Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The lights dim and the drums roll..

My first steps in cyberspace were way back in early 1997. It was a very different experience then. It was a time of desktops with wires connected to a modem which in turn was connected to a landline from where you would dial one VSNL number (each city had one or at best two lines) and pray to god, harder than you had on the day before your Maths exam in Class X, that you get connected.

What followed, after clicking on a grey button that said “Connect”, was an audio-visual nightmare. The modem would start screeching like a pig about to be slaughtered. The dialogue box would change to show you two telephones (1980 style land line instruments) connected asymmetrically through a wire, and a red square cursor like thing, frantically moving from one phone to the other over the wire. The noise and the scurrying ‘Red Box’ was meant to tell you that your pass is getting checked in the Heavenly Gates of the Internet.

More often than not, you would hear the blood freezing, deathly "engaged" tone, which meant try again. And again, and again, and again, and again. Till suddenly, just when you are ready to yank out the wires from the modem and hang yourself, you get connected. The screeching pig would make a strange hiccupping cluck-cluck noise and you were in! The world was at your fingertips.

This was during my MBA days. The internet was used by us- aspiring corporate captains of tomorrow- mainly for two reasons: porn and personal email. Google was not there (Yahoo! ruled that time) and the closest thing to Wikipedia was a Tamilian Brahmin in the senior batch (he knew everything about everything basically). Using the internet as a research tool started only in the dying months of my course there.

It’s in the genetic code of human beings to start carving out and appropriating personal spaces every time new ‘land’ is discovered. On the internet, it came in the form of personal email.

Having an email ID that time was a matter of prestige. It was not at all common place. When you said, “send me an email”, you made a statement about yourself. You were seen to be cool, connected and viewed with the same envy and awe as the guys who will be the first off the block to buy the i-phone. It was a big event, getting your email ID created.

My love affair with the net started with an email ID too. Hotmail was the poshest domain name. And not getting the name that you wanted as your ID was an alien concept. So in 1997, shome_23@hotmail.com was created. I added my age 23 to the name so that I never forget the year when this momentous event happened.

I remember the delight that I experienced when I got my own email ID. And when MSN wrote their first mail to me addressed as “Dear Shome_23”, I almost creamed in my pants. I was suddenly a part of a different world. An elite, if you please. A man with an identity.

I told everyone about my email ID. Friends, family, shop keepers, credit card pushers, free news letters on the net, web sites that promised me daily updates, everyone. I wanted the whole world to know that shome_23 has arrived and willing to correspond with like minded ‘haves’ of the world.

Slowly of course the excitement withered away. The only real mail I got was from my room mate, who was so fed up with my constant follow up on whether he remembers my mail ID or not, wrote me a nasty mail:

“Dear Shome,
If you ask me one more time I will wring your neck. Fuck you!”

I was shocked to say the least. I thought that the “Fuck you” at the end was completely uncalled for. He had already made his point.

My parents tried. They wrote my email ID on regular mail, under the full postal address and sent it. They also mentioned in the sheets of letter that I should let them know if I got this letter ‘faster’!

Things further degenerated, as mails on “Young teens are waiting for you” started flooding in followed by mails on “Enlarge your penis – Safely and Permanently”. Soon my coveted ID was cobweb ridden and neglected. I started to go to my mail box, only to delete the junk and keep it running. The thought of letting my first email ID die a natural death was just too cruel.

To this day, I maintain that account. I still get mails on “You have won $100,000” or “These girls like it rough”, but I don’t care. Occasionally a lost friend uses it to re-establish contact and sometimes, I click on my archives to re-read all the 7 mails from MSN and other portals that I got on the first day shome_23 was created.

Today, I am opening another first: my blog. The portal to my world…..for the world.

I feel the same kind of excitement as I did when shome_23 was born. And I know that I am going to be as obsessed, if not more, with this thing. I have visions of people rushing in to read my thoughts and commentary on the affairs of the world. I know none of that is going to happen on its own. I will have to push and prod you people. So get ready for follow up sms.

Few things: I am doing this for an audience. Not as a vent for my thoughts and feelings (I have wife and friends for that). So please comment copiously. This is for you.

Secondly, I am very poor with criticism. If you don’t like something, lie through your teeth. Honest, constructive feedback does not work for me. I will come after you, and I will hurt you.

And last, tell your friends about this place.

With that, I step aside and draw the curtains. Welcome to my world!


Shaswati said...

Hi, well, I have the priviledge of leaving the first comment on your blog. I have earlier read a piece or two of your writings on Svety's blog. In fact, I've been one of those ardent fans (in the backstage) who really wanted to see your own blog - and now it's here. Just keep writing - it's amazing. You keep writing and I promise a lot more of mutton rezala, prawns in mustard, etc.

svety said...

aha,, with great pride, I hearby comment...in tru shome style u have made me smile through ur post and trust me when i say this, it was well worth the wait sweetheart...
I can see shaz has already beaten me to the historic first..and i'm not giving him the hilsa...so there

Mausumi said...

I believe that there are two kinds of bloggers…the ones who have their own blogs and are, therefore, essentially exhibitionists… and the ones who read others’ blogs and hence indulge in their voyeuristic traits. Grudgingly, I must admit though,that in recent times I have been forced to create a third category“ blogs that I love to read ”. Keep blogging…you are doing the alma mater rather proud.

Mahua said...

Rememeber that disasterous(thank-the-lord)reply all mail you wrote?

Had that not happened, we wouldnt have been here you know.

the mad momma said...

i just bumped in to your blog via Rohini and boy am I glad! keep it coming.

Vee said...

welcome to blogging! with all your ramblings, you were destined to end up here. :)

Ramsay said...

you, sir,......are a funny man!!

mads said...

"I will come after you, and I will hurt you". ROTFL

Shome said...

@ mads: : ).... yeah... I am a bit of a psycho..