Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The proliferation of social networking sites and its increasing popularity have really enthralled and appalled the entire world. Till a few years back when computers meant those B&W boxes which had to be fed with intelligent codes by the human species to perform tasks taught in schools & colleges in the confines of the classrooms amidst boring lectures. Zoom to the present, class 8th and 9th students have presence on most of these social networking sites, they are there scrapping, poking, sharing pics, commenting in full swing. Way to go Gen Y & X, living in a hyper-connected world, thriving in the web 2.0 world and announcing to the world that they have arrived.

Having discovered Orkut & Gtalk a few years back in my college days, I felt I had unleashed a genie in my life in the form of my online presence. Little did I know then, that in a few years time these would become a part of my social existence and identity. Little did I realize then, that the handwritten letters will be replaced by scraps, the meetings will be replaced by greetings of ‘hi….what’s up?’, that get together of friends could be replaced by online forums, that physical albums would be replaced with digital ones with options of comments & like/dislike, that emoticons will replace the real emotions and words. Just like a nameplate and a house address, social networking sites have become the proof points of an individual’s existence. The world knows it all whether you are ecstatic, gloomy, sneezed, irritated, had a great day, the last movie you saw, the party you last attended etc etc. Wohooo what a revolution this one is!!!

Recently some interesting developments on the social networking sites compelled me to ponder over this great viral revolution eclipsing the entire mankind. A few months back read a news article of how a man divorced his wife on Facebook by writing Talaq Talaq Talaq on her wall. So, after marriages on the web, the new trend is separation on the web. What a convenient way to wash your dirty linen in the public without having to face the person. Way to go technology!!! My cousin studying in class 8th has a super hectic online life with Orkut, Facebook accounts and would much rather prefer catching up with random people virtually than with family and friends in reality. He prefers to ping his cousin staying on a floor above than just hopping over to the first floor. In his friend circle, the social status of a guy or girl is basis the number of scraps and the number of friends on these sites. Connectivity in the true sense!!! This friend of mine, who has recently purchased this snazzy handset with a xyz megapixel camera, makes sure that no gathering or moment passes without a click of the shutterbugs, capturing every grin and movement. Makes me wonder at times, whether her sole aim of attending gatherings or catching up sessions is to add to her album on FB & Orkut. Nasty thought!!! But with all the click clicks around, at times I really ponder whether in the whole exercise of capturing the beautiful moments; we forget to live those cherished moments.

With more and more involvement online and presence on these social networking sites, I have begun missing those good old letters, cards, physical reunions and a lot of emotions (not emoticons :P). Nothing can replace the excitement of opening a letter sent by someone, reading and re-reading them till you can recollect each and every word, the smell of the paper brings back strange feelings. Miss those colorful cards for every occasion and the scribbles in it. The nostalgia of flipping through old albums and laughing over the expressions and incidents can never be replaced by commenting on the digital photographs. Yeah may sound archaic in the era of web 2.0….but I guess I’m a little worried with the fast pace of our online existence and the slow pace of our real existence.

Last to last week, in order to do something in this direction and reduce my online presence during the weekend, I decided to attend a few concerts and functions. Had an amazing weekend with outings, get together and cultural functions. Felt that I was living after a long time instead of pinging, orkutting, facebooking or tweeting. One of the concerts I attended was by the sitar maestro Pt. Ravi Shankar & daughter Anoushka Shankar. Was a divine experience under the open sky, but guess what after the concert ended, my first urge was to go back home and put my status ‘Yayyyy what a weekend’, not to miss that I also managed to click pics of the concert on my new handset with a 3.2 megapixel camera. Way to go online socializing :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Just another day in the numerous days we celebrate in the 365 days cycle. I have often wondered and debated how relevant is it to celebrate these days, as in why only a special day to say somebody I care, I love, best wishes. But then probably, yes it just requires that special day to tell we care and we are there, be it birthdays, anniversary, mother’s day, father’s day, environment day, friendship day or Valentine’s Day.

The earliest recollection that I have of 14th Feb dates back to school days. Suddenly in class 7th or 8th this particular date in the month of February became a one to look forward to, with all the hype created courtesy all the music videos, merchandise and the card companies. So, there we had all the shy geeks, the roadside romeos, the lovelorn kids discovering their feelings for a certain somebody and expressing the same packaged in flowers, cards, teddies, gifts. The innocent feelings, the don’t know how to react situations, the hidden messages, the wasted hours trying to catch a glimpse all seemed so perfect, straight out of a Bollywood romance. But I think after those initial years, this date has never meant anything much to me.

This year suddenly a certain Mr. Muthalik has helped the cause of the lovers of India and contributed immensely to the making of the V-Day movement. The attack on the women in a Mangalore pub has suddenly made the Valentine’s Day a movement among the youth. From the Consortium of Loose Pub going women to the Pink Chaddis, the movement spread far and wide across the nation courtesy the social networking sites and the media hype. So, on the D-day the pink chaddis made front page news across all the papers and maximum airtime was allotted to the noble cause. The channels were flooded with reports on how a brother sister duo was beaten by a certain group for roaming together, shots of a woman’s face blackened for roaming around with a guy, a couple forcefully married, a few chased from gardens and other hangouts etc etc.

Amidst all this I happened to be roaming in the streets of Connaught Place on the 14th. What a sight! It seemed like a festival around, with all nicely decked up guys and girls with flowers and cards in hands. Shops filled with V-Day special goodies, discounts, restaurants offering special couple menu, decorations with neon lights and the red colour all around, made me feel either I live in a different world or probably this is a different world. Getting a place to dine where couples did not indulge in any public display of affection seemed a little bit of a task. Also, a visit to a popular cafĂ© joint proved to be much more amusing. Finally, after managing to get a seat for a round of conversation over a cup of coffee I was a little taken aback to know that they would only serve the special Valentine’s Day couple menu irrespective of whom you were with and how much you care for the Valentine’s Day. So, forced to choose a mushy cold coffee from the V-Day special menu, I was left with a bitter taste of the whole pink campaign.

What I found amusing in this entire episode was that how a certain incident led to a national movement out of just another day in the list of 365 days. So, in the campaign of pink vs saffron, my vote goes to none. As much as I despise, the Ram Sene for their heinous crime, I also cannot convince myself to be a propagator of the pink campaign. Actually on the hindsight, I was just wondering the attack on the Mangalore pub was so strategically timed (only a few days ago 14th Feb), that this leads me to smell a different conspiracy. Mr. Muthalik hope you were not funded by the so called card and goodie MNCs to make a movement out of nothing. Just a wild thought!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Born an individual............will die an individual. Isn't it? But in the middle of both these acts we tread a long path, a path strewn with many relationships, some we choose, some we are gifted with and probably some we are loaded with. These bitter sweet relationships make what our life is or is it the other way round? At times we do not even realize while bridging the gap from one to the other.......leaving some unfinished, some open ended, some sealed for a lifetime, some made to be forgotten........that at times in the process of juggling all these we forget the individual within us.

No, no wait now this is not what I had intended to write about and this is not an agony aunt column on relationships. What I do want to write here is about the one constant question that is a package deal of any introduction. 'So are you seeing someone?' At times I really want to reply back: 'Yeah I have two eyes and I am seeing the whole world.' (This is only when I am not in the right frame of my cheerful personality :P) Why such a strong reaction to such an innocent question? With all due respect to the people who question, this is not an innocent question. This question is a vicious circle because this is the cause to the miseries of many people who are happy and absolutely fine with their single status.

Living in a very well connected fast moving world where the relationship status from being single to committed to engaged and back to single is a regular phenomenon, ideally this question should not matter much. But that is not the case, it has a chain reaction to a lot of other issues. Now with the advent and proliferation of social networking sites the relationship status on the profile is the first indication of what is going on your life. Next when you manage to bump into old friends or acquaintances or far off relatives online, the next very obvious question other than ‘wassup’ ‘where r u these days?’ is the most pivotal question ‘So are you seeing someone?’ A ‘no’ to this question is almost unacceptable to most people. ‘So how is it you are not seeing someone?’ ‘Come on out with the truth’ ‘Staying away and with an active social life I’m sure there must be guys in your life’ NO, NO, NO and a bigger NO I do not wish to answer any. I refuse to be glared strangely with the weird query ‘how come you have never been in a relationship?’ I utterly disgust being told in sympathetic terms ‘I’m sure you’ll meet the man of your dreams soon.’ Sorry, I am not waiting for any Prince Charming to come and sweep me off my feet.

At times, I wonder are we part of that so called progressive world or have we successfully managed to wear a garb of modernism to cover the thick layer of hypocrisy surrounding us. Yes, we are modern, now we can openly talk about gays with Bollywood movies being made on this taboo topic, but yes we know it exists but we are not aware of any in our circle. We are aware that safe sex is a campaign driven by the government and NGOs but we cannot avoid flipping the TV channel when an ad of the same campaign shows up. We know that a girl has similar if not better career opportunities yet she is not considered settled in life if she is earning her own livelihood and living life on her own terms. We accept all those celebrated terms of women independence and liberalization but after a certain age a girl has to get married………Yeah absolutely right and we are living in a modern, liberal society……Jai Ho!