However, cell phones have contributed their own bit to enliven the lives of all persons, notably lawyers in courts. Lawyers with cell phones, who are walking in the corridors or standing under the trees or sitting in the lively benches outside court halls, present themselves in various moods, depending on the persons that are holding the conversations at the other side. The ‘switch off cell phone’ warnings on the court doors, notwithstanding, they ring, tweet, hoot, sing, drum at all times through the court proceedings. Reactions to them vary from among the judges, court staff, lawyers and litigants.
A lawyer speeding out of the court hall is probably choking the instrument with his hands inside the coat pockets, when his fingers are not nimble enough to silence it by pressing the correct button. The judge looks up to the sound of disturbance but he normally lets it pass. Litigants face a rather stiff chase. Chopkidars trot out speedily to catch the culprit and snatches the instrument to hand it over to the court officer. One thing is certain, the ringing cell phone is an object of revulsion, its possessor, a guileless character at that moment. It requires therefore enormous resourcefulness to appreciate a moment of levity in the rather mundane, humourless forays within the court halls.
Recently, when the cell phone rang and not knowing where the sound was coming through, every one in the court hall looked up in embarrassment to spot the offender speeding out. The judge looked up too, leaned on his large table and queried with a twinkle in his eyes, ‘why does that person not have the latest ringing tone’? The lawyers just loved the interlude and broke into laughter. Yet another time, when the cell phone rang, the chopkidar, sitting near the judge facing the lawyers, sprang to his feet to trace the source of sound. He soon realised that it emanated not from the direction opposite to him but came from behind. He turned round and just then the judge slightly lifted himself from seat and pulled out the gadget from his pant pockets to switch it off! Now, the lawyers did not smile back; they exchanged glances with their friends with glistening eyes, by suppressed laughter! Some time ago, when an officer from the registry had been called to receive some stiff warning for some act of indiscretion reflected through some docket entry, he was standing near the judge’s table, when his cell phone rang. He dropped the file that he was clutching at and pulled out the cursed instrument to switch it off. The lawyers froze but the judge just smiled, asked him to leave the hall and see him in his chambers during the lunch recess!
SMSes are less intrusive and still lesser disturbance-prone. SMS jokes are a new genre and they also add spice to relieve the court room dreariness. They transport a whole lot of hilarious material, traversing through distant continents. They are meant to be discarded instantaneously or forwarded only to your most intimate friend! They shall not be, as a rule, allowed to be read from your gadget. Even when the recipient is standing next to you, the practice is to send it to his number for him to read it from his own cell. A joke through SMS is a personal possession!
Spontaneous laughter says Arthur Koestler in his book, ‘The Act of Creation’, is produced by the co-ordinated contraction of fifteen facial muscles in a stereotyped pattern and accompanied by altered breathing. Its manifestation may vary from smile to broad grin to the facial contortions typical of the loud laughter. Civilised laughter is rarely quite spontaneous. Amusement can be feigned or suppressed; to a faint involuntary response, we may add at will a discreet chuckle or a leonine roar; and habit formation soon crystallizes these reflex-plus-pretense amalgams into characteristic properties of a person. Whatever the type of person you are, carry humour with you always. Let the civility of the occasion, time and place dictate the decibels of that expression!