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“My phone got stolen and I lost all my numbers”

By on Feb 23, 2010 in Personal | 4 comments

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You want an anecdote to demonstrate how polite the British can be? Here’s one.

You know those times when you receive a text message from someone whose number you haven’t yet stored as a contact? I’m sure we’ve all had moments like that. Back in India if something like this happens you’d probably send back a message saying “Who’s this?”, appending an ‘lol’ perhaps if the text was funny. Or maybe even “Who the fuck are you?”, in case you want to practise your French.

If the same thing happens here in UK though, this is the standard response people send back:

I’m sorry, but I lost my phone [alternatively, ‘my phone got stolen’] and I lost all my numbers. May I know who this is?

I kid you not, but this has happened with me at least 5-6 times so far – especially when I’m exchanging numbers with someone for the first time and the other person forgets to save my name as a contact. Then, when I get back to them via text (and if they’d forgotten to store my details), every time I got back a text which says pretty much precisely what I wrote above.

I can imagine British people having secret meetings in hidden lairs across the nation to decide protocols on issues such as this. “Yorrite lads, we need to come up with a jolly good protocol to maintain our stiff upper lip if we make a social faux pas in forgetting someone’s cellphone number.” I wonder whether cellphones sold in Britain have a ‘panic button’ which these genteel folk can rely on to send the nationally approved text response to awkward social situations.

It’s either that, or the poor British folk have rotten luck in actually getting constantly mugged and having their phones stolen.


Last Wednesday we had Headphone Disco at our students’ union nightclub. Basically, no sound is pumped through external speakers; instead, everyone gets their personal set of wireless headphones and can switch between a grand total of three different music choices – ‘DJ station A’, ‘DJ station B’, and ‘off’. (The two DJ stations being DJs on stage playing different music.)

Watch a clip from Headphone Disco at University of Surrey’s Rubix

As you can see in the short video above, it can be quite a weird experience. Bunch of folks seemingly dancing to…nothing at all. You can be on the dancefloor jigging along to some song when all of a sudden you realize all of your friends around you are on the other station and dancing along to something completely different.

The system does have its drawbacks. For instance, there was this one instance when both DJs started playing…started played…songs by Miley Fucking Virus.

Somewhere on this planet, Miley 'SnakeMonster' Virus is celebrating this coup

The ‘off’ station came handy at such times. The other problem was that wearing a decent set of headphones meant that a lot of people laboured under the delusion that they were good singers. The cacophony of ‘sing-alongs’ that I could hear even over my headphones was so terrible that it must be outlawed under international human rights standards.

When I first heard of Headphone Disco, I was curious to know how they handled clubbers breaking the supplied headphones. Did they have tracking systems installed, and dispatch a SWAT team to bust you in case you broke one?

Turns out they just take a £5 deposit before handing out the headphones.


While I’m at it, I might as well give an update on what’s happening in my life.

After a long Christmas break of basically watching my toenails grow, university life has been extremely hectic ever since the new semester started. I think I need to make a copy-paste template saying “I’m busy with work for The Stag and MAD TV and CoLab/SCEPTrE and gooble gobble gooble gobble“. Because I am, and also with all the labs and lectures which make for a much heavier study schedule. I usually get a handful of hours of sleep daily; after that, it’s back to keeping track of all the different things I’m doing and trying to make sense of what to do when.

BTW, I’m also blogging about my experience for The IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology). IET is UK’s professional body of engineers; in a sense, somewhat like IEEE in USA but covering more engineering disciplines. (Trivia – University of Surrey’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Christopher Snowden, is the current president of IET.)

I swear I think they've Photoshopped my neck to make it appear longer

So anyway, these ‘student diaries’ have been up for quite a while, and I intended to mention them here but totally forgot. Until today, when they pushed this out as the lead story in their student newsletter. On the other hand, I’m surprised that I got all that Hitchhiker’s stuff approved in my submissions to the IET so far. :D


  1. sahil

    February 24, 2010

    Post a Reply

    Well, that’s odd. I don’t know about you, but a lot of people here give the ‘Sorry, I lost my contacts’ excuse. I’ve got it several times, and I’ve seen many people give it too.

    • Ankur

      February 24, 2010

      Post a Reply

      Lost all the contacts? Yeah, heard that in India. But not lost the phone or the phone got stolen.

  2. Sathya

    February 25, 2010

    Post a Reply

    Seems like you’re having a blast out there.

    PS I’m guilty as charged for the phrase “Who’s this?”. Send an SMS or call them, depending my mood to find out who the other person is

    • Ankur

      February 26, 2010

      Post a Reply

      I usually don’t call back if I don’t know who the other person is.

      Also, people here find it hilarious if I call it an ‘SMS’ instead of a ‘text’ / ‘text message’.

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