Growing up in a typically middleclass, co-educational school back in the Eighties – around the time Michel Jackson was Moonwalking “Beat-it” – love was all about letters. Seemingly endless tomes, professing affection that begun with “quotations” from Medieval English poems and were in fact, collaborative efforts. Typically, one wrote it (he with the neatest handwriting), one created the content (he with access to most books of quotations / poems), one signed it (he suffering from the affliction called love, heck we didn’t even know the word called “crush” ) and the most recklessly valiant delivered it (he who ran the risk of being slapped).
In nine cases out of ten the letters did not yield any result – the little ladies receiving them being equally scared to read them as we were about writing them. In some cases they resulted in chilling summons to the Principal’s office, “parents to see” notices, even rustication. In rare cases they elicited an acknowledgement – a shy smile that carefully avoided the gaze – enough for us to know that our purpose on terra firma has been vindicated. No, the smiles did not automatically translate into “dates”, which to us were exotic fruits from Arabia, to be had by the faithful for breaking the fast during the Holy month. (That’s not an exaggeration considering the fact that I am talking of a time when your Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t even born) Yes, it used to be long, painful process and, by the time we mustered enough courage to go up and speak to our lady loves, school leaving examinations would dawn and most would vanish into all-girl colleges never to be seen again, their one smile, remaining our most cherished possession, forever.
In the rarest of the rare cases where the letters elicited the desired response and sparks led to wildfires, the opening gambits: the so-called pick-up lines from the pre-cell phone era ,were as awkward and prosaic as we were. “I love you” Diptesh had told Satarupa. And as Satarupa’s knees had given up, suddenly confronted by the enormity of the three words spoken to her, Diptesh had chickened out, mumbling incoherently “said, the swallow to the reed” (lines from our English Literature staple “The Happy Prince”) before fleeing, still unable to confront his perfume of the heart, till date.
“Barkis is willing” from David Copperfield was an equally abused line and we had elevated throwing the line towards expecting (?) princesses with all the nonchalance of peacocks doing the mating dance. Often, the letters – our heart seeking missiles – would land at the wrong target leading to enormous collateral damage, peer group castigation, abject humiliation, global sanctions, or all, but that is another story. Suffice to say, our antics were naïve, however much we wanted to pass ourselves off as knaves and dandies of the day.
If you can visualize those bell-bottom pants, Hara stretch Jeans, Balmont T-shirts and desperately practiced Kamala Hasan moves from Sanam Teri Kasam, you too must be seeing the flash back in Techni-Colour Cinemascope. Now press the fast forward button and check out the Top 20 pickup lines of the day. Thank you technology, wish I was young again:
- Turn on your Bluetooth: let’s pair our hearts and devices.
- If you were a Tweet, I’d favourite you instantly and never re-Tweet you – don’t want to share you with everybody.
- Is your name Google? You are everything I ever want to know.
- You’ve stolen the ASCII to my heart.
- How ‘bout a little peer-to-peer saliva swapping?
- You are so pretty I wouldn’t even need Instagram filters if I were to take your pic.
- Where is the Like button to that smile?
- Every breath you take, every tweet you make …. I’ll be watching you.
- No, that isn’t an i-Pod mini in my pocket. I’m just happy to see you.
- Excuse me for a second. I need to change my status to “taken”.
- You can put a Trojan on my hard drive anytime.
- Ah, you still use Internet Explorer – you like things nice and slow.
- You so auto-complete me.
- Let’s merge our Photoshop layers?
- What’s an Avatar like you doing in a Social Network like this?
- Let me StumbleUpon all over you?
- Is your IP available for some chat?
- There’s something wrong with my cellphone : it doesn’t have your number in it.
- Can I download you on my hard disk?
- How ‘bout you and me being the dual sims on the handset of life?
You can follow Chawm Ganguly in Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharmChawm