Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect

One was a classmate from college …. A friend….. a sister……. A helpful advisor in my earliest years to find an identity and roots and stability…. Some times the words just aren’t there to describe an equation that seems so immensely valuable. Another was a man I met in rain drenched Lonavala a quarter century ago and developed another kind of chemistry. For some time we lived about 193 Km away for that is the distance between Mumbai and Pune. For some time we stayed in the same city and if I remember correctly, my friend from Mumbai stayed in what can be best called a converted garage. And then we drifted off … but not quite. There was the ubiquitous post card, costing first fifteen paisa and then twenty five paisa that helped us stay in touch.

 

Today’s generation doesn’t know post cards. At least, no one no one I know does. I myself haven’t seen one for at least a decade or more even and don’t even know how much one costs now and what it looks like now. We live in the age of e mails, instant messaging and Skype. And that is all fine. But there is a certain joy in picking up a fifteen paisa postcard and squeezing it dry and pouring your soul into it. I still remember the post card my friend in Mumbai describing his loneliness in the midst of a very successful professional life. It is still in my collection. Also in my collection is another subsequent post card sharing about his coming marriage and that he was marrying some one I knew – my friend and classmate from Pune. If my memory serves me, they too first met in the same event at Lonavala.

 

I still remember the joy when I heard the news and the pang of my own loneliness for I wasn’t married myself then. But I don’t know after all these years, if the joy was for myself or them or both. For it is nothing but sheer bliss when two of your dearest friends get married, knowing that you don’t have to put up appearances or be polite artificially in front of one or the other, because they both know you inside out and can probably penetrate any mask , any façade, any pretence.

 

That friendship and I use that word uneasily because it can never do justice to all that our relationship represents. It is not just a friendship between two people or even a good friend and his spouse – it is indefinably more. The post cards which we often exchanged weekly stopped after about 5 years and if my memory serves me correctly, it was because the postal department increased the price of the post cards to twenty five paisa to our weekly budget of fifteen paisa. At time there was no e mail and post cards as I just said had become costlier. For a while we lost touch, no post cards, and no emails and we were not into phone calls, so no calls. But though we lost touch, in one of those silent miracles that life offers us, the friendship did not evaporate.

 

Today, it is the age of social networking sites. Orkut, Facebook and My Space and so many others. They are all supposed to bring people together. They have their uses. They do bring people together. People who would otherwise have never met get to meet. I have joined a few and sure, have met some people. We don’t exchange post cards there. We count scraps. And it has its zip and zest, I must say. But when I look at some of the profiles and see that they have 50, 100, 200, 300 contacts, I wonder. Can you really have some thing meaningful to say to 300 “contacts”? Are Orkut notes balms that can heal the soul or merely scraps that itch?

 

When we first met, all of us had jet black hair. Today my friend and his wife both have streaks of grey and I have quite a bit too. But they represent a depth of friendship and fellowship that I would not exchange for all the scraps and hits that Orkut might offer in the world. Some times when I read of Shiv Sena or some other group objecting to Orkut or some such site and asked that they be banned, I wonder, I wonder if the Sainiks know what they are spending their energy on.

 

Yes, Orkut is popular today. It generates a lot of traffic. It is a buzz to be on Orkut and collect scraps. But will Orkut last like friendships do? Do edifices built on sand and largely cemented through scraps and hits survive? Or is it that when the storms come and the waves rise, the foundation will give in and collapse? Will Orkut last a generation? will groups that are largely “virtual” really survive? Really? If not, why bother to destroy some thing that is already programmed to self destruct

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