Friday, April 3, 2009

Remembering birthdays

1990. March 28th. Chittu, a very close friend and I were walking towards the water dispenser in our school, HPS.

"What kind of a friend are you, Kamal?"

"What do you mean?"

"You forgot your friend's birthday!"

"Oh shit!"

I suddenly realized that that day was Chittu's birthday and I had forgotten! I felt really guilty.

The next year, however, I had my revenge when Chittu forgot my birthday!

In those days, remembering birthdays took some effort. Apart from the one-off case like this incident, you remembered the birthdays of people you cared for. And it felt good when people remembered your birthday. That means you were important to them.

Not any more.

Now it is difficult not to wish someone on his/her birthday. Whether you care for them or not. Thanks to Orkut and Facebook!

In those days, computers were fairly rare and even though some people had them, they did not have applications like calendars that reminded you about things like birthdays!

Now, as I settle down with my cup of Darjeeling tea every morning, I absolutely have to go to my orkut and facebook home pages to see what's happening with all my friends. There, invariably, someone's birthday reminder comes up. Right next to it, is a helpful little "Leave a scrap" or "Send a Gift" link. Unless you do not like that person, it is difficult to not click on the link and leave a small Hapy Birthday note.

This, in my opinion, completely takes away the personal experience of remembering someone's birthday and wishing him or her. The entire process becomes mechanical. Even when you are the one receiving the wishes, you are almost certain that the wishes came due to a reminder from some such site!

There is a difference between the two, if you know what I mean!

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