29 October 2016



I became a member of Orkut in the year 2004. It was the newest drug in town. In those days I was studying as a first year student of Political Science at St. Xavier's College, Calcutta. My friend from the Physics department had sent me an invitation to join Orkut. Yes, thats right, in those days one needed an invitation from someone else to join Orkut.

Orkut was a social networking website owned and operated by Google. The service was designed to help users meet new and old friends and maintain existing relationships. The website was named after its creator, Google employee Orkut Büyükkökten.

Instantly I was hooked on to Orkut. I loved its colour scheme. I loved its features. The only thing that I hated was the restriction that one could only upload twelve pictures. Not more than that. Obviously later on Orkut increased that number significantly.

Orkut was much better than Yahoo Messenger. On Yahoo Chat-rooms like Calcutta Global Chat-room, most of the time the females turned out to be males. In Orkut you got to interact with genuine female profiles. And the fake profiles were easy to point out too. Profiles which had pictures, such as the one below, as their DPs were all fake profiles.

Once you log into Orkut, your DP (Display Pic) was on the top left hand corner. Next to it was your name. Below your name were the number of scraps, photos, videos and the number of fans which you had. Your page was divided into three sections - Social, Professional and Personal. The top right hand corner showed your friends and below that were your communities. This was my very first Orkut DP in 2004. Today when I look at this pic it seems so corny. This was also my first effort at Adobe Photoshop. 

In those days I had a huge crush on Aishwarya Rai. Back then I had huge posters of Aishwarya Rai pasted on my bedroom walls. Most of the posters were from the film Devdas. I used to buy those posters from Esplanade. Here is another crude attempt at Photoshop. I had uploaded this picture too in Orkut when there was a restriction of only twelve photos.

Orkut was very useful in spying on ex-girlfriends. And also was very useful in stalking other beautiful women. I used to spy on my ex-girlfriend and used to read all her scraps. It gave me an idea of what was going on in her life. Though she did not want me to be a part of her life anymore, still through Orkut I felt that I was still a part of her life. I used to miss her tremendously and Orkut gave me some sort of a solace.

I sent her a friend request from my real Orkut account. She immediately blocked me. Therefore I had to create a fake account to keep track of her life. Through the fake account I came to know things like when she left Calcutta and went to Delhi for further studies and other stuff. 

I made a lot of friends on Orkut. Orkut was all about friending strangers and unfriending known people. It was all about becoming someone's fan and writing testimonials about them. You could send a private message or add someone to your hot-list or crush-list. You could also ignore some unwanted user and also report abuses. You also had to upload a lot of info about yourself and about your likes and dislikes, though it was optional. 

Orkut was about joining groups or communities about things like bangla rock to foreign language films. In those days I was an avid listener of rock music and an avid watcher of foreign films. I used to listen religiously to rock and metal music and watch films from different countries of the world. Orkut was the ideal place to interact with like minded people and exchange views and thoughts and get enriched in the process. 

The Nandigram massacre happened on 14th March 2007. We all instantly expressed our anger against the evil CPM on Orkut. All anti-CPM-minded people immediately friended each other and communities were formed overnight against the CPM. I wrote a poem on the night of 14th March and immediately uploaded it on Orkut. Later on it was published in Nabarun Bhattacharya's magazine "Bhashabandhan".

The first protest gathering was held at Metro Channel, opposite Metro Cinema, at Esplanade on 17th March 2007. On the night of 16th March, I got in touch with a lot of like-minded young boys in Orkut and we all decided that we all would meet the next day at the protest gathering at Esplanade. 

A lot of intellectuals and members of the civil society were present at the protest gathering. The great Kabir Suman had predicted such a scenario way back in 1998 in his album "Nishiddhyo Ishtehaar". Back then he had written "Ekdin Hobey Gono-Obbhyuthhan, Sedin Amar Gaan-er Bhaarar Khulo". And the predicted "Gono-Obbhyuthhan" really happened in 2007. All political and non-political forces came together and protested against the Left Front Government. 

When me and my friends saw Kabir Suman there, we asked him what should we do? He replied, "Anarchy Koro, Anarchy Koro". That day on stage Kabir Suman said the following lines on the microphone, "Ei Sala Khankir Chhele Buddho, Aay Aamakey Eshey Dhorshon Kor, Khomota Thakley Aamakey Eshey Rape Kor". Everybody started clapping. I was there standing just beside the stage on the left side. Fire was brimming over from Suman's eyes that day. He was confident that Nandigram would be the Waterloo of the CPM. Nabarun Bhattacharya spoke on the stage and declared that he was giving up his Bankim Award which he had received for his novel Herbert. Joy Goswami read two poems. I especially loved his poem "Shashoker Proti" very much. Another singer named Bidyut Bhowmik also sang a few protest songs. The protest programme went on throughout the day. One CPM pimp tried to create a minor disturbance and the crowd got a bit agitated for a moment, but Kabir Suman instantly calmed down the crowd with the song "Haal Chherona Bondhu".

A community called BAOS (Be Aware Of Surroundings) was formed in Orkut. I was a member of that community. At the height of the Nandigram movement we all decided to meet one day at Nandan and decided to bring out a little magazine by the same name - BAOS. Within a month we came out with our first edition. It was a proud moment for all the members. My name and phone number was there on the magazine as the founding member. Facebook played a very important role in the revolution of Egypt in 2011. Orkut had also played a very important role in the "Poriborton" of Bengal in 2011.  

Back in those days in Orkut there was a woman named Anamika who used to write very good poetry. There was a page where she used to upload her poems. Most of her poems were political in nature. However I don't know her true identity. The name Anamika was most probably a fake name. She could also be a man. But some of the poems were really good.  

In Anjan Dutta's song "Ranjana-2" from his 2007 album "Aami aar Godot", there were these lines :

Tumi Janabey Tomar Mot 
Dekhabey Naa Mukh
Sudhu Montobbye 
Bhorey Jabey Orkut
Sudhu Computer Achey Nei Oboshor Somoy
Tai Ranjana Aami Aar Ashbona Tomar Paraay...

In 2009 I fell in love with a woman and wrote the following poem as her Testimonial on Orkut :

Alice in Wonderland 

She is an Alice in Wonderland 
I like Her soft-spokenness    
I wish I could hold her hand 
A magical Enigma, by God's Grace 

Life itself has made Her Stronger 
Still She is weak like a Rose 
I really want to Love Her Longer 
Lets see, where this Emotion goes 

She is a Paradox, both Hot and Cool 
A Sense of Belonging I always get 
Am I rushing in as a Smitten Fool 
Wish I could take Her out on a Date 

A Date together from Dawn till Dusk 
From the far North to the South Pole 
What is the Meaning of Life, I ask 
We are All just going down the Rabbit-Hole 

The White Rabbit is showing Us the Road 
Though We are separated by a few Years 
This is nothing but Information-Overload 
We are All swimming in our own Pool of Tears 

But what about the Hypocrites of Society  
We both belong to an entirely different Class 
I don't care about the High and the Mighty 
We are All trying to look Through The Looking Glass 

But somehow there is a Layer of Sadness 
In Her soft serene gentle Eyes 
Though She gives me a Sense of Madness 
I wish She could have heard my Cries 

But it is True that She doesn't Love Me 
It is True that She doesn't really Care 
The Tragedy is out there for All to See
This is my Life, this ain't No Truth or Dare...

Orkut became immensely popular in India and Brazil. Facebook was there too but Orkut was more popular than Facebook. Then a strange thing started happening. Suddenly all the wannabe-beautiful-freelance-model-chicks started migrating to Facebook. The frustrated horny lonely boys had no choice but to leave Orkut behind and follow them there. People started leaving Orkut behind and started building up new lives in Facebook. No body actually deleted their Orkut accounts. The profiles were all there, but people started spending more and more time in Facebook and less and less time in Orkut. If one was still active in Orkut then he/she was considered to be a loser. To be seen in Orkut was considered down-market and an uncool thing.

I resisted the charm of Facebook for a long time. Initially I found it very difficult to migrate to FB. I tried my best to hang on to Orkut for as long as possible. But by then all my friends, enemies, ex-girlfriends, present girlfriends, former and latest crushes etc. had all already migrated to FB and had also started building houses there keeping in mind permanent netizenship. Thus with a heavy heart I also had to leave my comfort Orkutian-zone and enter into an unknown world. In the beginning I did not like FB's structure. Then that FB-Timeline thing happened which I hated even more. But with time I accustomed myself. I had no choice. I had to migrate to Facebook to move on with the times.

Orkut died a slow and painful death. On June 30, 2014, Google announced it would be closing Orkut on September 30, 2014. No new accounts could be created starting from July 2014. By then all Orkutans had migrated to Facebook. I really felt very sad on 30th September 2014. Orkut had become a part of our lives for a few consecutive years especially around 2007/2008. It was like the death of an old friend...


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