Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Column in the New Indian Express - June 27, 2010

This article appeared in my column "Un Intended" in the New Indian Express on June 27, 2010. The article was titled "If Romeo and Juliet were on Twitter"

Ask any romantic, and he or she will, after blushing and hawing and hemming, vouch fervently that good communication is the bedrock of any thriving romance. Which throws open a case for us to examine the relationship between communication modes and romance, especially since the olden days. Clearly, if the movies I’ve seen are to be believed, Romeo and Juliet (the father and mother of romance) had poor communication between them, leading to the grave situation they eventually found themselves in. Apparently they used messengers, who were either shot at or, who, frequently wandered off to sell the hot story to tabloids. Promising affairs thus got nicked in the bud – the letters reaching too late or never at all. Naturally most romances in the old days died in early stages. A cry rose for advanced communication modes.
Postal services, for example, would have helped romances much better. Letters laden with long prose, poems, perfumes and heart shaped diagrams could have caused much joy and cheer to Juliet and Romeo (long as they did not fall into the wrong hands). There is one problem with letters though. They always outlive the romance, and pop up in tattered conditions at fragile moments in matrimonial life, causing distress, bad words and divorce. Romeo and Juliet divorced? Not a good advertisement for any service that is promoting romance.
To avoid these tattered letters, Romeo and Juliet could have used the ubiquitous STD/ISD booths. They could have spoken for as long as their hearts and pockets allowed them to, planned better, and run off into the sunset without the complicated poison business. Or, if they had waited longer, emails would have averted all tragedy. Romeo and Juliet could have easily created mail ids such as Crazy Lover 2001 and Tender Rose 2003 and maintained secret liaisons without anyone knowing. With the exception of sever not responding, messages could have been sent and received, for quick and clear action on either side. A well worded email, bcc’d to all, and they would have remained happily married ever after in Greenland or Iceland. Subject matter ‘Come tonight’ and ‘Got married’ would suffice.
Cell phones? Even better. Why send mails that can be stored forever and brought up at inconvenient times? Also, they could sit next to each another and speak sweetly into the phone instead of cursing one another face to face. SMSes can be used only for forceful messages. And since all villains would be busy fidgeting with their cell phones, there wouldn’t have been any problems of any sort.
But no communication mode can beat Romeo and Juliet being on facebook or Orkut or Twitter. Connect, propose, marry, upload pictures and videos on both accounts, and everyone in the world knows right then. Broken hearts, happy families, friends - many birds with one post! A more efficient method is yet to be found.
Apart from benefiting the cause of romance, my big theory is that Romeo and Juliet would have lived much longer if they had been on Facebook or Orkut or Twitter. Juliet could have tweeted, a second before consuming the potion, and Romeo and his 93 friends (and their 2500 friends) and 40 followers, would have known instantly. That would have set everything right. The downside is that Romeo and Juliet (868 friends) might not have attained their cult status – if one of them were to post their status as single after a small tiff, we’d all know that Juliet is single, and by default, Romeo, and that’d be the end of it all!

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