lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

2 mk frndshp

A gossip talks about others, a bore talks about himself- and a brilliant conversationalist talks about you.

Human beings are gregarious by biological and genetic imperative. All right, we are herd animals. We have needed to cooperate and interact and function together anyhow, to start civilisation going. But human beings can be loners by preference or predilection or habit. We might be shy, we may have a stutter, or we may clam up in a group situation, still we all communicate. And these days it is likely that the communication is through mails, text messages and online chat.

As a rule, I am careful in what I say. I try not to hurt anybody's feelings and avoid giving offense. I am more careful when I write; particularly when I am writing letters. When it is to strangers or near strangers, I am especially careful about what I say and how I say it. Whether I write covering letters to documents I send or complaining letters to the Guardian Crossword editor, or when I reply to strangers who write to me, I make a point of being clear, concise, and courteous.

I read blogs. As I read them, I get an image of the blogger and the more I read, the more I seem to know the blogger as a person. But when I write to them either to ask permission to link to them or to post a private comment to them, I always remember that I am a stranger to the blogger, and so I write carefully.

When I got an alert on Google Mail that somebody had added me to his Contacts list and wanted to chat with me, this is what I sent:

Hi, who are you and why do you want to talk to me?

It could be that he is a reader of my blog in which case I'd be glad to chat with him. I love getting feedback and finding out what my readers think of my blog.

And this is what I got in reply:

i am subuidhi(36yrs),really do not even know you. i am sorry i make a fun by adding you.
Anyway i am staying at kolkata and working in sony.
Sorry again,by put you in troble (sic).But i shall be greatful (sic) to get a friend like you!

Good grief, the person misspelt his own name. Why should I bother to reply to such illiterate drivel?

When I get requests from strangers asking to add me as a friend to their Orkut friends' list, I usually send a message asking why. If after some conversation it turns out that we share interests or friends, I am quite happy to add them to my list. But as Priya teased me about it, when they write illiterate, vowel- challenged messages in my scrapbook, I just delete the messages and leave it at that.

When I used to chat online, if I received a private message requesting a chat, I used to try and establish that we had anything to chat about. While I am grateful to have wonderfully articulate and intelligent friends that I met online, I still cringe at the effort that went into sifting.

The majority of requests would start with the standard "asl plz" and that used to irritate me. I'd reply that we should be finding out if we had anything in common to discuss, first. If they were poor in English or if they used more abbreviations than my levels of tolerance could take, I'd excuse myself and sign off.

Some conversations would take off on a point I raised in the chat room and that would give us a topic. Personal details would emerge in the course of the conversation and that was fine by me. I'd been chatting with him for about half an hour before this man brought it up, see how tactfully and humorously he went about it:

[This reproduced chat has been edited to anonymise; all emoticons excluded, too. And yes, I'd grown accustomed to typing lower case all through by then.]

Him: XYZ you'd better tell me something about you or I'll get forced into 'asl plz'
Me: good grief, i shouldn't make you do that gross thing.
Me: i am of age, and as you guessed, female
Me: does location matter?
Him: of what age?
Him: Yes - location matters
Me: for chat it doesn't, surely?
Him: LOL - it might allow me to avoid making tactless comments about particular ethnic groups!
Him: Nothing actually 'matters' for chat, does it?
Me: no, but you can't offend me with tactless remarks about ethnic groups, I live in the huge
melting pot of ethnics called India
Him: An Injun!
Me: ah, i see what you mean.

We already had a measure of each other's English and intellect and this established our levels of tolerance and sense of humour. That is important. We chatted some more, typing away at each other and hitting send before a complete reply came:

Him: ask away
Me: why did you PM me?
Me: i'd just entered the room, i think
Him: we have so much in common?
Him: kismet?
Me: sheesh!
Him: age similarity?
Me: we only found out later
Him: No XYZ I always knew…we were made for each other (are you rich?)
Me: nope, i was hoping you were
Him: I ALWAYS get the poor ones!
Me: story of my life.
Him: Ok Ok - I'll be serious for a moment....
Me: find one interesting guy, and he is after money
Him: I'm basically a serial nomadic chat PM-er. I pick people at random
Me: ok
Him: If they seem to be female ( A GENETIC THING)
Me: got that
Him: and haven't said 'WuzzzzzzuppppwidUdenbro'
Him: and are not looking for a companion to play with Barbie dolls
Him: Other than that…I don't have that many rules

We talked; we kept going off on tangents. I got educated about divorce laws in Australia; he got lessons on our bewildering caste system. We talked about cats, birds, care of piranhas and amateur house repairs. We talked about books we read, about books we were planning to read, the authors we love or hate. We bitched about English class system which they periodically claim is extinct and isn't.

Him: I see. Hey - I can buy an opal mine, of course. If the incentive is there!
Me: but you can always buy me the aussie cricket team
Him: You injuns cheat at cricket!
Me: i'd put them all in chains
Him: Always ball tampering and bribing honest Aussies
Me: hey, you guys have the umpires on your side!
Him: The side of truth and justice? Yes, probably.
Me: hah
Me: you had one honest guy who walked and you are talking about truth and justice?
Him: … and…don't mention chains again - that sort of stuff gets me excited
Me: how about feathers?
Me: in conjunction with chains?
Him: Wasn't that page 47 of the Kama Sutra?
Me: nah
Me: they never used feathers
Me: dead animal parts and all that. unclean stuff
Him: Oh - well my memory is deficient . I think I last caught a glimpse when I was a schoolboy
Me: of feathers?
Him: I even eat dead animal parts!
Me: ouch
Me: you are a savage lot, you westerners
Me: and the ozzies
Him: Of course - otherwise we'd be injuns !
Me: lol
Me: so you have been reading Kama Sutra?
Him: I'm not sure if my Indian neighbour eats dead animals though?
Me: depends on caste, XYZ
Him: Not for a while. But I'm willing to revise with you if you wish?

Basically, we had conversations with topics, however flirtatious they were. The flirting was a secondary thing, being witty more or less, and we were having too much fun to descend to what I've been told is the point of online chatting, a sexual encounter of the cyber kind.

Him: So you are a high caste Brahmin then?
Me: guilty as charged, m'lud
Him: This caste system of yours is very... very... feudal, isn't it
Me: no, not the way it was originally designed.
Me: but i guess it got mucked up
Him: The English are bad enough - in less overt sort of way
Him: But you lot make no bones about it
Him: I'm high caste - you guys are untouchable
Me: they are more class conscious than anybody else in the whole universe
Him: By the way - where do damn furreners come in the order of caste? Are you below the untouchables?
Him: I mean am I below...
Him: Am I below untouchable
Me: look, don't tar us all with the same brush, some of my best friends are untouchable.
Me: like you
Him: Damn cheek
Me: you are out of the equation, anyhow
Him: Of course - the English did have a phrase in India, didn't they? 'A touch of the tar brush'
Me: and men had to be purified for crossing the big waters
Me: a typically brit phrase
Him: Damn Brits
Me: yup,
Me: you can say that again
Him: Still some of us turned out OK

We had some great times chatting, which he called his early morning pep pills and I termed my late-night larks; we could never agree on whose time zone was the real time. This used to lead to discussions on relativity and so on, you get the picture. We'd flirt, but there was content to the conversation. That is the point of chatting, after all; you discuss things.

But chatting online can and does descend to cyber sex or demands for such, which is ludicrous to say the least, and perhaps to a persistent demand for phone numbers or meetings and so on and so forth. And that is basically harassment.

(The mind boggles, though. I am typing, for pity's sake, I am not heaving in passion or panting with desire, and if I tell you I am naked does that become truth just because I typed it? What is the point? How pathetic can you get?)

I was conditioned to type upper cases at the beginning of a sentence, but chatting inured me to the point that I could type i when I should have been typing shift i. It also gave me a perspective about the vowel-challenged people.

When I found myself typing 'brb' and 'gtg,' though, I knew I was a reluctant convert to the convenience of abbreviations. When I started typing things like 'abt' or 'ppl', I realised there is no redemption.

But I still reserve the right to make judgements. Call me a snob, but those judgements do depend on vocabulary and how articulate a person is. I won't chat with horny and illiterate young men who just want to talk sex. I have absolutely no wish to talk raunch or inanities and tell a stranger about my day. If there isn't a topic, there is no discussion, after all.

Maybe I am an old-fashioned prude.



Blogger db said...

@ Lalita:

1. Your blog happens to be among the best ones I've come across, and so without hesitation, I added you onto my blogroll. Now, decency demands that I seek your permission before doing so, but what to do - My social skills suck ! Nevertheless, point (1) of this comment is to inform you of the above stated fact.

2. i am sorry i make a fun by adding you ... What the ??? ... how can someone "make a fun" .. ROFL ...

3. About Orkut ... When they introduced this "Profile views" feature .. I was in for a rude shock .. I found the first four visitors to my profile to be people who've said pretty nasty things to me .. people who wrote me off as incapable and a waste ... and suddenly they seem to show interest in the whereabouts of my life ... Needless to say, I quit orkut, only to be dragged back by a couple of friends .. i had the last word, and quit again ...

4. about the online chat thingy .. i tried it during the summer hols of '03 ... and found that I was wasting too much time on it .. the ratio of imbecilic to polished chatters is simply too overwhelming for me to digest

7:23 pm  
Anonymous priya said...

people who frequent chatrooms are the sort who dont have any other thing to do. expecting to find intelligent conversation there is foolish.
taking anything that's found online seriously is something that, as a rule, i dont do.
@prophet of doom:
you can turn off the profile views features.

8:27 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

:-( You didn't think the hours of chatting we did worth quoting?

i c n cmprhnd wht ur gttng at, though. :-)

9:50 pm  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

figure out 'click on the ads' lol

11:33 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- Firstly, thanks. You know, I did laugh too, after I finished gnashing my teeth. :D Orkut is fine if you are selective and believe me, I am.

Priya- You are right, people who frequent chat rooms are basically people with some free time. I discovered chatting, revelled in it for a while, and now it is more a touch base with buddies once in a week thing.

I do expect intelligent conversation,even in chats, and I did get it. So let's agree to differ.

Rajesh- u r gettng wrkd up abt it? You may not have liked which bits I decided to quote, if I did.

Karthik- Hi. Welcome. You got that? Did you follow the suggestion? :D

Do keep visiting.

1:00 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

All right, you have had your fun, now post something thought-provoking again.

3:00 pm  
Blogger Priya said...

Thanks a lot for linking. And I know exactly what you mean - you know, been there and done that types;) I too decide who I want to chat with and content does matter. Humour and intelligence are what I primarily look for. I don't mind a risque conversation as long as the other person is humorous and mature enough to understand the fruitlessness of all things virtual:P

3:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will you 'mk frndshp' with me if I reveal myself?


Secret admired

7:29 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- Stop nagging. I am on strike anyway.

No muse, no spark of inspiration and a sudden appalling realisation that most of you read me because I post so regularly. So there. Ain't gonna post as frequently no more, Massa.

Priya- You bought the t-shirt, too? :D

But seriously, I concur, risque is fun when one is sure the other person is getting the references and all that. That's why I added the flirty parts.

Anon- Go away. I don't like the idea of posting under the cloak of anonymity. Perhaps I will change my settings.

9:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why? Don't you want to know me better? Doesn't it matter I think you are fabulous? Or that I am smitten by you?


Secret admirer

9:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:45 pm  

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