A Phoneless India

The moment I tell people I travelled halfway across the world to Udaipur, India, the first question I get asked is “So, did you have WiFi?” – to which I shortly respond with “No.” And yet, this answer so dry and simple always shocks them. “What did you do? How did you text people?” Well, that one is easy. I didn’t text people, nor did I have the burning urge to all day long. I was 11,462 km away from home, surrounded by an entirely new culture, with nothing but my camera, best friends, and curiosity by my side. Why would I need my phone?

Not being able to use my phone for two weeks turned out to be a much easier task than I had previously expected. Before going to India, I was petrified of not having my phone. I mean, my parents couldn’t call me on my birthday, I couldn’t text all of my teammates and friends with the latest gossip, and I couldn’t fall asleep scrolling through the Instagram explore page. Going on my phone turned into part of my daily routine, and I honestly thought that I needed my phone to survive, but I was very wrong. I can truly say that I didn’t miss my phone at all, and even when I was granted certain opportunities to use it, I opted not to.

There were so many wonderful experiences in India that I feel like I would have missed out on if I had my phone. For example, every day we would have some down time to do whatever we wanted before dinner, whether it was playing cricket, showering, or talking with friends. I always took this opportunity to lie in the grass, write in my journal, and have some great laughs with my friends. I know for a fact that if phones were to be introduced into that scenario, that free time probably would have been much different. With that being said, however, I honestly don’t think any of us missed our phones all that much. Yash Pujari, another student on the trip, even said “I didn’t really notice that [my phone] was gone.” And that was the truth. Once the surrounding culture, unique people and breathtaking scenery engulfed you, there was no need to be on your phone. I feel as if I can speak on behalf of the entire group when I say this, but because we were in India for such a short period of time, any time on our phones would have been a wasted opportunity.

Even after coming home from India, I noticed a huge change in regards to my dependency on my cell phone. I mean, sure, I still use it to text my friends, but I do not need it like I did in the past. I feel as if now it is much easier to put my phone away for long periods of time, as I don’t have the urge to check up on what has happened in the past two minutes of someone’s life. It is almost as if I can see the futility in cell phones now, as there is so much of the world that I can finally see now that I moved my iPhone screen out of the way. Thus, as my time in India was probably two of the happiest weeks of my life, it also taught me an important lesson to experience the world more and be engulfed in technology less. So, I guess I will leave you with a challenge. I challenge you to put your phone away for two weeks, and see what happens as a result. Did you notice things you never have before? Did you find yourself talking to more people? Did you finish your work faster? Did you realize that you are not as dependent on your phone as you thought you were?

Sierra LeBlanc
Grade 11 Student

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