Phone Numbers

July 23rd, 2008 § 2 comments

Everyone in China has a cellphone, so I need a cellphone.

I go with Zack, who’s helping us get settled. He did my fellowship to China last year, and is going to leave to Taiwan in a week to do it there this year. He studies psychology at Berkeley and specifically cultural impacts on cognition, so that’s how he gets to swing this serial international thing.

You get to pick your own cellphone number from an available set, but you have to flip through a three ring binder where they are written in by hand. It’s semi-meticulous bookkeeping, as it only represents that they may still have this number which they have to shuffle through the whole pile for.

Next to each number is a different price because better numbers cost more money! Lucky digits are 6 and 8 and they drive the price of the number up, while 4s bring the price down. To get a sense for the significance of the number, 8 consider the fact that the olympics are starting at 8/08/08 8:08pm

I got, 150 10 900 940. I kinda like it and it was cheap, since it’s got a 4 in it. To me and probably to you, it’s good because it’s got more 0′s consequently easy to remember. I wonder if lucky numbers are easier to remember for Chinese, though remembering cellphone numbers is pretty useless.

Everyone has a cellphone, and many people have very fancy phones which seems to always be out and played with, for tv watching, internet surfing, or playing music. I’ve seen one that’s worn like a wristwatch accompanied with a small bluetooth device.

Text messaging is ubiquitous, especially among students, since it’s cheap. I later learn that China Mobile made 1.2 billion US$ from text messages during the last Chinese new year. Take what you will.

I had to purchase a ~35$ (220RMB) handset since my US carrier did not unlock mine. I see advertisements for gold plated/diamond studded hand sets for more than my US salary — not that that’s saying much. I’m a graduate student.

  • Mike Kayton

    The Chinese affinity for cell phones is on par with what the most rabid Western iPhone aficionado feels for his device. Even greater, perhaps. The device is a style and status symbol in the same way that automobiles were for 20th century America, and in the way that iPhones and Macbook Pros are in certain parts of San Francisco and New York City.

    The shou ji (hand set) is held in such high regard, that it is the owner’s duty to accept each and every incoming call, regardless of the circumstances, and to carry out each conversation to it’s natural completion.Turning one’s cell phone off during such sensitive times as dates, for example, seemed unfathomable. I once observed a man talk through the better part of a dinner while his lady friend looked on with a blank gaze that surely belied frustration simmering within.

    This reminds me of a relevant blog post:

  • reuven leigh

    how comes you’ve been there so long and we’ve heard so little? is the most culturally interesting aspect of china that you;ve observed in the past month their cell phone obsession?
    please give your adoring audience more, we crave your insights.