(From China Daily)
Anyone who has watched Australian television will almost certainly remember a commercial for a roll-on deodorant called "Mum." Its clever message had variations on a theme where an attractive towel-draped young woman revealed: "I can do without my washing machine, I can do without my coffee, I can even do without my car. But I can't do without my Mum." That commercial sprang to mind when writing this story, because I wondered what most Chinese urban dwellers cannot possibly do without. In my view, it is their mobile phones.
On foot, on bikes, in private cars, taxis and public transport, they are in constant use.
Just the other day I was in the men's room at a restaurant. The caller had one hand on his phone, and the other - well I guess you get the picture.
Stubborn resistance Before coming to China last year, I resisted buying a mobile phone. I had never used one, unable, or perhaps unwilling to come to grips - mentally or physically - with the one form of technology which Chinese of all ages seem to handle as naturally as their chopsticks.
My daughter nearly drove us crazy when she bought her first mobile in Melbourne. My wife and I were faced with huge bills as the device became irresistible, and our talkative little girl now a teenager, became addicted.
"I promise I'll cut down," she would say, but nothing changed. It got worse.
"We did OK without one," was our feeble retort, and while I conceded their usefulness in times of emergency, I objected contributing to the mobile phone companies' rapidly rising profits.
It did not take long to realize that China not only has more people than anywhere else; it seems everyone of them possesses a mobile phone. I would later discover many, including children, own more than one.