The telecom line

The business was started in 1998. My father applied for a telecom licence with MTNL. A state owned telecom company providing Landline Connectivity in the Pre Internet, Pre Mobile, Pre Laptop, Pre Wifi era where i owned a Pager and messages were sent by paging.

Its only now, in 2017, 19 years later i came up with this thought as i came out of my office two days ago, about the Telecom Line. I didn’t think of it before, maybe i did but not with such vision. Maybe i could see it only now.

That the traffic of conversation in the Nehru Place computer market flows on a line. If a line is drawn on a paper, and it takes a longer time to lets say, sculpt a line in wood or metal, the line here took a year or longer or 19 years to become this way.

The way the line got created was that we laid out physical copper wire lines, all bundled up as pairs from one location to multiple locations in the market. Then the copper wire line which is surrounded by jelly to protect it gets terminated in a module. The module is like a line convertor. It is a place where lines are cut and can be interchanged. This way the route of the line changes. Like playing musical tones. Then the wire goes further into the customers premises and into the RJ 45 hole. The RJ 45 gives the continuity to the sound which travels on the line to the listener. So who draws?

Our company draws out the line, for people to communicate messages. People pay money to create this route, to disconnect it, to shift it, to give it life and they complain when the line is not in a flow, the broken line. Is it creative? No and yes. In a daily routine, it is about business and yes because of the very nature of drawing a line.

These lines are very thick in the beginning. They hang over buildings. They are sitting places for the pigeons. Some places these lines go underground and they resurface also.

The work, or the play of the line does not end here. Because certain hardware and software control them, the software allows for routing, re routing, or barring, of debarring facilities. It is a power control where you feed commands for lines to function in certain ways.

The conversations are measured not in the sense of data, as to who spoke what, and to whom and the stories they spoke of, the amount of business which transacted, but time and duration. Call is valued through time. The software dumps it in colours. Colours who made the call, the incoming and the outgoing route. Calls drops, people hang up, dial tones do not work. Things happen at all times.

Sometimes physically lines have been cut. the line cutters are thieves. Because this line can be sold. The buyers are who buy the value of the copper of the line. So here the line is stripped and weighed. Then line needs to be patched up. So the line has been joined in many places. Some places lines have been laid and routes are too dangerous to approach and buildings have sealed the routes. So you can not repair or get to portions of them.

But is it like drawing? Yes it is because there are drawings which depict its routes. Well that is drawing of a drawing. An illustration of lines which are laid out sometimes late in the evening or early in the morning before the market opens.

These lines , the beginning marks from the office which is on the seventh floor to the adjacent building or to be specific first floor of the same building have come armoured. So the cables need to be un armoured. They are to be stripped of their outer coating, to become lighter. They are like living beings and need care and repair.

The play of traffic, the travel of conversation begins or passes through the exchange through FLC’s. FLCs are line cards where conversations hop to the other side. I would not know the speed at what the sound waves travels. The exchange is always blinking. When the colour of a card changes from a green to red, the card is not functioning.

I see it as sculptural lines on which people talk. Could we hear the birds talk, terraces talk, or sounds where no one picks up the phone, just noises of different places in the market. Sound waves would travel. Strangers could be called to call from a number and tell their story.

These lines have their own history. They are carriers of conversations.


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