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August 2011
MISSED CALLS If someone says to you, “Give me a missed call,” you’d probably be confused—unless you’ve recently lived in India, where many people find the missed call quite useful. As Ajit Ranade writes in Mumbai Mirror, “an entire system of morse code, and communication system is built around the zero-paisa missed call. In this era of intense competition, the price of a phone call, of an SMS or a song download is coming down continuously. But nobody can beat a free missed call. I give you a missed call saying that I am downstairs. You give a missed call back, saying I am coming down. A whole conversation can take place!”

People are using the zero-cost missed call to opt-in to various programs or show their support for various campaigns. The Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption campaign drew support from more than 20 million missed calls.

The best part about a missed call is that you don’t have to actually talk. Just picture an Indian woman bragging to her friend, “My son really loves me. He calls me from America every Sunday and talks to me for an hour.”

“That’s nothing,” replies the friend. “My son gives me a missed call every single day.”

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips and more]

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