I remember it was the December of 2009 when I created my first email address in Gmail in a small nondescript café housed in a ground floor flat in a mostly residential area of an equally small town in North Bengal (which has just 2/3 trains passing through it in the entire day even now). Just 15 computers in a cramped up small room. Going by the young crowd moving in and out of the room, it could have been easily mistaken for a tuition class. The resemblance was too strong. School/College junta with bags drooping over their shoulder – heavy from the books which were supposed to be opened, the occasional banter and the jittery feeling whenever the exam results were out. The café didn’t have a name. The Place was anything but a place for studying. It was place for Counter Strike 1.6, FIFA08 and Need For Speed junkies and for some other stories which would deviate me from my own story.
In the 2009 era, Google didn’t require one to have a mobile number. When the familiar Gmail page opened up with the bright red-band-around-the-envelope logo, I was almost jumping on my seat. I went there alone, no one knew of my adventure. Finally! I would have my own place in the Internet. But the real pain was the part of actually selecting an email id. email@example.com – taken, firstname.lastname@example.org – taken, email@example.com – taken, firstname.lastname@example.org – taken. With every rejection, I grew more and more gloomy. Why was Google so mean? Why couldn’t it give me what I wanted? Who would be the other Soham Banerjee to have taken the email address? Sadly, for a 12-year-old, such questions didn’t have any answers. After another 30 minutes of permutation and combination (before I even knew what it was) with my name and the words I liked, I finally had an email! My own place in the internet! What followed was a furious and fervent spree of creating my account on Orkut and Facebook – the two sites which I had read about in the papers and from my friends who were busy increasing the number of ‘scraps’ on their profiles. 1 hour was all it took.
And it destroyed my inbox.
Years of neglect, creating numerous other accounts destroyed the purity of mailbox. Spams here and there. And I never bothered to unsubscribe. It was a seemingly unlimited place, right? Why should I delete my mails? In school I had learnt about the advantages of this medium over the traditional so why shouldn’t I make full use of it?
It took me 7 years to see eye to eye on what I had done. College changes you. I tell you people, cleaning around 2000 messages and unsubscribing from dozens of sites is not an easy task at all. I can now see where our education system lacks. We are taught to write letters both informal and formal and graded on the same but never how to write emails. In this age, when almost everything is being done through this medium – the Indian education system royally screws up big time. In school, it was revolting to me that someone would grade and mark on my informal letters to friends, someone would try to justify, someone would grade the relationship between two acquaintances.
Even now in college when almost everything from sharing of presentations to notes to assignments are done over emails, people don’t have the basic email etiquette. It appalls me that how can someone send or forward a mail without a Subject or a two-line description? Maybe I am being too critical. My folks over here still do not realize its immense power. My advices fall on deaf ears and I have completely stopped correcting others. Would not like to be thought of as bossy right from now.
I left all other social media sites somewhere in April 2017. I could not bear the pretentious behavior of people over there. The pouts, the profile-picture-meant-to-get-more-upvotes, the smart-ass comments, the quotes posted whose poster never really knows what they meant tired me. So, I left it for one and all. Now I only use it for posting my blog posts and that too without logging in.
Now in this period, I got a few people who actually communicate over emails. No more commenting or expecting a like. Life is personal once again! Just two people exchanging mails with the world oblivious. Gradually my length of emails grew. I started to like writing more and more. Why? Because no one would judge me. No one would comment on my thoughts. The World for once and all is shut off.
When I came back from home after the Diwali break, I brought with me an ink pen and an ink pot. Nothing is as better as this. Whenever one’s finger touches the smooth body of an ink pen, words are tempting to flow. It could be nonsense, something philosophical, some equations, a letter – it doesn’t matter. All we want to do is grab a paper and write something down. With an ink pen, it feels as if words are will flow. With a ball point, it feels as if it takes an effort.
Now, all I want is to write letters. I yearn to go back to the olden days. The last time I wrote and posted it is perhaps 12 or 13 years ago to my maternal grandfather who was nice enough to reply me back in an inland letter with his impeccably neatly drawn curves if cursive writing. People say that I do not call them back or do not maintain contact. Yes, its true. But I am not good at all with talking on phones.
I want to write letters, proper letters but to whom? Who would appreciate that someone takes the time and effort to write? Who would reply me back? Will I be fortunate enough to draft a letter to someone and write in ink? Perhaps no one my fellow non existential reader. Perhaps no one. Until then…