Purpose of Narijibon Blog

Nari Jibon Project seeks to increase our students’ and staffs’ abilities through different ways: classes, practice, computers, internet, and now the Narijibon Blog. Readers and writers (our students & staff) of the Blog will both learn about our lives, culture, Nature, activities of people in Bangladesh and the Nari Jibon Project.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Missed Calls and Other Mobile Moja

Written by Kathryn B. Ward
Email: pagol.nari@gmail.com

I’d like to talk about good behaviour when using a mobile phone, especially missed calls and talking with boys. Since 2000-1, one of the most interesting things from my travels to Bangladesh has been that ownership of mobile phones has grown quickly! Even inhabitants of the remotest village can own a phone. At first, international media reported that ‘village’ women could take Microcredit loans for mobile phones and make calls. In 2000-1, they had no one really to call because of the small network coverage: missed calls meant no network available calls. Now village women and men are getting micro-loan phones, making international calls, and even setting up internet networks via their mobile links!

Or some Nari Jibon staff members have been known to get a phone card and make international calls to me and others in USA!

Anyway, as mobile phones became more popular, some lessons were needed in better mobile phone manners or etiquette. During my visits, I would get many mobile calls because I would give out my number in person and on my business card. Then I would get calls where the caller would ring once and hang up, e.g. the ‘missed call.’ I guess that they thought I was a rich foreigner, and I could afford to call people back on my own taka! This was very irritating because often I didn't have time to call people back, or I would call them back, but their mobile was busy-busy, because they kept missed calling me! So instead of just calling, having a brief chat, and hanging up, I would have to redial them repeatedly. Finally, I told nearly everyone that I would not return missed calls.

Beyond missed calls, some men engage in what we call ‘phishing’, where they would start calling random numbers until they got a foreigner (man but especially woman), or local woman on the mobile. This affects women’s security especially when we do not know the caller. They would repeatedly call back and disturb me.

This is very important security issue because often times you don't know who's calling, unless their name is in your mobile phone book. Many people start their call with ‘apni koi?’ (where are you?) instead saying their name, hello, etc. Or as a foreigner, if I reply in my baby Bangla, then I have to understand the rapid stream of Bangla that often follows, hence my frequent ‘aste kotha bolben’ (please speak slower).

Since many mobile carriers provide free phone calls after midnight 12pm, all night long, many bad men or dusto women who want to show that they know a foreigner will call-call. Over time, I closed my mobile or put it on silent mode so that I would get some sleep.

Some times this led to some interesting phone calls including one man who kept calling around 4:30am, but only spoke Bangla. Eventually, he called back during the day, I gave the mobile to my driver. He told my driver that he met me in a bar, and I promised to give him 20,000 taka! I had never gone to a bar in Bangladesh, but I was able to get him to stop because my driver said some bad Bangla words to him, and threatened complaints to his mobile carrier and police.

I’ve noticed that missed calls are a problem in other countries, as Fouzia Mohamed reports from Libya on her 20 July blog.

About the missed calls made to her and her young son’s phone and they used up his cards. Eventually, she stopped returning any such calls and they stopped.

So as we both have found, if you don't call people back, they usually stop calling. Unless they find out that you are a foreigner. For some reason that really interests young and older men—especially if they get a young female foreigner on the phone and think she will take them to the USA.

For another blog entry, I will address the dating through mobiles discussion: how young women and men are using their mobiles for late night free calls to get around their parents’ restrictions on talking with persons of the opposite sex and/or neglecting their all important home works! Last year in Bangladesh, some “people” proposed banning the late night free phone calls especially for young people. Or even earlier at another research office, I have seen a former unmarried male staff member disappear for some mobile bhalobashi kotha and ignore his work. Or even more troubling is when young female students skip their classes to gossip on their mobiles. We are starting a zero tolerance policy for students who skip their classes to do mobile gossip with boys(!): they will be dropped from Nari Jibon classes and office.

So in general, stop wasting my phone cards with missed calls! Pay attention to your home work, classes, and office work! I would love to hear from the rest of you via text message and/or email. Take care and remember safe mobile calling is good calling.


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Nikhil Pawar said...

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