A World without the Internet – Manish Parashar

“Modems, Internet? What rubbish are you blabbering? This is an STD booth”

The last thing I remembered was that it was a Saturday night. My head felt groggy as I woke up from my slumber around mid-day next and searched for my laptop in the room. Like the morning arati, flicking on my laptop is the first thing I do even before I actually get up from my bed. Everything seemed in their place yet something was amiss in my desktop screen. “Ah!” I thought, “Our dear Wi-Fi is not working”, as is mostly the case. But today an entirely new problem besought my attention. The Wi-Fi icon wasn’t even there AT ALL. I checked in my settings and lo! I couldn’t even find any network configurations or even the name of Internet in my laptop. My anti-virus which is set on Automatic Update mode usually checks for the Internet connection and if none available displays an alert a few minutes after turning on my laptop. Today, it was silent. As I opened it I noticed that the very option of ‘Update’ has vanished. I concluded that my mind must be playing games with me after all; I did have a bit too much last night. Well, I didn’t have much time to ponder over such ‘trivial’ issues with my laptop. I had planned on booking my tickets to Delhi that day. Dressing up quickly I made my way towards the nearest Internet café only to find it being converted in to a telephone booth. How come an overnight change of this order is possible! I asked the guy sitting across the counter, “Boss, where have you shifted all your computers and modems? What happened to your Internet café?” The guy looked at me as if I was speaking some foreign language, “Modems, Internet? What rubbish are you blabbering? This is an STD booth” then looking at my dishevelled look, “you are out of your mind, go drink some lime juice and clear it.”

“Modems, Internet? What rubbish are you blabbering? This is an STD booth”

Hey, just because I’m having a mild headache doesn’t mean I have turned in to a maniac. “Fine, I’ll go TC and at least book the bus tickets there. But have to find an ATM first.” I made my way towards the nearest one near Sheila’s but try as I might I was not being able to locate it. Pacing up and down the alley I by now had seriously begun to think that something seemed definitely different today. As I sat there and sipped on some refreshing lime juice I enquired about the ATM to a passer-by. “AT—what?” was his bewildered reply and he too started giving me those looks as if he had heard some alien language. It’s no use arguing with him, I thought. I had to call up my dad and ask him to transfer some amount to my online Net Banking account.

“Hi dad, how’s the search for our new car going? Did you check the links that I had E-mailed to you?”

“Yeah, I have been to a few automobile showrooms but what is this E-mail that you are talking about? Son, are you okay?”

“…eh, never mind… Can you please me transfer some money to my account? I need to book my tickets.”

“Sure, I will make a Money Order tomorrow, or should I send a Demand Draft to you? You should get it by Thursday I think so.”

“Thursday would be too late. I want the money by tomorrow. Why don’t you transfer it to my account via Net Banking?”

He chuckled and said, “Ha-ha I wish such a thing was possible, son. By the way, what is Net Banking? You sure seem to be talking strange today.”

I hung up lest he might draw the same conclusions as the ex-Internet café anna did. Just then I noticed a friend of mine coming out of the supermarket. “Now that’s strange”, I thought. For this guy is a total E-shopping freak. Soaps, deodorants, clothes and any other thing essential for him for that matter would be ordered online by him. We used to call him the eBay guy. “Hey, Mr. eBay, what’s up with the ‘offline’ shopping today?” I could tell from his looks that the name Ebay did not register with him. Fearing the worse, I headed straight to the ticketing booth. And yes, the once-ubiquitous computer was again missing from their office desk. As expected, they weren’t able to look up on the Internet and tell me the available buses. Because, they didn’t even KNOW what Internet meant.

“Holy moley what’s wrong with the world today!”

I saw another friend of mine trying to peek in to a Television screen that was already blocked by people wanting to watch the ongoing Cricket series. On normal days, I had seen this Cricket buff friend of mine leisurely watching the live screening of the game on his laptop. I guessed him too, like the others have become oblivious of the term that is Internet. I conjectured that I must have slipped in to a parallel world devoid of the Internet through some worm hole or something of that sort. Oh! I missed my Face book friends, knowing at the same time it would be incredulous to even mention the terminologies like Social Networking here. I realized how every aspect of our lives was being controlled by the Internet and how different the world without it seemed. How slow and cumbersome everything seemed! As I unlocked the door of my room I remembered that I was to send an E-mail for participating in an ‘online’ contest. It’s fruitless thinking of that now, I thought, as I slumped back to my bed hoping to escape from this damned world to the E-world where I belong.

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