I have been very remiss in my blogging of late, (largely) for 3 reasons: I went on holiday to Mozambique, my Blackberry crashed and I’m now not going into the office in the morning traffic (which I was using as blog time on my phone).

The getaway to Maputo wasn’t as anticipated, with our ‘fun in the sun’ style island daytrip getaway plans thwarted by dreary overcastness. We instead spent Saturday exploring the city and were disappointed to see how derelict it is, with spotty reminders of what its former glory must have been like. The locals are also a lot less hospitable than their counterparts in the many and varied destinations we have visited and we had to draw information out of hotel staff as if local tourism was a secret of national proportions. Nonetheless, we embraced the R&R value frittering away hours enjoying the lush hotels and their facilities, admiring the panoramic views from our famed hotel terrace, gazing out at the sea from Waterfront watering holes and ensconced in local frenzy in the city centre… all the while sipping on Laurentina (and the odd local favourite, rum and raspberry).

The holiday blush was short-lived and I returned home to immediate holiday hangover blues, finding that my Blackberry wasn’t any better than it had been when it crashed to white screen ( and wouldn’t even respond to an IT Crowd ‘turn it off and on again’ so I had suspected that something was serious, but had maintained grave hope that a weekend of rest would help). This had happened on Friday at the airport, while I was logging into Foursquare to try and get the not-everyday ‘on a plane’ badge – no such luck, crashed before I got there (although must remember that bright side is that perhaps rather have the plane badge crash than the plane itself!)

Being away without a phone was one thing – and probably for the best – but getting home to zero comms was very unsettling (sounds melodramatic, but for an obsessive communicator like me it’s like losing your left arm – you know that technically you can be perfectly fine without it, but ‘fine’ is a word you use mostly when you’re really not). Having arrived home on Monday night, there was no action to be had until Tuesday morning anyway. I took the phone into Autopage (phone in one hand and battery in the other) and was told that the software had to be reinstalled or somesuch and that it would take at least the rest of the day or might need an overnight.

The clerk said he’d ‘call me’ when it was ready. Oh yes? Call me where? He asked me for my ‘other number’ like it was the most natural thing in the world. I don’t have one. Said he’d call me at the office. I don’t go to one. At home? Nope, Telkom deems the area to not be ‘economically viable’ for landlines… because everyone has cell phones. I asked if they offer loan phones. Yes! (he beams) and tells me to fill in the forms, which he will then send to Head Office and they’ll call me and let me know in 48 hours if I can borrow one. Call me? 48 hours? Seriously?!

So I did what I should have done much earlier… I called my Mom. No problem, she says: she has my Pappy’s upgrade – a Blackberry – sitting in its box (as it has been for several months as they’re both petrified of the complicated procedure it takes to smart up one of these smartphones) and I’m very welcome to use it for as long as I need to. She even offered to drop it off, with lunch to sweeten the deal. Bonus.

The phone is a Blackberry Pearl, which has the old style keyboard with the 3 letters per number format instead of the QWERTY button-per-letter. I can’t believe how much I have unlearned in the last 2 years! I was rendered virtually impotent on this phone – and resigned myself to understanding that this was the most temporary of measures to see me through The Dark Time. Didn’t install anything, didn’t save any contacts and used it only for the most necessary of communications as predictive text clearly isn’t the forgiving type and punished me incessantly for being flirty with QWERTY. My blackest hours had become dark grey.

The Autopage chap had initially seemed quite positive that with the restore process, he’d be able to retrieve all my data, contacts and settings, but by the time I went into the shop a day and a half later, there was a deep furrow in his brow and the prognosis was bleak.

He’d had to reinstall the software 4 times to get it to complete the process but, even after 4 more quality hours sitting in the store (foursquare, four times, four hours, unfourtunate for me!) trying all sorts of plugs and apps, there was still no sign of my contacts. Eventually, I conceded defeat and accepted that we’d done everything possible and it was all gone.

The bright side? The clerk had ascertained that I was due for an upgrade and successfully processed it – even managing to get me a free upgrade on my upgrade! – so I now have a shiny new Blackberry 9300… that was super simple to set up seeing as there was absolutely nothing to carry across to it.

As for the lost contacts, I’m viewing it as a sign that the slate was wiped clean on, of all days, 1 September. I came out of an unexpectedly revelationary August with a new schedule and a new plan and, while this whole episode has felt really traumatic, the truth is that although this change isn’t as good as my holiday, it’s really not that difficult to reconnect with lost contacts these days what with email, Facebook, Skype, MSN, Twitter, email making most people a single message away.

But one’s phone is more personal; we have it appended to a palm most of the time, pat pockets feverishly when it’s out of sight and put barriers and locks in place to secure our content. I am admittedly a hopeless crackberry addict and have chosen to cell my soul, so to have a telephonic blank slate in a time of such contemplation for me is perhaps a blessing in disguise, willing an exercise in self-restraint and consideration of who I want and need a call away. A bit of a forced housekeeping exercise on who it is that I wish to maintain contact with moving forward; realising that my Contacts should actually be people that i do intend to (unapologetically) contact (irrespective of how frequently or infrequently).

It’s not necessarily ‘out with the old and in with the new’, more like out with the phonies, re-in with the valued olds and more discriminate about the news. Spread myself too thin now and the Spring-cleaning will have been a waste – as flippant and unfelt as unfriending, unfollowing, and BBM deletes. It’s like pulling the PIN out of a grenade and exploding a mess of Messenger contacts; just retreading trodden ground and taking a whirl around the same old (friend) block. It’s about choosing the people worth recovering if there is a next time, which is apparently super-simple with Blackberry Protect that is pre-installed on the phone and backs up all your contacts and settings regularly and automatically… and which *everyone’s* telling me about, now that it’s too late! Fat lot of good my old contacts did on helping me with that one – the solution to all my problems was right there all along! – but I’m spreading the word to anyone who will listen to save them the trials i have endured.

The long and short of making a long story even longer, is that hopefully this September (20)11 tragedy will do some good, and the crash will lead to building a plain and simple future. Viva la liberation! Viva la future!


(PS: Erm… Call me! 😀 )