Scanorama column: See ya later, navigator

Remember back in the day when mobile phone calls began with a cheery, “guess where I’m calling from?” No? Well, they did. Those were the days when mobile phone were still called “car phones,” and calling from your car was the coolest thing imaginable.

These days, navigators are all the rage. There’s no guessing where we are anymore, we know it exactly.

I always thought that the whole navigator business was just another scheme the automakers and mobile manufacturers were trying to convince us of, to be able to push some premium-priced product of theirs.

Good for a laugh or two – funny accents, interesting wordings plus the idea of having a talking car! – but not really useful in everyday life.

And then my wife went for a walk on our holiday, and got lost. “Guess where I’m calling from,” she said. “I don’t know, either,” she said after my reply.

“I can see the river from here, and I walked past a pub and a convenience store”, she said and then told me the name of the street she was on. Garden Walk. I pulled out my father’s Yellow Pages and started to look for the Garden Walk. Didn’t find it, but I knew the general direction so I jumped in the car and started driving towards her, and then called her on the way. Ten minutes later, we connected on a small road, as she waved happily to me.

The Garden Walk was tiny, probably just a reminder to an absent-minded person living there.

However, that was the rational reason I needed to get myself a navigator. Besides never getting lost, I’ve found that the navigator saves me time because I don’t have to allocate any extra minutes for “best I leave early in case I can’t find the place.” Today, my 4-year-old son echoes the navigator’s directions from the back seat on our way to get the groceries. He’s developing a fantastic British accent.

Guess where I’m writing this? 59°30′N, 17°98′E.

(Ran in the October issue of Scanorama).

How does that make you feel?