27 June 2005
When I was young, but not as young as you'd think, and the Internet with a capital 'I' had come to India, my friend Deepti and I would spend long hours in chatrooms like Mirc and ICQ and Geocities and (mostly) go to the rooms marked #Delhi or #India. ICQ was something we loved, I used to remember my ICQ serial number by heart, strange, and I can't even remember my user name now.
The first time I encountered a "chat room" was at a friend's place and he was one of the first to get the internet, sorry, Internet and he said, "Hey, have you ever tried chatting?" and we (another friend and I) said, "No" and "What's chatting?" So he signed us into a chat room and said, "Now people will talk to you." But no one did and we looked at him, exasperated. "Wait," he said and typed anyone want to chat with two 14/f? We are hot! We are horny! Okay, I totally didn't know what horny meant at the time, at least, I didn't know what the connotations were if I typed in "I am horny" into a chat room, but it seemed to work, because everyone started to chat with us. Good fun.
Anyway, so by the time Deepti and I used our Mirc and ICQ, the Internet had grown up a little, most people said the net now, all cool and all and we were a little more sophisticated. Okay, so sometimes we pretended to be hot swimsuit models, but mostly we stuck with the truth. We both had a string of Internet boyfriends for a while, Jared from the US Navy, who "couldn't communicate with anyone in India after he signed on" thus ending a beautiful romance. And there was Rick from Melbourne, who was 25 and called me and had a great accent. (Speaking of accents, I once emailed Jared saying, "Yeah, great talking to you and you have a nice accent" and he wrote back going, "I don't have an accent! I'm American!" Heh.) But soon Deepti started to talk to more and more boys from Delhi and obviously they wanted to meet her.
By this time, I had outgrown my passion for internet romances. They were proving too fickle, I had so much else to do etc, but it seemed like Deepti was just getting started. Pretty soon she was meeting boys in M-Block Market all the time (McDonalds had just opened there and it was a popular, 'cool' hangout) and I was the unwilling chaperone. Also because I looked so much younger than her, boys automatically ignored me, or treated me as the sidekick, which I was getting a little tired of. There were two boys we met, I remember, best friends, 19, I think, to our 15 and very, very cool. They smoked and all. They bought us Coke (as in Coca-Cola, not cocaine), they dropped us in their beaten up Maruti 800. But I was reluctant, hanging back, because, hello, we had met them on the internet and god knows what was wrong with them. Deepti couldn't see this point though, or she chose not to, I'll never know which. She was always way more excited than I was. I was a skeptic, looking out for potential rapists, she was enthusiastic and full of raptures. Maybe it had to do with the fact that she was in an all-girls school, whereas boys were really not that big a deal for me. I mean, I had grown up with them, and they seemed, well, okay. Classmates, perhaps. People you shared lunch with. People who smelt after Games. The only people who seemed surprised to see you dressed up at dance parties and who huddled in a corner skidding their too-new sneakers.
Then Deepti met FerrariBoy and our lives changed. Hers and mine. Hers because FerrariBoy became what she had never had--a guy best friend. And mine because I developed a violent crush on him. And yeah, though FerrariBoy flirted with me, eventually he and Deepti wound up together. Dating for about oh, five or six years.
And we outgrew Internet Friends and laughed about that stage in our lives. And, now, in an age where you can never be too sure about anyone, I'm beginning to discover Internet Friends again. I have friends who I have known for years and other friends who I meet through work etc, but I also have some Net Buddies, who by virtue of the fact that we read each other's blogs say, or something, I feel close to, too.
I was thinking about that today, watching Friends Season 10 which he sent me (thanks!) and wondering how my perspective has changed. From 14/f and horny to I love you overseas even to... this. Companionship from people you've never met.
I heart the internet!