Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sim Life

If you are a self-respected migrant worker slash globetrotter these days, then chances are you have a stash of cell phone sim cards tucked away somewhere. These are the evidence that differentiate between you and the regular traveler.

Sure enough, we all own cell phones with multiple Gs attached to the model description, and have signed up for convoluted contracts that allow us to call whether we are thirty thousand feet above ground or away from the nearest phone booth. But really, being a multiple sim-card carrying member of society in our deluded state of being gives us a certain guilty pleasure—as if having a local number is an acceptable proxy to having a base, of being temporarily grounded and by extension, a sense of belonging.

In an unlikely way, these tiny little plastic chips have become pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that has come to represent life (or, at least my life in the past year). One day, should my collection of sim-cards be excavated (and should the technology still exist to read them), one will find a truly random collection of pictures—mostly of food, dilapidated buildings in grim light and close-ups of faces, with some very distinguishable, yet more very generic, backgrounds. They will see telephone numbers against name after name, but belonging to people from different generations, persuasions, and worlds. Strings of numbers of various lengths, it will be a rather lengthy forensic exercise to decipher to which country each one belongs. The best part still, are the conversations recorded in the SMS compartment. Disjointed as they may be at first glance, these text messages- with spelling mistakes, SMS-isms and the wrong choice of predictive text, have the potential to one day become the building blocks of an epic novel. Because these small parcels of bits and bytes have somehow become our channel for empathy, want, dread, excitement, love, hate, boredom, … our impressions of life.

Forget about time capsules. Sim-cards are the way to go. They are the archives- the scribes, of the modern day migrant worker.

Oh, and here’s a product idea for you clever ones out there: a snazzy sim card wallet to hold onto these precious memories—or that much needed sense of belonging, of that feeling of groundedness.

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