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Getting Rid of the I-pod
He was happy that he didn't get the i-phone. Even the i-pod would have been a waste, a waste of the music of Spring ringing in his ears.
Koema loves going places with his ipod. He listens to loud music in noisy places. When he's outdoor, he wears the earphones inside his ear-muffs. The winter feels somewhat warmer when he has his ear-muffs on. In quiet environs, he plays soft music. Music makes him feel safe in this city that he's yet to understand. The only familiar thing he finds in this city is the chills that the wind brings in winter. In cafeterias and family restaurants, he listens to podcasts on various topics while he watches people talk and eat. He entertains himself with the disharmony between the lip movements which he sees and the sounds and words he hears through his ear-phones. When the i-phone first came out, he asked himself whether he would get it. The answer was a definitive “no”. He loves his i-pod. Even if he gets an i-phone, he will only end up using it as an i-pod. He can't imagine owning a $600 piece of equipment for the four or five phone calls he makes in the week. His mobile never rings anyway. Even if it does, he will miss it as he will be listening to one thing or the other through the earphones of his i-pod.
Koema was walking up the stairwell when he felt the tap on his shoulder. He turned around and found that it was Ena. Ena smiled and signaled to him to remove his earphones.
“How's it going?” Ena was always happy to see Koema, her only countryman from Mongolia in U Michigan. She wasn't shy to show it.
“OK, I suppose. And how's your cold?”
“Luckily, I'm almost shaking it off. If I miss one more class, Prof Whitney will ask me for a doctor's note. By the way, can I borrow your notes from the last lecture? I tried to call you a few times to ask for it, but you never answered.”
“Of course you can. You could have left me a voice-mail.”
“I already did. Show me your mobile.” Ena showed Koema on his phone how many voice-mails he had ignored.
“I'm terribly sorry. I forget to check my voice-mails. I don't get calls often. Last month, I was having lunch at the cafeteria when my phone rang for two minutes. When I finally realized it was my phone ringing and answered, the other diners clapped and gave me a standing ovation. That was most embarrassing. I've always left my mobile off since.”
“You can't do that any more, can you?”
“What do you mean?” Koema was puzzled.
“I mean your phone might ring any time from now on.” Ena blinked.
The snow melted in the week following. The wind was icy cold for a few days and then gradually became much milder. It didn't give Koema the chills any more. On the first fine Spring day, Koema left home without his i-pod, his earphones or ear-muffs. He could hear pedestrians shouting “hello” and “good morning”. He watched them and decided that it was much better to see lip movements which synchronize with what he hears. He was happy that he didn't get the i-phone. Even the i-pod would have been a waste, a waste of the music of Spring ringing in his ears.