Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Check-in' the mail?

July 1998

So I’m sitting in the canteen writing a letter (yes, you read that right!) when a second year guy approaches me.

"Hi Sayesha, what on earth are you doing?" He grinned.

"Bharatnatyam." I wanted to say, but smartass freshies really get it (and I’d had enough and enough of being ragged), so I decided against it.

"I'm writing a letter." I said.

"You're writing a letter?"

"Yeah."

"To whom?"

"Santa Claus." I went in my head, then changed my mind again.

"Mom and Dad."

"You're writing a letter to your Mom and Dad?" He was extremely amused.

"She's writing a letter to her Mom and Dad!" he hollered to two of his batchmates who also decided to join in and examine “the specimen who wrote letters to people”.

"Why don't you email them?"

"They don't have email."

They looked at each other.

"Besides, letters have their own charm." I added.

"Letters have their own charm... wah wah!" they guffawed.

"You know what, Sayesha? I bet you'll stop writing letters by the time you make it to second year."

"I'll NEVER." I said indignantly.

("Never stop writing" I meant, not "never make it to second year".)

"I will prove you wrong, dude!" I made a resolution.

Erm, I stopped writing letters by the end of the first semester.

My excuse? Everyone did. Dad had got email, it was faster and hassle-free, and I could do it in the middle of a boring class. I emailed him every day. Then every week, then every month. I believe I’m still at every month.

Back in the days of letters, we checked our mailboxes once in a few days. The world then moved online and there were fewer reasons to check our mailboxes. Mailboxes became almost useless, in other words - spam central. And we got crazily emailing. In the beginning, it was fun. Emails were long and descriptive and delightful. Over the years, they started getting shorter and shorter. We actually preferred them that way. Then people we know stopped emailing us, and people who did not know us started instead. People who were trying to sell you online university degrees, or drugs to enhance body parts your gender doesn't have in the first place, or promises to transfer gazillions of dollars to your account on no account, or pleas for help from 8-year-old Ethiopian orphans who never grew a day since the early nineties when they first started emailing us. Sometimes we ‘paid it forward’ by sending them to people we dislike.

We hated these emails because they were not sent to us - they were not personalised. They were stupid forwards meant for the whole damn world and sent to the whole damn world. We deleted it all. Then came gmail and the spam disappeared. So for all those jobless blokes who checked email just to delete spam and hence “have something to do”, gmail was of no use.

But we continue checking. I am not even sure why we do it. I highly doubt that it’s in the hope that someone some day will write us a nice long email meant only for us. If that was the case, why do we look at the personalised emails that bhoole bhatke come to us and go, “Shit! Do I have to reply to this?” We read it and put it aside because we don't know what to reply, even though it was probably why we kept checking our email. And even if we reply, and we get a reply to our reply, and after that, there is not much to say anymore. But isn’t that why we were checking our email in the first place – to receive something meant for us? Didn't we delete like everything else??

Yesterday I made a resolution, to make better use of email. To email properly and reply properly, and perhaps devote an hour or so every weekend to what Rachel (F.R.I.E.N.D.S) calls "catching up on correspondence". Enough is enough. I can't keep checking my email when I don't expect to send any out - it's downright ridiculous!

Strange… We want to be remembered, but we don't remember.

But we keep checking our email. Day in day out. At home, at work, during the weekdays, during the weekends. From our PCs, from our laptops, from our phones. We keep checking. Several email accounts. Several times a day. Like maniacs.

Sometimes I wonder - what the heck are we checking for?

.



25 comments:

anand said...

i m the first one to comment :- ))
is this a sequel to "slippin thru. the cracks"
ur every post has something tht one can relate too....it makes one pause for a moment n think tht this is the same thing i do/or going thru.

gr8 post as always.

Sanchit said...

missed the gold this time...
anyways ar always a pleasure to read

Raj said...

Hmm, I think I am getting a medal! Surprising! :D

Ya, I do exactly what you've written. Give me some time to think. I'll let you know once I figure out what I'm checking for ;)

PizzaDude said...

Tell me about it!! At one point in time, I used to feel so left out if I didnt get a single e-mail a day (even forwards would do). This was till I realized how pathetic I had become.

On a much better level now B-)

mythalez said...

hmm .. try writing a letter to someone now .. yeah the postal kind.
I did such a thing recently and the recipient was delighted and swore to be indebted to me eternally for such a good deed :D.

Along with the emails, wat abt the incessant checking for scraps, wall-posts, comments on blog and the like??

Harshi said...

haha... you are right...i keep checking my mail too, i don't know why. just-in-case, koi bhula bhatka, mujhe yaad kar le, chalo galti se hee sahi :-)). gosh, we are some hopefuls! :-))coincidentally, mujhe kuch tumhe batana tha and i was thinking of emailing you since the last few days :-). will do so soon. those letter writing days...wow. i have actually been thinking of reviving that. that too, using an ink pen :-).

Stone said...

Pure addiction I say!!!

Sayesha said...

#Anand,
*hands Anand his gold medal, shakes his hand and holds the pose for the photographers... wait a min, there are no photographers! Sheesh!*

Yeah, after I'd written it, I figured it could serve as a sequel to that post. :) Thanks for the kind words! :)

#Sanchit,
You get the silver, but the damned photographers have gone missing! :/ Hehe! :P Thanks for dropping by! :)

#Raj,
Hehehe... bronze baby bronze! :P
Okay, once you figure out, come back and tell me! :D

#Pizzadude,
Hehehehe! Yeah, I'm much better now, but I still check my gmail like three times a day! :O :O :O And weekends par toh window khula hi rehta hai! :/

#Mythalez,
You know, I actually thought of that! Maybe I should do that - it's a good way to freak people out! "Isko kya ho gaya, letter likhne lagi hai!" :O Hahaha! :D

//Along with the emails, wat abt the incessant checking for scraps, wall-posts, comments on blog and the like??

Oh yeah, that too! But I'm much better with other applications. Orkut once a week, Facebook once in two days, and blog comments at the end of the day. :)

#Harshi,
Yeay! Harshi emailed me! *shows thenga to other bewdas* :P :P

//gosh, we are some hopefuls! :-))

Hahaha! In a way I am glad that the human spirit still harbours hope! Warna hum sab toh hopeless hain! :P :P

//that too, using an ink pen :-)

Ink pen? Ink pen?? :O
*remembers school days and faints*
*THUD*

#Stone,
Hehehe... you'd think it would wear off in a decade, wouldn't you? :)

K said...

Loved this post, as well as your earlier 'slipping thru...'. So true, both of these.
You are on the road to recovery, for you have admitted to your addictions ;)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

i check my email to see messages from my sweetheart. :D

Bivas said...

e-mails...hmmm...once upon a time long long ago...i had an id with every available domain...sometimes more than one with a particular one...I really don't know why...seemed like a lot of fun :-)...esp when some of those like chequemail claimed to pay you money for using the service!
Fast forward to present...although it isn't that much fun but I guess it has become a necessary evil.
//Ink pen? Ink pen?? :O
*remembers school days and faints*
*THUD*

Guess what...me still use fountain pens and I have three diff colors as well...Green, Red and Royal Blue :D

Sandew said...

there are days when i don't touch gmail/orkut for a complete day.
Just to feel that i am in control :D

Sayesha said...

#K,
Hehe... thanks! Hope I recover soon! :D

#The girl from Ipanema,
//i check my email to see messages from my sweetheart. :D

If this is about my Shekhar, *rolls eyes* :/

If this is about some other guy, *goes awwwww* :)

#Bivas,
Hehehe... I used to have all kinds, now I just have two gmail accounts - the primary one and one for the blog. :)

//Guess what...me still use fountain pens and I have three diff colors as well...Green, Red and Royal Blue :D

Holy cow. I have discovered Pilot pens as a perfect substitute for school-days ke ink pens, and I am extremely happy with them. :)

#Sandew,
Hehehe! Shabash! :D

Rosh said...

Nice post!
There is a lot that I have missed in the last couple of months; your posts lie in the top quadrant!

Cheers.
Rosh(known as TLT)

Sayesha said...

#Rosh,
TLT?? Apna TLT? The Lonely Traveller??? Whoa! Welcome back! I gotta go check out where you were travelling all these days - no darshan at the bar! :O

Sriram said...

Nice post!

Me and AngelFaith have been talking about starting to write letters to people in our family. But I think they will be more worried to see a letter than be delighted; since they are hooked on to email too!!!

Cheers!!!

kashika said...

hey Sayesha

Wish you and Viv a very happy Diwali.

How do we know said...

i agree with u on one thing - we expect to be remembered but do not remember!

Shanks_P said...

Good read ....
Two days back I bought some envelope to write a letter to my gandppa and My roomie started staring at me when started writing the letter .....

'To remember' is easy, but to make sure that the thought of letting other know that 'u remebered' is the tough part .....

--Sunrise-- said...

Lovely post.. I agree with you.. we do want to be remembered, but we ourselves don't remember... ahhh this sounds all too familiar! lol!

zahid said...

You wrote on a topic which we all acknowledge but never thoughtof writing,,,, Nice sarcasm between.loved the post

P.S : Even now, out of the few things that make me really happy are when i receive a letter from a post man or a courier all written in one's handwriting.

Amey said...

Sometimes I wonder - what the heck are we checking for?

Some mails are more welcome than others, because of who sent them. Get it? :)

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Janefield said...

liked this post very much, sashben :)

good to know there is atleast one thing common the world shares today - online addictions :P i need to get a grip on my many email ids and overflowing mailboxes too. daunting task indeed :|

@ bivas, i had a chequemail account too, i even received a cheque from them! :D

rt said...

so true!!!
but i still try to pen down a letter or two in a year!! hoping to keep it that way!!!