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What your ringtone says about you!
Suman Chhabria-Addepalli
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November 12, 2007

Waiting for my much-dreaded dental appointment became worse when another patient's shrieking cell phonejolted me out of my reverie.

It was the kinky title track, "Kab tak jawaani chhupaogi raani" (How long will you hide your youth) from the movie Mujhse Shaadi Karogi.

As I stifled my laughter and momentarily forgot the pain in my tooth, I wondered what kind of personality this person boasted with a ring tone like that.

Many would share my sentiment on hearing such a tone, thanks to an emerging, unspoken understanding that is generated with simple observation. Today a ring tone does far more than alert one to the fact that someone's calling. The lyrics and songs on your cell phone send a (more often than not) loud and clear signal to everyone around about who you are or who you would like people to think you are.

As phones become fancier and more technologically advanced, more people are taking advantage of ever-evolving mobile applications, ring tones included!

Analyst Dana Thorat at IDC, a technology research firm, estimated that 9.9 million people downloaded ring tones in 2003, up from 4.8 million in 2002. IDC predicts that number will grow to 54.3 million by the end of 2007.

"My ring tone reflects my mood for the fortnight," says Purnima Bakshi, a software professional. "I spend hours surfing the net, willing to pay every month for that one tone that my phone would play out several times a day. I admit I want people to notice every time I change a caller tune or ring tone, because it says something about me."

It is something like a declaration sent out into the world to announce your taste, your personality and often your sense of humour, amusing whoever is within earshot.

Then again, it helps to remember that many people use these tones even to solicit a giggle.

The biggest market for ring tones is teenagers, which explains the explosion of weird jokes and novelty songs, or even sentences like "Hi Handsome!" heard on Abhishek Bachchan's [Images] mobile phone in the movie 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom' which then move on to become bestsellers!

Again, what's up on offer these days, is enormous! It seems telephone operators push themselves to ensure they have the latest, funkiest, funniest or even most pretentious choices available for an insatiable, discerning -- and willing-to-spend clientele!

What ring-tone fits your personality best? Some websites offer insights into this with ring-tone personality quizzes. They ask such things as what your favorite style of music/dressing up/partying is, how fast you drive, how many CDs you have at home, how often you go to live music shows, what your favourite colour is and what your favourite vacation spot is among other things. They then assess your personality and come up with recommendations of ring tones especially for you (I was gregarious and adventurous!).

Of course, most of us don't need a quiz to direct us, and instinctively know which is that merawala song, that says a lot about us!

Given the wide variety of human types out there, you'd think each ring tone would convey a confusing variety of meanings. But speaking to those who refuse to use them, you realise that that the overwhelming majority who do, mainly want to appear different, and to an extent, likeable.

One such person untouched by this revolution, so to speak, is Hemant B C, head of operations at Shrenuj & Co Ltd (one of the world's largest diamond jewelry exporting houses). "I never use a ring tone on my mobile, or a caller tune." he declares. Funny, having a Nokia communicator doesn't inspire him either. "I don't think it's professional to have your boss listen to a Bollywood number when he is trying to get in touch," he says, "Also, since I find it annoying to listen to a caller tune, I will not subject others to one!"

An instance shared by Hemant, sort of explains his stern viewpoint "We were once in the conference room, trying to get in touch with a junior executive in another city, who had not delivered some urgent documents. He was already two days late in sending it, and was not answering his phone. All we got the five times that we tried his number, was his idiotic 'Yaaron, dosti' (from a song by KK) ring-tone! Nice song, but it did nothing to soothe the rising blood pressure of the CEO, who banged the speaker-phone shut."

So moral of the story: if you're working, it is better to figure out your boss's personality, before you decide on the ring-tone that's suits your own!

But if you are one who sways only to your own mood, here's some help on how to get your own looney tune.

Now, get ready to reveal your all-new personality statement whenever your phone rings!
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