A while back, I had wished a certain friend of mine a happy birthday. Now both of us aren't really the thickest of pals and we don't stay in touch all the time but I did remember her birthday. Yes, she was surprised but surprised more because I wished her and not because I remembered the day. It has apparently been taken for granted that reminders on personal gadgets, social networking web sites and some such have taken up the responsibility to remember for us leaving little room for surprises and the romance in it!
Just for the record, I didn't need my cell phone or the damned Orkut/Facebook/Hi5 (I'm very jobless to have my profile on almost every networking site there is!
It works the other way too! A certain somebody missed wishing me on my birthday. Not that it was such a big deal but in one of our conversations, it did come up. I was apologised profusely to. "Dude! It didn't appear on my Orkut homepage man!", I was told!
The point is where has the romance of being remembered on a birthday disappeared? In the much boring times when Facebook and Orkut still weren't the order of the day and you could still be cool if you didn't have an email id, I remember the thrill of going up and wishing someone on his/her birthday when he/she never expected you cared! I remember the looks on those faces when they were wished!
Times are much more convenient now. Times are much more skeptical now! Bob Dylan wrote and then sang how times are changing! I lived through the changes. I saw them. I felt them. I celebrated the changes. I woed them all!
"Daddy, get cooler", you'd tell me! Hmmmm....
I've known times when telephones in a household were a luxury and my father couldn't afford it. I remember the first time my elder brother and I watched in awe at that ugly huge black telephone while I actually mistook the dial tone for something that has gone wrong with the phone. Now I have an almost swanky mobile handset (a friend's sister once commented in derogatory Hindi how the Nokia N-series is passe) and calling anyone, anywhere, anytime is at my beck and call and as anyone would know, isn't criminally expensive either!
Then there were letters! How I'd wait eagerly to read letters from near and dear ones everytime I moved to a new city or another acquaintance did the same. How I'd spend hours replying! I still have most of my received letters saved intact.
In the late 90s I was introduced to the concept of electronic mail and letters were much rudely begun to be referred as "snail mail"! A corny email id and a few more and the graduation was over! Suddenly a weekly trip to the cyber cafe used to be the most exciting thing!
Then came the instant messaging system! Loved and most of the times "unloved" ones were no more miles apart. "Chat" appointments were made and excitedly met till the time all the "Heya" turned to "Oh Hi! You're online? Sup?"
Things got even more exciting and further boring as a few years down the line, "Scrapping", "Posting" and the likes were introduced! "Friends" from your most remote and sometimes deliberately forgotten past suddenly were "found" again. Such thrill! E-mail inboxes were now reduced to a space to just store weird "forwards" and formal/official notifications!
As and how we all got closer, we moved further apart.
My friend from class 4, Vandita Singhvi was thrilled when we found each other after almost a decade and a half. A couple of "scraps" later Vandita is just another profile on my friend list! My childhood friend and almost family, Pompi-di made it a point that she wrote at least 3 letters (and really long ones) every month and I would reply back with equal vigour! I do not remember the last time we wrote to each other. An instant message online, a text message or a call is still a far cry!
Time has always been cruel to romance but I'm proud to have been part of all these phases and I'm proud to be a hopeless romantic!
It's my good friend Dhruv Shah's (or Dudybhai as I called him back in school) birthday today. I hadn't wished him on April 5 for a while now but this time I shot off a text message and added this tiny bit to feel better...."I didn't need a web site to remind me this Dudy. Always remembered your birthday!"
All things bright and Biprorshee