He had to write what he was doing in about 140 words or less. He begins typing. 'Sitting in my office cubicle... waiting for a promotion, and a window with a view'... "No No NO" He shakes his head. "This is too much information". He pressed backspace until nothing remained in the box except a blinking cursor.
People read what you put on this, he thought. Just then a status update read- 'My child spent 30 minutes in the toilet today'. This was from his ex-classmate from grade 10. She had married earlier than him, and had two children- a boy and a girl. He himself had a girl about 9 years old. She spends hours in the bathroom herself. But it wouldn't seem appropriate to mention her bowels and toilet habits in public.
Another of his school mates had recently changed her profile picture. It was tiny, so he clicked on it to view it in full size... and... "Whoa!" escaped his mouth. He checked the time. It was a very recent update.
"She must still be online" he thought. And she was.
He faced a common problem: How to begin a written conversation with someone you have never spoken to? not even way back in Grade School?
Without thinking, he typed "Hi" and pressed enter
She replied almost instantly 'Hi to yourself, long time no see'
He takes a bold step and types: 'Yeah, tell me about it, I never saw you here until your profile picture change'
He waited for her reply which seemed to take forever. 'She must be thinking' he thought. He also had her profile page open- Age 32, unmarried, and looks like a underwear model. In her profile picture, she had a yellow top- tight fitting- not exposing, but visible, a red skirt- long legs, and hair that supports a very provocative look.
A red blip with the letter 1 appeared on the bottom right of his computer screen, it was her.
'Do I look fat in that picture?' She asked.
This was not flirting. He is not betraying his wife. He wife looked at him from his picture frame on the table. The picture was taken in Pokhara on their 7th anniversary second honeymoon. She was smiling in the picture. His wife did not look angry.
'All I see are muscles- no fat there' He replied
This private moment was disturbed by his co-worker. "Hey! The company bus will come around in about half an hour. Get Ready, we're taking pictures outside."
Another red blip with the letter "2" appeared.
'You look good too, You used to wear glasses in school right?' She asked.
He then replied:
'Yeah- huh you remembered'
'I wanted to look like a hindi film hero, a nice guy :-)) '
'ha ha.. you looked Like a studious person'
He was enjoying this: 'Now... not like a nerd though right?'
She too showed she was enjoying this. 'No! you were not good in studies. Nerds are good in studies. I beat you in almost everything'
She remembers so much detail. And its been over 15- 16 years.
He was about to type, 'seems like yesterday doesn't it' but deleted everything.
Again a disturbance from his colleague. "Come on! You're Missing Office Group Pictures".
He had to say goodbye to his ex classmate. 'Hey, I have to go. Lets catch up sometime over coffee or lunch' he said Without any hope of reply from her.
She then replied, 'Sure, I would like that very much'
He smiled while he typed good bye. Sure he was married for ten years, but it was not like he was doing anything immoral. Actually he was happy for himself. " I Still got it... I still got the power." He was smiling as he went for the group pictures.
He was sure his pictures came out good. He was smiling all the time during first round of pictures, until the fifth round. Then, it started getting a little irritating.
Everyone had a camera there. And everyone was taking pictures. Click here and click there. And then they starting to make faces and pose in front of the camera.
He remembered the last outing from the office when everyone had a camera for a single purpose "TO UPLOAD PHOTOS" And they uploaded everything. Even the 'being drunk stupid' part. He always thought Nepalese who stay abroad were more liberal in terms of showing what they drink and smoke and syringe compared to people in Nepal. He hated to be proved wrong.
....What he felt most irritating was the album names they use 'A fun time with friends'. "How would they be having a nice time if they are busy photographing? Loners, Narcissists... Everyone of them", he thought.
After a series of camera parties, he had vowed never to go to another party for the rest of his office going life. But this one was important. One of his seniors was leaving, going abroad. Which meant a vacant post. He was due for a promotion. And everything was going good for him.
The party was exactly like he thought it would be. People would start drinking, making smoke circles, talk about nothing, and then start clicking. Click here, click there, click click, click, click, click everywhere... He needed to breathe.
He took a huge gulp of his drink. And stayed there trying to hold a smile to everyone, to every camera pointed at or around himself. Conscious of everything. Never relaxed.
He didn't know why he was still in the party. His work here was done. He was there; He was sitting beside his leaving senior, his boss knows he is in the party, he was smiling to every camera, but it was getting unbearable.
No one really wants to listen to each other. And everyone is constantly talking, getting drunk and getting stupid. He wanted to get out.
A colleague sitting beside him tells him, "Hey.. Hey... Your Phone's been ringing for hours."
He reached to his jacket pocket. It was his wife.
He picked up his phone, listened for a while and said, "Stay there, Stay there... I am coming over right now, just stay there".
He then turned to the colleague sitting beside him, "I have to go, my daughter is sick". He then said his last farewell to the abroad going senior, and clarified his leave to his head boss.
His wife had called him because their 9 year old daughter had fainted. On the way back home, he called his doctor friend who said he would come by the next day.
He reached the front door and rang the bell. His wife opened and said almost immediately, "She is sleeping. Do you know our daughter has been dieting?"
He was baffled. "Dieting? What? Why in the world... ?"
"She says she wants to be a model." Replied his wife.
"My God. Is this what its all about?" He replied in a matter of fact way.
His wife gave him a look saying 'Do you know something I don't?'
He begins explaining. "She was taking this quiz in this social networking site. 'What should be your ambition'... or something like that. The results are fashionable celebrity Ambitions like Astronaut, or Journalist, or Scientist, or a Politician."
"And her's came a model?" His wife always filled in the gaps in their conversation.
"Supermodel" he corrected her, "It is supposed to make us feel good about ourselves. People don't take these things seriously".
"She is a child. She grabs these sort of things. I have child locked the television so that she wouldn't be influenced by it... and..and...You said this site would be a nice learning experience for her."
"It is a nice learning experience, I didn't think about this.... I'll talk to her in the morning." He tried defending himself.
His wife takes a deep breath. "Did you have dinner?"
Bedtime was early for his wife. He however was in the television room. He was thinking about everything. When he came to his senses, he realized he was watching a French channel.
He didn't follow the usual routine of TV and then internet. He didn't visit the social-networking site that night. It didn't feel awkward. He brushed his teeth and went straight to bed.
In the bed, he was thinking about child locking the internet. He had read somewhere that internet is the Twenty First Century addiction. He calculated his hours in the internet. All day in office, and back home over 8 hours. 'Every addiction had a price to pay' he thought, "Maybe I should lay off the site for a while"
He then tried sleeping. He thought about what he would tell his daughter, and if his boss will promote him or not. Then, his mind then wandered off to the unmarried 32 year old ex classmate. 'Wonder why she is unmarried?"
He was falling asleep but the visions of his daughter as a 32 year old unmarried model came to him haunting back. He opened his eyes. "Bloody Site!" he cursed and fell back to bed.