It is the latest ‘internet love’, if I may call it so. They met in cyber space, flirted, fell in love, were inseparable, and finally decided to marry. That was the day they met. In person!

I pinch myself every time I think about this. It is my family’s reality. But, I forget. Isn’t digital time, ‘real time’ these days? So, I shouldn’t be shocked or surprised. Yet, I am.

When, I teased the boy over excessive Skype time he spent with his girlfriend, he had just one answer. “Why are you jealous?” he replied. “Not my fault that Skype wasn’t invented in the 1980’s.” He followed this up with a million-dollar smile.

Of course, what could I say? Actually, I was hurt. Yes. I wished that people were smarter back in the 80s and came up with internet telephony.

When, I look back at the 80s (which, to be honest, is not really a long time ago), I have to accept, even phones in my neighbourhood of South India were a rarity. Laptops? I had never seen one. Computers? Well, they were around, but I could not touch them.

In fact, they were these strange alien boxes that were put in airconditioned rooms. Their surroundings were clean and dust-free. “The computer has to be clean and virus-free”, we were told.

For a long time, I believed that the computer could catch a flu-virus like people!

Over the next few years, (I am still talking of the late 80s and early 90s which is only 20 years ago) computers became accessible to common humans in my hometown.

Novel experience

I could actually touch the keyboard and feel the smooth surface of the mouse. But, computers were still such massive boxes that it required an entire army of people to move them.

These memories certainly didn’t help the situation. I had missed out on the fun and that is the reality.

The boy was still smiling. I hated it even more. I couldn’t video conference with my boyfriend — who is now my husband — back then. Forget video talk, I couldn’t even speak to him on phone. I couldn’t send cosy SMS(es), or use those overused emoticons.

Technology has a strange way of showing you your birth calendar and makes you feel older than you actually are. I felt I was nearing 70. These felt very alien to me.

“Yes,” I told the boy, “I didn’t video chat. I didn’t SMS. I didn’t meet my husband on the internet. I wonder what it is to Skype and fall in love over the net,” I sighed.

After sulking for many minutes, I wondered what it would have been to Skype. But, you see, I didn’t have to Skype then at all because, I could actually ‘see’ him in real! I had face-to-face conversations and not have to write my three-word sweet somethings on the Facebook ‘wall’ (even though Facebook didn’t exist then). I could ‘hold’ hands and not ‘poke’ people in cyber space. I could say what I wanted and not worry about people ‘peeking’ at my conversations. Most importantly, I could smell and feel the emotions ‘live’. I didn’t have to feel the pulse of the relationship ‘digitally’.

Technology also has a way of confusing you because I had actually felt a bit betrayed by Skype. When I look back now, I don’t think I would have had it any other way because Skype may be the new reality.

I guess I am fine and happy to be a bit ‘old fashioned’. As for my jealousy, well, maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but the new dog will never know the pleasure of indulging in good old tricks.


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