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WhatsApp-ealing, WhatsApp-alling?

By Alka Gurha




So we are driving out of our apartment complex when we see a lady walking in the middle of the road. Since it makes sense to avoid honking in the residential area, we slow down and wait for her to make way for the car. But the lady with head phones is busy smiling at her mobile even as she continues to walk. When we rev up the engine, she gives us an angry urban middle class stare. Then as we drive past, she does a little pantomime with her hands to say something like, ‘Can’t you see idiots? ‘Andhe ho kyaa?’ Or some such polite sort.

Amazing how we dedicatedly engage in an activity called WhatsApp-ing. Almost everyone is gazing at his phone absent mindedly as millions of ingenious bots push the limits of creativity. With more than seventy million users in India, everyone and his nephew are rattling jokes and laughing mercilessly with tears rolling down their eyes. After they have lolled and rolled, they urge you to forward the joke because ‘market mein naya hai.’ The overpowering desire to laugh and to make others laugh convinces me about the inherent goodness of human beings.

whatsapp-ealing-whatsapp-allingBeing tech challenged, I woke up late to this technological wonder. Repeated ‘Why don’t you come on WhatsApp’ nudged me to buy a new phone after being sidelined by friends who used this app to plan ‘meetups’. Little did I know that WhatsApp will bring me closer to relatives I had never met. Or have no desire to meet. Those who never said hello in person, wish me ‘good morning’ at five in the morning. The good person that I am, I reciprocate by forwarding the longest possible lame joke around bed time. Even the following message is enough to wreck a good night.

Moreover, I wasn’t good with religious issues but I now wish all my friends a happy ‘Guruwar’ by sharing divine pictures of ‘gurus’. I am so ‘sanskari’ that even if Baba Ramdev winks on my phone one fine morning, I will share his picture among all my groups. What began as a party planner tool has made me so devout that much before I debate breakfast choices, I forward holy messages lest some unforeseen tragedy befalls.

whatsapp-ealing-whatsapp-allingFor someone who was historically challenged, unaware of different kinds of ‘New Year’, this miraculous app enables me to wish Chinese, Islamic, Thai and Hindi New Year. What’s more, being poetically challenged, WhatsApp has also infused the spirit of ‘killer’ shayari in my staid atma. Apart from above mentioned challenges, I also face visual challenges. So when I post a ‘thumbs-up’ in response to the loss of an Indian wicket, know that I am not a traitor. I was either groggy or without my reading glasses. Worst, I wasn’t aware of an icon for ‘shit’. As recently as last month, perhaps in my slumber, I posted the dirty icon in response to a picture of my cousin’s fiance. Needless to say I wasn’t invited for the engagement party.

So what’s my quibble? None. Except, I wish there was a way to restrict messages longer than twenty words. I also wish there was a way to exit the group without anyone knowing about it. Of course, I have the choice to mute but sometimes important messages get lost in the clutter.