Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Mystery’s in the Mail!

By: Shefali Tripathi Mehta

Everything eventually gets IT-jacked, including your friendly neighborhood advise-auntie. The one who visited at three in the afternoon and headed straight to the bedroom to sit cross-legged on the bed with her pallu in her lap to tell you that mustard oil for bhindi and saliva for pimples work best. W3 nudged her out. Wiki, Google this and that were all a screen away. I never again rang her bell to ask exactly how many milliliters of water my indoor plant could do without.

When the doctor prescribed a treatment without sharing the diagnosis, I promptly told him that I knew it wasn't an ordinary zit but a KELOID and that though he wasn't telling me I knew already that there was no treatment for it and whatever he may try, I was doomed to live with a KELOID all life. Googled? he smiled first, Try black magic, he mocked. Very tentatively, reluctantly, I let go of googling everything that whizzed in and out of my mind. But the prompts lurking in the sidelines of the mailbox continue to tempt and tease, offering their unsolicited advice as readily as auntie. The moment I receive a new mail I look sideways at them to give me some clue about its contents. They are all but bells and whistles. It’s a game more stimulating than a migraine aura or a cryptogram.

Some are barefaced, easy to read. Like when I see ‘Free Jokes, Funny Photos, Laugh-while-you-can,’ wink and blink in the wings, I know the mail must contains words like laugh, funny, enjoy. Though it can also be from someone in the ICU moaning that though he could not note the number of the car that hit him, he would recognize the driver’s smile anywhere. If a sender as much as mentions 'author' or 'book', even if it’s in the context of 'book a case' or 'completely authored' the links beckon me to ‘First-day-five-thousand-copies-sold Publisher’ and ‘Rowling or Roy – Help with Idiom’.

If the sender writes, I’m sleepy now, ‘Top insomnia treatment’ lurks in the margins and if, I didn't get much sleep – ‘Sleep Apnea Symptoms, Sleep Devices Inc’. When someone complains that the new boss is a pain in wherever appropriate, it tells me to ‘Try Dr B….for aches and pains’! As soon as the Bank statement email comes, I am sucked into virtual tours of cruises on the Nile offering caviar foot packs and diamond under-tail clips for my pet. They may spy my mails but have problems counting the zeros.

But it’s not often that I see conclusions stretch to incongruous limits such as when after a tiff with a friend I was directed to Hindi Bhajans and Hanuman Chaalisa! The exchange had been peppered with words such as sad and angry but it wasn't a Mahabharat kind of fight, so imagine my surprise when I spied one link, though last, like an afterthought, but just in case…of Packers and Movers!! For definitely fighters must be people living under the same roof! What if one of us was contemplating moving out? No business opp should be missed. One’s world may be falling apart but logistic help is always at hand.

Then there are those that hint at the bizarre. I’m cleaning windows, I write and am promptly, in highlighted font, advised that ‘Denims may guard against rattlesnake bites’. I love Curtis Stone, I confess and in all caps it warns ‘Recipe for disaster!’ Someone was late for work, I barely read when the margin glows with ‘Govt employees rejoice’. Those two sure go together! A friend shared his anxiety about visitors at an upcoming event ‘It could be a flood or a trickle,’ he wrote and I told him to organize boats because I was being directed to ‘flood warning’. A short note on this and that and nothing much led me to ‘Are You a Fresher? Let Companies Discover Your Talent’. I sifted and strained but words it wasn't. The sender had used green font.

The friend’s mail is all bold and unread. I’m looking more at the right, trying to figure out what it may contain. Curiouser and curiouser, I click. Atta, dal, kids, maid and the husband late from work. In big bold letters the offer displays itself ‘Exp:0-5yrs, Sal: 25-100K Submit Resume’. But of course! Someone working late must need a job change.

Everything that I ever want or do not want to know at my fingertips. Smug, I log in to check my mail. ‘No new mail’ it proclaims and promptly leads me to ‘Hysterectomy Via Keyhole Surgery is Less Complicated: Study’. Auntiji!

This piece was published in The Deccan Herald, Sunday, December 5, 2010 in a horribly mutilated form.  In the name of EDITING, they BUTCHERED and knocked the punch out of it! It doesn’t even read okay! Check out: