“Seventy-nine percent of smartphone owners check their device within 15 minutes of waking up every morning. A 2011 university study suggested people check their phones 34 times per day. The technologies we use have turned into compulsions if not full-fledged addictions. Face it, we are hooked!” (Hooked- by Nir Eyal)
Today our kids are back to school. On the last Sunday of summer vacations, we went to a new Udupi Park restaurant for breakfast. We had tried all the Udupi restaurants around and this one was new and fresh. So kids and wife got hooked. As they say, “familiar no longer sounds exciting, need novelty.” We were escorted to a table of four, backed to a wall. The sofa side went to kids and hard back to us. My attention was drawn to the two tables next to us. In one table were an elderly couple with their newly married son and daughter-in-law. How did I figure this out? All 4 had their smart phones and in every minute, there were selfies and groupies. Of course, the newlyweds were making more eye contact. On the other side of our table was a lonely couple . How did I figure this out? Both had smart phones and they were talking to someone else and chatting to someone else and thinking of someone else! Far far away from eye contact.
My daughter took the smartphone out. Then I politely asked her to keep it inside the bag. In the next one hour, we had an experience we could relish. Apart from enjoying the food we were connecting and getting in details on the origin of the Udupi Park Insignia- the Udupi Krishna’s flute. My wife described the story and kids started engaging with their food. The background song was an instrumental-a flute recital and I and my wife jogged our memory cells for the melody. I got it right this time, it was from V Shantaram’s movie and the song was Pankh Ude toh udd jaati re. Kids luckily did not ask who is this Shantatram?
Incidentally I had the “Starbucks Experience” book with me. We couldn’t help comparing the Starbucks coffee experience with the Udupi coffee experience. My wife mentioned that like Starbucks all the staff members smiled at us and they were well dressed. They also had a simple menu and the experience of placing the order was nice.
Finally, my elder daughter who does not reach out for non fiction books reached out to pick up this book. “Mind can be convinced but the heart must be won.” I was happy to note that she picked up the book and considered some of those Starbucks beliefs.
This experience was in stark contrast to some experiences in the past where we got the wrong order , got dubious food and experienced a timeless wait for the cheque. One thing which stood out for me from this short rest’aura‘nt experience was the absence of a smart device and also our own decision to be gadget free during that time. The experience was a good way to give the kids a good segue from the vacations to the school opening and it was also a time for all of us to connect and discuss the next weeks’ plan.
The Udupi experience was reminiscent of Starbucks chief Howard Schultz’s quote, “We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee.” It is about surprise and delight. According to San Francisco State University’s Ryan Howell’s study, “Every dollar you spend on an experience with another person is a well-being experience. Over time material items are just crashing and life experiences are staying stable.”
From March end till May end, the kids had a great time during vacation and I am sure they had some great moments to cherish. The Sunday experience was a chance to recollect what they remembered.
How we turn any moment into a great experience is up to us. In this case it was just coffee and a book. The most interesting point was to turn that ordinary coffee shop setting into a different level of experience by Digital Device Detox and capturing all the signals (sight, sound, smell) from the environment and leveraging it to enjoy that moment with the people around you.
Once in a while , let us “Unhook our devices to hook up to the world around us.”