In major cities across the world much like Jakarta and Singapore, many of us peer at our smartphones, skimming the news on their way to the office, or scroll through the muted group chat on Whatsapp that we have neglected to open for far too long.
Meanwhile at the peak of a small mountain on an island in Togean, Sulawesi, local Indonesian islanders keep their eyes fixed on a different phone’s screen, hoping with bated breath for at least one meagre bar of signal. It’s like a hunt for a rare Pokémon. Some even scale the tallest coconut tree, gripping with just their feet and one hand with their other arm outstretched in space, waving the phone in the air lest it yield any luck.
Instead of a typically large red and white mobile phone antenna, a stick adorned by a hollowed coconut husk is wedged into the earth, marking the precise point where precious signal might leak through like a crack in the universe… cherished by each phone user in turn, as though it were the final drops of coconut water on a hot day.
It could be seen by some as tragic, that so many residents must wait their turn to make a phone call as if connectivity were being rationed like food, post-war. God forbid, any emergency would spell disaster for most. Even our precautionary satellite phone hardly fared any better than a typical feature phone as if the satellites orbits were also ignoring this patch of paradise.
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