Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fooled by randomness

It was just another Friday evening. There was an unnoticed calmness in my mind and heart filled with joy. This was a long awaited moment after five stretched and wreaked weekdays. I had nothing to do except to lie on my bed munching snacks and watching my favorite Seinfeld and George Lopez shows. I had my lappy – my laptop beside me and my personal mail box open. My dear friends often emailed me about their day, work or any incidents that they were interested to share. It was early morning 5 am back home while I am in a time zone where the clock is lagging ten and a half hour. I was pretty sure I would not get any emails at this point of time. But my stupid mind could not stop me take a look at my inbox every 10 minutes. I was addicted.

‘1 new message’ popped up and I turned to look at the inbox only to see an email from ‘Zorpia’ saying we have found few friends for you in India. Since time immemorial, I get this message in my Inbox. I do not know which friend of mine had sent me an invite and I had created an account that was never used. During off hours when I do not get any emails from my friends and family, I get emails from Zorpia, Amazon, eBillme, Bank Of America etc. I frowned and deleted the message. The Seinfeld was now getting more interesting and I had my undivided attention. Seinfeld and my snacks got over and I got up to get some tea and few more snacks. Having snacks always made me feel relaxed and without that Friday evening will be incomplete.

I came back with a cup of tea and some snacks and George Lopez show was on. I placed the snack beside my bed and I saw 4 new emails in the inbox. At a glance I could make out all four were junk emails and none of them were from my friends or relatives. I started deleting all the emails and stopped to see a strange subject line “A unique case of e-introduction (alpha version) – Trust me this is not spam”

Since my childhood I have a tendency of doing things that I am not asked to do. “Diya, do not watch this horror show. It is not meant for you”, my parents once told me and I watched the entire season hiding in a blanket (I felt safe from ghosts hiding in a blanket) without missing even a single episode. Same way, I was asked not to read any spam emails when I initially started using internet and since then I have read each and every spam emails. The subject line ‘This is not a spam’ gathered my attention. I took a look at the sender’s name – Kapil Bhakshi – same surname as that of mine. I do not know when I clicked the mouse – I was already reading the email.

As I read through the email, I realized that it is not a spam; instead it had some really serious stuff in it. Apparently, it seemed like Kapil’s parents and my parents were talking to each other and they wanted us to know each other. This was a real shaky. I could not recall my parents talking about anything like this. Moreover, I was pretty sure my father did not share my personal email ID to anyone. I immediately took my cell phone and started dialing my calling card, but later stopped realizing the time-zone difference. The difference in time zone also meant I had good enough time in hand to study the situation. I read through Kapil’s email again.

‘Is this really a spam? But how could I get a spam from a person with a same surname as mine? Can’t be… this cannot be a spam’. Disheveled thoughts were swiveling in my mind. Kapil had not revealed any details about him. He had mentioned that he does not want to bore me with all his details and I can get it if I wish from FaceBook. The spy in me was alert. I opened my Facebook account and opened Kapil’s profile. It did not have any details except for the fact that he is from a medical college.

Medical college??? I always thought my parents were looking for an engineer and not a doctor. My mother wanted me to study medicine. I never felt like studying medicine except for few days during my pre-university course while I was following ‘Sanjeevani’ – a serial about medical college and students. After my pre-university course, I was successful convincing my parents for engineering. My parents were fine by diverting their attention towards my brother. My brilliant brother got his admission in pre-university for computers. This means he did not opt for biology which in turn means NO to medicine. For a moment I was jolted. Probably my parents wanted to see a doctor in our family and so they went in search for Dr.Son-In-Law!!

I had ample time to study about Kapil. The spy in me had already logged into Linked-In. Kapil’s profile was very impressive. His linked-in profile had links which took me to a web-page detailing about the noble cause Kapil was working for which could bring a difference to Indian history of medicine. The spy in me was busy surfing for his profiles all over the internet and various social networking and within an hour or so, I had learnt a lot about Kapil. I wonder what I am doing in a servicing industry. I deserve to be in Central Bureau of Investigation.

Tik Tik Tik… It was 8 am at home when I called my parents. I spoke to them about Kapil’s email. My parents were a little surprised and confused. They were not aware of talking about alliance for any doctor and moreover they had not shared my email address to anyone. My father asked me to give his contact number to Kapil so that he can talk to him and the confusion clarified.

‘So was this a spam?’ I asked my dearest friend ‘or a mere co-incidence?’ ‘It could be possible that one of your uncles is talking to Kapil’s parents and your parents are unaware of it’ she said. ‘Ask him to share his family details and that may help your parents to relate’.

That sounds good to me. I replied back to Kapil showing an interest to know about his family. I also shared my fathers contact number and asked him to talk to him. My cell phone started buzzing. ‘Hey Diya!! Hurry up yaar. We all are waiting’ and I rushed to get ready.

Next day morning I got up to see my lappy blinking. I logged in to see couple of new emails and my eyes caught Kapil’s name. I took a deep breath and opened his email. This time there were details about his family. His father studied in Mumbai and had settled there ever since. His mom and my mother were classmates. He has a younger brother who is doing just completed his engineering. Again there were neither any detail about his native location nor he had mentioned his parent’s name.

The state of confusion was lingering me now. My mother could not recall any of her friends whose son was a doctor. Moreover she could not recollect any of her friends staying in Mumbai. I wanted to get this clarified now. There could be only two possibilities. One there is a big confusion or two someone is playing a prank with me.

I did not take any long route this time. My message was direct. I told Kapil that my parents are not aware of this proposal and it could be one of my relatives – uncle, aunt, mama, mamy, grandpa who is talking to his parents and I want to get this clarified before we could proceed with any conversations.

I waited for Kapil’s reply. I was curious to know what exactly is going on. The uncertainty was killing me within. Emails from Zorpia, Amazon, E-billme were flooding my inbox. I patiently deleted them and waited for the Kapil’s email.

I did not receive any email till noon. A friend of mine invited to her house for an informal girls party. I went there and momentarily forgot about the whole spam incident. I had a nice time chatting, munching, gossiping and doing all the girls stuff. It was late in the evening when I started walking towards my apartment. I do not know why but I could feel my heart pounding. I was going to unveil the mystery of the day.

I opened the apartment door and rushed to my lappy and logged in. There was this ‘not a spam’ subject line blinking. I was just one click away from the truth – a truth that can take me out of the uncertainty.. a truth that can bring back the feeling of weekend.

‘Hold on. Did you say - alliance? I'm afraid your fear was right. I'm actually trying to reach out to a certain Diya Bhakshi,(who is incidentally known in my family circles) who is an upcoming Indian sushi chef and also slated to accompany me as an exchange student to Osaka, Japan (and hence all the introductions for the upcoming sushi contest in Japan). I guess that you are not the person I'm trying to reach. I'm so sorry that you had to bear with this inadvertent spam. I hope I didn't disrupt/distract in your search for alliance. All the best!’
I went numb reading Kapil’s reply. I could not believe that I had duped myself. I was trying to understand what made me conclude that Kapil’s email was about an alliance. And moreover where did this Sushi come from? Was I a bit too stereotypic about emails from unknown person with my surname? There was a big mess created and I was not sure whether to laugh at it or just meditate to come out of it. Whatever it is, I realized that I was out of the uncertainty which almost killed me.

I was a little embarrassed as I typed a reply to Kapil. I could not reply to him immediately. I slept, took a nap and then thought of replying back.

‘Thanks for the clarification. I am not a sushi chef (not at all a good cook) and the tone of your email asking us to know each other bla bla bla made me feel to think like that. I am glad that we got it clarified.’

I read the email twice before I could send it. I did not want to create unnecessary myths around this conversation. I sent the email and went back to sleep.

It was just a weekend but it seemed too long. There was lot of havoc in my mind that had disturbed my mental balance. How can there be such a mis-communication? What is a doctor doing in Sushi competition? Is he really a doctor? He never told me that. I searched in various networking sites for Kapil Bhakshi and concluded he is a doctor. It can be possible that he is a chef. But the email ID on the networking sites are the same that I received. Could it be that cooking is just his hobby? The spy in me was somehow not convinced with this whole Sushi incident. In the meanwhile, I also found a friend request in orkut with subject line ‘Beta version – Kapil’.

Next day there was again an email in the inbox. It was Kapil again. As regards japanese cuisine he asked me not to sweat over it. He mentioned sushi is as good as the wasabi and we Indians can make awesome wasabi. I had no clue what ‘wasabi’ was. The spy in me was asking me to google for it, so that I will know what sect of people has this in their dish. I had decided not to listen to the spy in me and did not bother to search for it. I was pretty sure it is not a dish from my sect.

That evening I saw a friend request from Kapil on Facebook. I did not want to accept it before I knew the fact. I immediately replied to Kapil with a subjet line ‘Version cannot be upgraded’. I had lot of confusion and I wanted them to be clarified. I guess I my tone was a bit stern and I received the reply.

‘Here's the thing:
This is a total co-incidence and I guess we were both "fooled by randomness". It turns out: My folks were talking to this certain Diya Bhakshi’s family for alliance and stuff. My brother and my folks sent me a orkut profile link -saying this was that Diya to whom I was supposed to get in touch with. I did not double check this information and emailed rightaway. I had no idea that I was inadvertently emailing the wrong Diya (you). I was a little quizzed when you asked me to speak to your folks, because our parents were already speaking to each other. So that’s the real truth.’

I re-read the email. Sushi-wasabi was all prank and the mystery was unveiled. My own name had become my nightmare. This was the third time I was duped by my own name. My overseas bank was a bit hesitant to open an account without an SSN number since there was already a Diya Bhakshi in their system. Next time it was in SSN office. My request was rejected since there was another request with same first name and last name. And the third time a real freaky. I asked Kapil to let me know once he meets the Diya Bhakshi that he was looking for.

Weeks passed and I did not hear back from Kapil. But I received a call from my uncle ‘Diya, when did you pass your engineering?’ The degree passed out year can always be used to derive your year of birth and so the story goes on.