Saturday, July 4, 2015

Remembering Orkut

Back in the restless days of my undergraduate existence, I was a fairly active orkut person. I spent around two to three hours every week on orkut, and I never just surfed around - that time was spent actively messaging people, or 'scrapping' them, as it was lovingly called in orkut parlance - and I used to almost exclusively scrap girls from my high school who I had been out of touch with for over an year. Two to three hours a week might not sound like a lot to most millennials, but I am talking about 2006, and times, I kid you not, were simpler: walking half an hour at night for a Rs.10 glass of orange juice at a small corner in Rohini sector 16 used to be enough to get us boys all excited, so you can do your own calculations. Anyway, the advent of orkut had made me a bit of a popular kid among my friends. My friends were mostly small town guys: I don't think any of my close friends at DCE, except Adyansh, were Delhiites (Abhineet too, but he became a friend in 2007). At first, I had found them rather different from kids I grew up with in Delhi. It took me much longer to become thick with them than it took for them to get thick amongst themselves. But soon enough, I had not only accepted the differences, but rather realized that the ways in which they were different from me were mostly ways in which they were better than me, ways in which I'd like to change to be more like them. It has to be said, though, that one of those differences worked in my favor. I wrote more educated-sounding English sentences, and boy was that ever more prized than in the orkut days when every girl we wanted to talk to seemed to have a profile written in prim, pristine, Queen's English? True, there were also the 'i luv mah frnz' girls, but they were for some reason never the most sought-after ones. I rose to prominence in my hostel as the guy who could not only write you an orkut profile fairly eye-catching, but given the right incentives, might also write you a stellar 'testimonial'. Most of my zero-fee clients, engineers that they were, wanted the same things in their testimonial: that they don't study at all and still top their exams, that they were fun-loving and funny but were also daredevils ready to put themselves in any harm's way for their buddies. It is Delhi, mind you, and a facility with hot-blooded brawls was deemed to be a badge of honor for guys, even if the girl on the judgement chair were a Stephens educated, feminist, marxist, artist. One of my clients I wasn't a big fan of, let's call him NR. The testimonial I wrote for him read: "Basically he's a nice guy." I could have written "He's basically an asshole" to be more honest, but such testimonials were common and were supposed to be inferred as tongue-in-cheek jibes, intended actually to enhance the coolness quotient: 'we're so cool we insult each other with orkut testimonials', went the dictum. So that wouldn't have worked. But there was no redeeming factor for praise as mild as someone being "basically a nice guy", as if you couldn't find anything more remarkable to say about him even when writing a testimonial. It was the ultimate put-down. Expectedly, he didn't accept it. Moreover, the offense NR took exceeded even my expectations: he came to my room that night, and told me he had more 'fans' on his profile than I had 'friends'. ('Fans' was another orkut gimmick - basically you could choose to identify as a fan of any of your friends, and everybody's fan-count was displayed atop their profiles. It was the ultimate backscratching rehearsal for people entering the workforce.) I apologized, but he unfriended me anyway.


  1. I am finding more and more Delhi folks talk about how they are or they would like to be friends with non-Delhi junta. :/

    Orkut for me served the same purpose that Instagram does these days. I quickly realized if I leave some photos that I took, open for public viewing, join a few photography communities, I would have fellow photographers to share my work with. Over a period of time, Orkut helped me learn better about photography and composition styles - Bokeh, for example. I lost all those connections with Orkut, given my interest was minimal in these people and more so in their work. I enjoyed my fame as a testimonial writer as well, some people wrote as many as 3 testimonial to extract one from me. However, soon I was bored of it, and took to deleting all the testimonials I had written and those which had been written for me. :D Life isn't fair, afterall. ;)

  2. My 'getting testimonials' story was very different from yours. I used to request people not to write me any. If they wrote, I did not accept. Although I did accept three. I didn't want to, but those were from people I couldn't say no to, for anything.

    I don't think I deleted any testimonial I wrote for anyone else. Why would you do that?

  3. Regarding Delhi folks wanting to be friends with non-Delhi folks: I suspect that would be true for people of any city X, not just Delhi. Don't all people seek something that was hitherto beyond them?

    If that is not the case for other cities (although I suspect it is), well, it reflects well on Delhi ;)