. It was too late then. Terlajak perahu boleh gostan, terlajak kecek.....might as well be dead! Tebal deh muka ni...

Later the next day, going to our class high up on the 2nd floor of the new lab building, she was there waiting for me; ready to mock me for my gaffe. “Ohh, (the classmate name), iye! she said with a hint of a teasing smile, but pretending to be upset with arms akimbo, “kita yang susah-susah talipon dia, dia ingat orang lain!

Well, what can I say? I protested meekly that they did sound similar, especially over the phone that Fauzi Daud and gang assembled. I simply took a guess based on the perceived pitch of the voice (both were singers in their own right) and I am sure it was distorted by the electronics, and not based on the likeliest classmate who may pull this kind stunt on me. For some reasons, I could not detect her East-coast accent – she did well to camouflage it.

The Pasteurs under the Rhu tree. Now which one of the girls was the one who played the joke on me and which one was wrongly accused of making the phone call she didn't make?

On hindsight, I should have known better. It could not have been anyone else but her - the friendliest classmate of them all.

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