Continued from Part 1.
Finally after months of failure and coughing up a few lakhs to a shady fly-by-night company, he got some papers doctored and applied for a visa in the land of opportunities. The officer behind the counter heard his sob story and stamped his entry into the world of lap dances, casinos and bikini bars! Like all other so-called software developers, even Ramesh was armed with an inflated resume that boasted of 5+ years work-ex and every possible tool/language heard in the compuniverse with even some undiscovered ones like java++ and SQL#. All this for a guy with a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering whose only access to a computer is yahoo messenger and you-know-what! There was a time when sweatshops were booming and becoming a Sr.Database Administrator was easier than ordering pizza even if you zonked out when asked to total the columns in a spreadsheet. The recession however saw CS grads with real 5+yrs work-ex slug it hard for entry-level positions and that put thousands like Ramesh and his employers out of work. This meant no more lap dances, beer at stud parties and undressing waitresses at bikini bars with their eyes.
All this and a lot more was however going to change with one simple friend request. For many who’ve ridiculed the power of social networks, this might come like a slap on the face. Shruthi like many in her batch was a simple middle class girl armed with a graduate degree. The ITES boom had ensured steady income as a tech support executive. Big bucks and new found freedom away from home ensured a lot of female bonding and interaction with boys for the first time ever. Having being protected all throughout childhood and kept away from everything remotely male these girls were like a school of starving piranhas! Convent education, all girls college and playing indoors all the while ensured that boys were something they’d read about in their girly novels and in cinemas only! Shruthi and her friends were not quite piranhas but they eagerly looked forward to the cab rides, team outings and flirting across the tables at the cafeteria. They were also relatively new to the world of social networks and pretty excited at the thought of hopefully meeting someone special online. The amateurism of the situation is pretty evident from the fact that our protagonists are heavily attached to orkut and yahoo accounts. This may seem weird to readers unacquainted with social media, but then you probably won’t be reading this either, so let’s get on with it.
Shruthi worked in the graveyard shift like most new comers, for day shifts are given to mothers and people with family constraints. This however was a boon as it gave her a full 8hrs to ‘scrap-chat‘ with her new friend. Scrap-chatting is a term used when two individuals exchange a deluge of messages on a public message board like in this case orkut which make no sense to anyone whatsoever baring the persons involved. Having received flak from their friends for the public display of their messages, Ramesh and Shruthi graduated to instant messaging with the hajaar yahoo emoticons assisting them. They soon discovered that they had a lot in common, like her choice of blue over pink, his undying love for Kareena Kapoor, her fetish for samosa chat and his preference of Hyderabad over Bangalore. He’d wake up early each day and get ready to chat by 8AM for that would be when her shift in India would begin. They’d even take bathroom breaks together to minimize the waiting for the other person. Ramesh wouldn’t step out of the house even if there was a forest fire or any natural calamity until Shruthi got of her shift and Shruthi in turn would turn up everyday at work lest miss a chance to spend time with her beau. With things moving at a fast pace, the two began discussing almost everything under the sun right from gujrati thalis to chikan-work in salwars. When one tends to spend as much time with each other like the two did, you run out of topics to discuss.
Ramesh’s stud-gang friends never let go the slightest opportunity to pull his leg for after all he was the first among the herd to have anything going on with a female. Despite astronomical levels of jealousy within, his friends managed to conceal it with their titter. One of them even vowed to go on apilgrimage to the holy trinity of temples (Aurora Temple near Chicago, Pittsburgh Temple and the Shiva Vishnu Temple of Maryland) if he landed with a ‘sundar and susheel‘ lass. Ramesh and Shruthi were in their own world though and one fine day he popped the question and asked for her phone number. What was restricted to the yahoo servers was now borne by the telecom networks. While yahoo heaved a sigh of relief for the drastic reduction in bandwith, RelianceIndiaCall announced bonuses for its employees owing to the surge in calling card recharges. Everyday began with a wake up call from foreign shores and ended with sweet nothings from the same number. Low cash days or delays in recharge were helped by the language of missed calls. Two rings meant good morning while four signaled a good night hug, cheesier than a three-cheese pizza you may think. Having heard Shruthi’s calm and cheerful voice ended the last shard of doubt in Ramesh’s mind of it being a prank, for no guy would go that far with a prank. While the incessant chatter and giggling at night might have caused concerns with roomates on either side, the relationship blossomed and they finally decided to meet as Ramesh was planning to visit home for a couple of weeks.
Continued in Part 3……
PS: Few readers may seem unable to come to terms with some references like calling cards and desi temples in the US.
PPS: I know it doesn’t live up to the hype of part 1, will conclude in the next part promise.
(Image Courtesy: Studio Neko)