I was so restless. I didnt have money. The browsing centers in Tirunelveli costs 45 rs/hr for browsing and I dont even know when she would come online. It was this. I met a girl few days back in a chat room. It went well. She even called the browsing center landline to have a voice chat with me. But then she didnt show up online at all and I didnt have a clue where and how to find her. Its like killing me. I was so obsessed with her and her voice. All I knew was she is from Erode.
I have sent a dozens of emails and all the cute cards I can find in 123greetings.com but she didnt reply. The only thing I wanted to do is to stay online and catch whenever she appears online to know more about her and start wooing her. It was 2005 and I was unemployed. I cant bother mom and dad form 100 rs daily and all the questions would come up and why do I want it. I didnt even have a mobile phone.
My brother saw that I am worried about something and after his comforting talk, I finally told him what is what.
“You know, Suresh Ramji, He was taking care of a browsing center?”
“Do I get to browse there for free the whole day?”
“I am afraid, I cannot answer that, because he left the job last week”
“So what can we do now?”
“The good news is his cousin is taking care of the browsing center right now. His name is Mani. And guess what?”
“He is from erode, may be you can talk to him”
The first thing I did next morning was to reach the browsing center where Mani was working. Mani was a guy who was two years elder to me. He wore specs and a peculiar hairstyle. He was obviously in love with his hair and checked the mirror once in ten minutes. He was not easy to converse. He just answered few questions and didnt even bother to ask who I was. In the mean time my brother talked to Suresh Ramji and he was in the browsing center too.
“Mani, This is Prasanna. My friend’s brother. He wants to know something about erode it seems. May be you can help”
I looked at Mani and he had this “Shoot any question” look to his face as if he was the mayor of erode before he decided to serve Tirunelveli with his services.
“Hmm, Where exactly do you stay in Erode”
“I am not from Erode, I am from bhavani”
“Isn’t both the same?”
“No, Now tell me what is that you want to know about Erode”
By the time Suresh Ramji left the room, and I was able to talk freely.
“It is about a girl. I just know her name and her father’s name and her house is situated near VOC park”
“Forget about it then”
“Why is it hard to find with such specification. I have a friend called Bala. If you want to know about any girl in this city all you have to give him is her name and father’s name. He will give the details in next two minutes.”
“I am not talking about that. Even I know such people back in Erode. But the thing is the girls who go to VOC park are frowned upon because you know it is so shady and lot of bushes and all”
I feel like hitting him. But I was not able to do it. However, Mani promised me that when he goes back to Erode to visit his parent, he would get in touch with one of his friends to know more about this girl. He even promised to visit the place himself. But he had a condition. He wanted me daily at the browsing center.
“All I know is my brother’s friends here and they are elder to me. It will be cool if I can develop my circle of friends. You can even use internet when you are here.” he said.
That was the perfect opportunity. The browsing center was called Computer Park Cafe aka CPC. It was located in a strategic location in the middle of three colleges and above a tea shop and near a xerox shop. They had only 5 computers one of which is a main computer which was used for connection, printout, scanning and stuff. The broadband connection was not introduced in Tirunelveli back then. All the five systems are connected through LAN and the connection was a 128 kbps dial up connection, which takes forever to connect.
Since we were charged back then for the minutes of usage, we only connect when there is atleast one customer in the browsing center. If some one shows up, I will get the luxury of browsing till the other person finishes his chores. And when the person finishes his things up, we would have to disconnect the internet connection and will be chatting all the random things in the earth waiting for the next person to show up.
This made things more tough for me, as I would wait for the particular girl and suddenly when a light shimmers up near her name, the other person may stop his work and get up. There was rarely more than one customer at the same time. Clearly the owner was making losses. And among other things, Mani was not my type at all. I hated his know it all attitude typically when he didnt know anything at all. In his point of view, I was just a loser waiting for a girl, who may never come online. And he was doubly convinced that she has a boyfriend in Erode.
And then I was made to do all the chores like buying A4 sheets for print out, filling up the printer catridges, connecting the internet when somebody comes up and Mani is busy with Indian express newspaper, Updating system anti-virus in all the computers and make sure there is no malware in any system and occasionally buying Mani food. According to him, I am paying it forward for the help he is going to do in few days.
And suddenly one day Mani wanted to go to Erode for his friend’s wedding. And the owner didnt want to close the shop for three days. It was then Mani recommended me to take care of the shop as I more or less know all the stuff he is doing. I was not aware that for the next eight months, this place is going to be my residing place, day in and day out.
Rest in Next