Smartphone Ritual over Food

During a company dinner marking the end of the Western calendar in Beijing, I found myself in an artificial yurt with authentic Mongolian saddles and paraphernalia. The attendants were completely in character and wore Mongolian attire all throughout the meal. After a few vegetable dishes, yoghurt and a type of mare's milk, one of the colorfully dressed waitresses brought in a huge side of carefully roasted lamb.


My Sony NEX-3NL did a good job capturing the show preceding the cutting of the mutton. If the photographs are shoddy that's the unskilled photographer's fault (me).

Now, I'm no stranger to huge pieces of meat on a platter and I'm intimately familiar with the mutated roasted pigs they cart out during fiestas. Everyone else, however, took out their smartphones (Sony, HTC, iPhone, Samsung models) and made an umbrella of mobile cameras over the hapless piece of lamb. I had already taken a photo for posterity using my Sony NEX-3NL but for some reason they all urged me to join the benediction. I awkwardly brought my ILC at an angle and took a photo at the same moment they did.


More photos of that lamb was taken that night than I did the whole year.

There are many new rituals involving consumer electronics that have popped up all over the world because of mobile devices. The abhorrent selfie, planking, the ridiculous use of tablets to take photos, and using a smartphone inside a cinema or queue are only some of the practices you see on a daily basis.

Despite working in the IT industry, I look at these practices with a mixture of amusement and dread. There are positive uses to mobile devices, my favorite of which is the ability of commuters to pass the time and entertain themselves en route to their destination. However, there are absolutely evil ones such as invading other people's privacy and naked selfies. And then there are odd ones like blanketing a cooked and succulent piece of lamb with mobile device sensors while eating at an expensive yurt.


One of the Mongolian musicians takes a bow as the show ends. Boy, I wish I wore a costume that cool when I played saxophone.


The Mongolian restaurant is located at 9 Yongtaizhuang North Road Haidian, Beijing, China. It's around a kilometer from the Yongtaizhuang subway station.


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