Ok, starting with a small dose of honesty. Like a lot of people, my smartphone is my life! Connecting to people is just one of the small things I use it for. Bank transactions, travel research, working on my blog, diary, reading, operating my business, everything.
But recently my phone battery has picked up this habit of being active only 3 hours before it goes to sleep till the next recharge, and I haven’t exactly been smart enough to carry a power bank with me.
So on a recent weekend tourist-like trip to Dusseldorf and Cologne, out on the streets, I found myself without a phone to rely on to connect to the world, look up directions and streets, find recommendations for food and activities, read a book when I had no wi-fi, and even translate words and pictures. Talk about frustration!
I had researched a bit on the cities before, and that was all I had to keep me going on the streets for 12 hours a day.
Well that plus all the old-fashioned stuff:
Printed, paper maps, picked up from the hotel and railway station!
I was surprised they even made them these days, but thankfully they do. There were a lot of tourists, but I could have sworn, I was the only one with a paper map. At least everyone I saw had a smartphone or tablet which they were peering into.
An actual paper book to hold in my hands and read.
Had almost forgotten what THAT felt like! Was a breath of fresh air, for sure!
With no electronics to vie for my attention, all I had to focus on was what was happening around me, to the experience of sitting outside on the fresh grass in the spring sun, soaking up the atmosphere of people just relaxing, reading, and hanging out with loved ones.
Asking people on the road for directions.
Of course, the fact that people were helpful and tried their best came as no surprise. I truly believe people like to help when they can. But asking for directions is so rare these days, some people were truly surprised I was relying on them instead of some gadgets 😉
Strolling on the streets and finding restaurants and gelato shops which had long queues.
As they say, long queues must equal good food 😉 And I was not disappointed!
With my phone dead, I also got a chance to connect to others and imbibe a new type of spirit!
Normally I wouldn’t have taken an interest in the soccer match between Dortmund and Cologne. But since I had nothing better to do, and the train was full of soccer fans travelling to Dortmund to support their favorite teams, I got chatting with a few people! More importantly, I let myself be immersed in their spirit of listening to extremely loud music and singing along while drinking crate loads of beer. Something that could have been a bother had I been trying to do something on my phone, became a welcoming, new story for me.
It had been a long time since I had had this kind of an experience. Was very….liberating. And strangely, also powerful. Because I just realized that yes, though today we and our lives are completely digital, dependent on a dozen different gadgets, the most important being our phones, all is not lost…yet!
We, or at least I, can survive without it, even if it takes more time and is not so convenient. It can still be done, I can find ways to get stuff done, and also enjoy the experience equally, if not more, as in the experience of having my gadgets.
So something that could seem as a hindrance initially, and can make us frustrated, can always be a blessing in disguise, and a lesson for the future.
My FF thought of the day: The more sparingly you use your phone while travelling, the more you will probably enjoy your trip, to the fullest 🙂 Put the 6 X 2 visual away, and look up at the visuals of the world around you. You will be amazed at what shows up!