Life is so like an old b/w movie without my friends. Well, you’d generally ask: ‘What’s wrong with old movies?’ And I’d have no alternative but to answer: ‘Life is so like any movie on a small junked b/w television without my friends! So if this is fine, will you now let me get on with my little chat on all that I miss?’
‘Chat?’ asked Specky with a smile, ‘I thought you were in a mood for one of your great thoughtful monologues today.’ Wives, you see are ever so perceptive… they somehow tear through your veneer, however intelligently done, and get to the bottom of any truth quite easily. And wives are never the silent sort. They let you have it… loud and clear, with a smile!
I said, ‘I was thinking aloud. But then the chat I’m talking about is no ordinary chat with the usual people. This is one chat that I wish happened again.’
Specky pulled a stool, and sat facing me like a psychiatrist does in movies, and asked slowly and clearly, ‘Which chat?’
‘We chat? Of course we chat. We chat a lot,’ she said.
I found it easier to pick up my Galaxy S4 and show her that I meant the WeChat app that was on my smartphone. I added, ‘The chat that I am referring to was no ordinary chat. I was together with her for the first time…’
‘With whom?’ Specky cut me short.
‘With Gloria,’ I said, and then hurriedly added, ‘Gloria the Hippo. Remember Madagascar, the movie?’ She pulled the stool closer to me and now peered at me with suspicion. She however just asked, ‘Who are the remaining four?’
Well, one of them was Arvind Kejriwal,’ I said.
‘You just interviewed him, remember?’ she said, and added, ‘and it’s good if you’re already on chatting terms with him so soon!’
I wasn’t sure about that, but I went on with the other names, ‘One of them was Maximus… the gladiator.’ I paused to see if she wanted to pull the stool still closer, and then blurted out the other names, ‘Aladin, the one who has a magic lamp and the last one wasn’t very participative, but he was there. Pappu, you know the character who finally passed his exams and distributed chocolates to everyone in college?’
‘I think we must stop attending these blogger meets where they serve wine and beer,’ she said, but after a pause, continued, ‘So what sort of wonderful chat did you have with these fellows from the imaginary world? Did you guys talk about fiction or the real fiction of life?’
I could see she was interested now, and I told her that I just happened to stumble onto them all on WeChat. I hurried to correct myself, ‘I actually wished I could chat with them all together. Well, they all love India and had some great messages for us all.’
‘So how did you manage to stumble upon these wonderful characters?’ she asked gently and coaxingly.
‘Easy. I looked around, used shake, and threw in the drift bottle. It was interesting to find Aladin emerging when I used shake. He just appeared magically and smiled,’ I was now excited, and went on, ‘And then I threw in the drift bottle a couple of times and was surprised to find both Maximus and Gloria come out dripping!’
‘I don’t believe a word of this,’ said Specky.
I told her some relevant facts about finding friends or making friends on WeChat. ‘You can select Look Around under the Social tab to see who are nearby, and send your greetings by simply one click…. or you can throw a bottle into the sea with a text message or voice message. Someone from anywhere will pick it! The process is anonymous for both until you decide to be friends with the owner of the drift bottle,’ I said, paused, and then went on, ‘You can also shake your phone and see who are also shaking at the moment locally and around the world. A mere shake makes people who are online, appear!’
I was silent for a while and then told her that when you wish hard, you meet the right people. I had wished hard to meet these five together and I did… on WeChat. The reason is simple enough. I want to meet Maximus because of his strength of conviction, Aladin as he was street-smart kid and knew at an early age what he wanted from life, Gloria for her warm-hearted promotion of team-work and humility, Pappu because he is one person who even while being a part of the fictional ad-world has a great resemblance to so many of us, and Kejriwal for his ability to convert everything complex into it’s simplest denominator. These characters, if they come together, would surely initiate an alchemy that would transform thought into applicable thought, and an idea into a usable one! Just like WeChat is… something applicable and so usable!!
She laughed, ‘Quite a strange group you must have made. What did you talk about? I mean did Gloria really have to say anything about contemporary India?’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘and strangely it was Pappu who initiated this part of the discussion.’ I then read out the part of this chat…
Pappu: I was so happy that day, friends. I had passed. That was when I discovered that our stock of chocolates had been eaten by the crew who was shooting my ad film.’
Gloria: Oh! My dear dear Pappu… that must have been so devastating for you. Marty used to do this so often when we were in New York… and Alex was always sore about it.’
Pappu: Marty ate chocolates? Dark chocolates?
Maximus: No, Pappu… I’ve seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark, Rome is the light.
Gloria: Shut up Maximus… you’re always taking about Rome. Pappu here is talking about Delhi. His shop in a college in Delhi… and how the film crew ate every bit. You really must let me hug you Pappu… when we meet.
Pappu: Well, Delhi isn’t dark but the traffic is cruel and brutal for sure.
Maximus: There now, do you see the truth in what I say, Gloria?
Gloria: Ah! Traffic is always a serious issue. I remember once Mel got literally gelled by the unstoppable NY traffic. The cabbies there don’t even honk. They are simply eager to run over you.
Pappu: Delhi traffic also has a lot of road rage.
Gloria: Don’t worry, tell the Delhi-walas to dip their heads in a tub filled with ice and remain cool for hours. I do it in my zoo. This works anywhere… in any zoo.
I looked up at Specky and said, ‘This was a part of the Wechat conversation we had… I was silently reading all that Gloria was saying and I loved her solution for Delhi!’
‘I’m curious to know what Arvind Kejriwal had to say to these characters that exist in our imagination only,’ asked Specky.
‘Ah! He had a lot to say to them,’ I replied, ‘In fact, Kejriwal also shared a video of his where he talked about the importance of getting together.’
‘Read out that part, please,’ said Specky.
A hot discussion was literally raging on WeChat that fine afternoon… and all six of us had something or the other to say.
Me: Apps like Wechat make a lot of sense. They make the boundaries just go away, don’t they?
Maximus: We’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together we survive. This is what I told the other gladiators and we all lived to see another day.
Arvind Kejriwal: You are right. I’m sharing this video. Please hear what I have said… carefully… and you will know how important it is to remain one.
<The video is shared on Wechat… and it is so easy to share videos, audio files, and pictures here. You can even use emoticons to make sure that others get the emotional angle of what you are trying to say!>
Gloria: Yes, every time we start going in different directions, I have discovered that we have suffered. Mel, the giraffe knows it too well… so does Marty, the zebra…
Pappu: I have seen all the splits happen to student unions all these years… our shop is right inside a college and I hear the leaders come and downgrade each other. The moment they do that, I know instinctively that they are going to split once again.
Arvind Kehriwal: I always say that the people are sovereign in a democracy… people are supreme… no one can hand over power to the people. People can snatch away the power from these people (read politicians). It is we the people of India who drafted this constitution… it is we the people of India who built this parliament… it is we the people of India who gave power to these politicians… who are they to give that power back to us?
Me: I’m getting a little dizzy now… too much of activism is hitting me hard…
Aladin: Don’t get affected by this, my friend. I’ll rub my lamp and ask the genie to fly to you to help you think clearly. But then I just realised that if I talk to you on WeChat I can help you faster!
Maximus: Rightly said. You think like a worthy commander, Aladin. I know one day you will command an army, like I did. Like the time I fought with Marcus Aurelius… and told him that five thousand of my men are out there in the freezing mud. Three thousand of them are bloodied and cleaved. Two thousand will never leave this place. I will not believe they fought and died for nothing.
Arvind Kejriwal: This is exactly what I am trying to say. We must not die for nothing. We need to pool our strengths and fight as one.
Gloria: Yes… we did that in the NY City zoo… in Madagascar… and in Africa… and also when we travelled all over Europe! We pooled in our strengths and won. But more important was that we talked to each other often and never let suspicions break us.
Me: This makes a lot of sense now… and I believe togetherness is now helped by technology.
Pappu: Wow! I really must thank my father for gifting me this smartphone… for it is only because of this that I am able to use WeChat and see what is happening in the unreal worlds outside the truth of an ad-film!
Maximus: Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled.
Gloria: I’ve started loving you Maximus… you seem to remember all your lines from your movie! I forget them so often. I remember how I stuttered when I was with Moto…
Aladin: I insist that WeChat is better than even my Genie… I just asked him and he said it will take him a few light years to reach the mortal world to help my friend there… but then I am able to understand, converse, and offer solutions with an immediacy that is so impressive!
‘Wasn’t this section of our WeChat conversation really charming and so informative?’ I asked Specky. She was busy taking notes. Notes? I thought there was hardly any need for notes, but then wives do have intuitively strong ideas sometimes, so I asked, ‘You’re noting something?’
She looked up and said, ‘Yes. I am writing a memo to myself to remind me to get on WeChat as soon as you have taught me all I want to know.
So I told her that was simple because I had already created a short video and uploaded it on YouTube. ‘This video,’ I told her, ‘has a few really important pointers to what you’ll need if you’re ever going to use WeChat effectively.’
Once this video was seen by her, I waited for more questions… and they came as I expected.
‘I don’t know so many people… and I wouldn’t know what to talk about,’ she asked with a bit of hesitation.
I said, ‘What do you think we were talking about? I mean, I was in conversation with a Hippo from a toon-movie, a gladiator from a historical flick, an ephemeral concept character from an ad-film, a fictional child-hero from a story, and an activist… and we all got down to discussing problems and issues and soon discovered that they were the same in all worlds!’ I stopped as I was not accustomed to such long speeches, and waited for Specky to respond.
She thought for a while and said, ‘Any more interesting bits from your WeChat conversation?’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I just remembered a small discussion we had on romance and love. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting because it also shows that these conversations with strangers are not necessarily centred on social and political issues.’
Gloria: Guys… guys… stop all this worrisome talk on how to improve the world. I think we need to get into love now.
Maximus: I was so in love with Lucilla once… and you were in love with Jasmine, weren’t you, Aladin?
Aladin: Yasmin. She helped me distract Jafar by seducing him and pretending to fall madly in love with him. That was when I stole the magic lamp back…
Gloria: Guys, I’m just dying to share my audio clip with one fat Hippo Moto who I was in love with once… but then I realised that Mel was a much better choice!
Arvind Kejriwal: Lovely to hear soft words… they are such a rarity in the sort of life I lead. But I must really congratulate you for transcending the boundaries of specie-dom and deciding to go and live with a giraffe!
Pappu: Yes, that is so inspiring. The student leaders keep talking of the Khap Panchayats of Haryana asking their children not to marry outside the caste. It is so stifling!
Me: Yes, it is. Love knows no boundaries.
Gloria: And WeChat also transcends boundaries and connects people… and animals… and…
Pappu: …and characters from ad-films!
Maximus: And before I get back into a closed corner of a book or a film, let me just rush and do one last job. I have only one more life to take. Then it is done.
Gloria: Phew! This man never tires…
Specky was all dreamy-eyed by now and before she could get into some long-winding discussion on the merits and demerits of falling in love, I asked, ‘Are you ready to install WeChat now? Should I help?’
She said, ‘No. Let me do it myself. It isn’t difficult. And the best part is that it is free. You just be ready now for long WeChats with me.’
‘But you’re so near,’ I protested.
She smiled and said, ‘It brings us closer!’
Later, I wrote a few lines in rhyme that are dedicated to that strangely enigmatic conversation on WeChat:
All conversations tend to have
A bit of this, a bit of that
But when all bits converge to be
One mighty force, it needs a pat!
A pat because the past has come
To guide, manoeuvre us to see
The truth, that sometimes, in disguise
Will want to act, but needs a fee!
The fee is nothing but some words
When fiction mates with what exists
And what their coupling gets for us
Is what comforts us and what fits!
So let the chats go on and on
Let here and there sit on one mat
And then you’ll see that time shall smile
And say, ‘I chat, you chat, WeChat!’
15 June 2013
This post WON a prize (Galaxy S4) in the Indiblogger-WeChat blogging contest. Results here.
The winner’s badge that I am now entitled to: