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November 4, 2010 / Rohit

Diwali Through the Ages

I remember a time when during Diwali you would go visit other peoples’ houses. You would take with you packets of assorted dry-fruits, gift wrapped in something gaudy. Your hosts will fawn over you. After offering you tea (which you refused after many thanks but was still forced down your throat and now you have kept down with just the black-stuff floating in the bottom) they tell you how you have to stay back for lunch/dinner. This you politely refuse and promise for the next time.

Then came the telephone. Instead of going to places, you would just call up people. You still visited some folks, but only the ones you really cared about. Diwali greetings were conveyed through a string of outgoing and incoming phone calls. Pleasantries, wishes, small talk and click.

Then came the cell-phone. Calling was too expensive, but SMS was cheap. In fact if you were really smart, you would be on a plan which gave you FREE SMS for the next 3 weeks! Of course, to do that you had to jump carriers and change your number (once again), but it was worth it. So now, instead of calling up people you would send out mass SMSes. But rather than send out a plain boring “Wish you and your family a Happy Diwali.”, you would forward one of the many forwarded SMSes which you got. It would be sent to all the people whom you cared about, but not that much. Your recipients’ phones would start beeping … in alphabetical order.

Along with the cell phone, came the Internet. SMS was cheap and sometimes even free. But it was limited to 140 characters (or was it 180?) and you couldn’t send pictures. So instead of mass SMSes people started emailing every one of their contacts multi-coloured bold text with images of cute-puppies, bursting fire crackers (rendered through animated GIFs) and lots of exclamation marks.

Now in the age of social networking, you just put “Happy Diwali” as your status message on Facebook and you are done. People whom you really want to wish, will be tagged in that update. But If you want to go the extra mile, you would dig up images from the emails of past Diwalis (see paragraph above), upload it to Facebook, and tag every BFF of yours on that image.

No need to SMS.
No need to call.
No need to pay a personal visit.
Facebook takes care of it all.


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