In Focus

They Ensured Connectivity Amid Lockdown

By A Draft Colaba Correspondent

A month into the lockdown, when 72-year-old Felicita Gomes missed a step and, in the bargain, dropped her mobile phone at house, she knew she had asked for trouble. Staying by herself at an apartment in Colaba and fully dependent on the phone to establish any contact with the outside world, order her groceries, talk to friends, even talk to her only son living in the US, Felicita's worst fears had come true. Why, with the arrival of her 'smartphone' she had even disconnected her landline a good five years back. Then, even as the lockdown norms were being relaxed piecemeal most shops, including mobile repair shops remained shut. If it were not for her neighbourhood mobile repair technician Ubedullah Dhukka who agreed to visit her, all the way from Jogeshwari, to repair her phone, Felicita would have been left completely incommunicado during the lockdown.

MR DEPENDABLE: Many locals stuck with phone issues reached out for help to Ubedullah Dhukka

"I am very thankful to Ubedullah for stepping out of his home and travelling so far to help me. He saved me from insurmountable trouble and anguish," says Felicita who now keeps her mobile phone safely covered with a rubber guard and in her purse at all times to prevent a repeat. Colaba's Lucky Electronic owner Ubedullah says, "I have been working in Colaba for the last two decades and have a dedicated clientele who trust me and my services. How could I not help them when they needed me the most?" Despite a worrying family that includes wife Rehana and three children Rayyan, Nida and Mohammed, he made it a point to reach out each time someone called for help.

Mobile phones are an essential part of human lives today and the lockdown underlined their significance further. Not only were phones being used to order food, groceries, medicines, other essentials but also for banking, online medical consultations and staying in touch with friends and family at a time when movements were completely restricted.

ASSIST TONNES: Rahil at his shop
"Even essential service providers such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, police personnel, media personnel, etc., were hugely dependent on phones at the time. If a mobile phone stops working, life comes to a halt. I was contacted by many such essential workers who had urgent phone repair needs," says Mohammed Hasnain aka Rahil. Resident of Machchimar Nagar, Rahil has been working for the past eight years as repairing mobiles at his shop Bharti Communications and Mobile Repairing near Regal Cinema. "I opened my shop in the first week of June but even before that people were approaching me for repairing services. Ab phone lockdown dekh ke to kharab nahi hota na!" he explains.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed human lives and interactions. For many, home confinement was a boon and they got a chance to put their phones aside and spend time with their family. There were many more such as singles and the elderly who needed phones now more than anytime before to stay connected to the world outside and maintain sanity and some semblance of normalcy during the lockdown. Had it not been for these 'handymen', the lockdown could have taken a totally different turn in some people's lives.