All my life in India and in the US, I had never required a social networking website to keep me in touch with important people in my life. I am very communicative and typically pick up the phone and call or shoot an email to them. When my friend S introduced me to Orkut in mid 2004 the first time, I simply deleted the email. I also told him that it was such a waste of time and gave him gyan sounding like an octogenarian. But towards end of 2005 I called the same friend and asked him to send me an invite because a lot of my friends were on it and mocking at me for not getting on the wagon as well. Then another person introduced me to Facebook just so she can get her number of friends to a 100 within two hours of signing up. I rarely used that until about 2008-2009.
It wasn't until I started meeting people I had lost touch with since kindergarten that I got interested in this whole social networking. I met classmates who were good friends but since those were the days before e-mail and the internet we could not manage to keep in touch after school when each of us went our way. It was really fun, I met school mates, college mates, and people who were sons or daughters of people my dad had worked with 20+ years ago. It was all so exciting. FB and orkut got my dad in touch with a few of his friends with whom he had lost contact with.
And then the downturn, which started with people asking to "make friendship" with you. Not to forget the classmate whom you hated and never wanted to see again telling you, "Don't you remember me? My name is PIG, and I got the highest score in English in 10th standard." When all I wanted to tell him was, "there was a reason why I never spoke to you in school, 20 years later, it is not going to change." After many "ignores," and "go away's" I am still on both the social networking but I have met almost everyone I would like to meet other than of course the following few:
Payal Sengupta: She was my roomie when I was living as a paying guest in Bangalore (Bengaluru). She was the first and last girl with whom I went to a Wine shop (you can imagine how shady they are in India) to buy us some good ol' King Fisher beer and a pack of cigarettes which she dutifully finished because I could not stand the smell or taste of either. She was the one who made my stay at B'lore fun. She took me out to this cool restaurant the day she got her first paycheck and would sit around and give me Gyan all the time. I was the clean one and she was the dirty one but at that time it never bothered me. She had odd hours at work and I had regular work hours. She would carry home left over booze after banquets in the hotel she worked and we would both finish it off on cold Bengaluru nights. The sad thing is that the two of us had no common friends. We just met and we parted with her house address that I have dutifully lost in the last 12 years. I have tried the web, I have tried even visiting that land lady of mine who has also moved. Apparently me and Payal were her worst tenants because we did not want to tutor her 5th grade daughter. Sorry lady, We had a life! So hopefully she can find me.
Madhu Sawlani and Mamta: Friends who made high school fun. We were a trio, Madhu, Mamta and I, always together. They cherished and ate my south Indian dabba while I greedily dug into their uber-cool north Indian dabbas. In schools in Chennai or South for that matter (in those days at least) your name was always listed like A.T Anu Russell. The initials are never spelt out and you can actually graduate school not knowing your best friends last name ever. Which is why I am not able to trace either of them. I have listed Madhu's last name but I am not 100% sure thats what it is. I know that Madhu got married right after her undergrad and since we did not go to the same college we rarely met after school. And Mamta did the whole trying to elope with some guy but that did not work and then probably she got married too. Both of them were from such conservative families that I thanked my lucky stars every time I went to their house. I could never in my life imagine living their life but they were ok with it, so no problems. But girls, do try to get on the net and look for me. You will find me easily, I promise!
I guess that's all. I might update this list in the future but for now, this is it. I just recently met my first ever best friend via orkut and the net. I did not know her last name so my search was always futile but for her it was easy (you cannot find two Anu Russell's in this planet, I can bet you!) and yet it took her over 20 years to find me! So once I establish contact with above mentioned three friends I shall retire from all social networking websites for good. I do realize that I use FB and Orkut to mainly keep in touch with the people who are not actively involved in my life, for the rest, I just call :)