The year was 1995 or 1996 (It doesn’t really matter now). There was no landline phone at my two bedroom apartment in South Delhi. I was working in India’s leading news agency. The board line numbers of my office were always busy and on quite a few occasions, the telephone lines got all mixed up. Sometimes the call landed where it was not meant to be. On some occasions, the caller disconnected the phone in sheer frustration. To make life easy for our foreign correspondents in New York, London, Beijing, the bosses installed a direct line at the Foreign Desk. This direct landline number became more important to some of us than all our bylines and meager salary. In no time, I gave this number to him so that his call doesn’t get lost in the chaotic news chasing, news gathering world. During the day shift, many times I used to skip my lunch (by not going to the cafeteria) just in the hope that he might call up. And I didn’t want to miss hearing his voice. Till now, nobody knows about this (I was/am quite close to some of my (ex)-colleagues.). Loving him was important, not talking about it. Waiting to hear his voice was important. Even if it meant missing my lunch. And I didn’t think about it then as a ‘sacrifice.’ Now people make it sound like one.
If love’s the hero now then it can’t perform without its all pervasive supporting ‘virtual’ characters : google, whatsapp, skype, Facebook, Instagram, tinder (the list can go on and on). Life is now about searching. We are constantly searching now. Online. Searching about food, clothes, accessories, buying a house, we are searching locations,
prices, sizes. We are searching ‘How to Be.’ We are searching ‘How to be productive’, ‘How to be organized’, ‘How to write a perfect To Do List’ and yes, we are searching for happiness, love.
In a workshop related to web writing, I was told that one of the most popular topics for online search is: ‘How to be happy’. In my moment of curiosity, I searched ‘How to Love’. Google, the brilliant one-stop search engine, disappointed me. The search engine hardly pops up anything leave aside some lyrics of songs. There are many other ‘Hows… how to kiss, how to have sex, how to keep him hooked in bed … The list is endless. The missing one is ‘How to Love’.
In the same breath, I must tell that there are loads and loads of love coaches giving gyaan (knowledge) in the virtual world. One day I got a mail from Mr X (his site popped up during one of my searches for gathering info on a story I was doing). I had checked out his site to find out what it’s actually about. And then I got a number of mails from him. (the virtual world keeps a track of your activities). His mails always had varied subjects, “Does being a bitch really work to attract men and get them in love with you? / How To Make Your Ex Want You Again / 3 Secrets To Quickly Rekindle His Desire / Fatal Mistakes To Avoid In Your Bedroom. I did not reply to him or ever showed any interest in signing up for his ‘hugely popular’ (all his e-mails came with that killer marketing line HURRY, FEW SEATS LEFT) programmes.
Some days back, I got a mail from him : “Hey Deepika , I wanted to quickly stop by and let you know that my program titled ‘How to find perfect romantic love’ is now on sale and available on a 50% discount. Hurry up!!!”
I am in no hurry.