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City Search ’07

When in doubt, Google. All of us now turn to this Internet search engine for answers to all of life’s questions. It is the fountain of all knowledge — or the closest thing we have to it — throwing up sites that will give you the recipe for the perfect cheesecake, the size of John Abraham’s biceps, the number of runs Sachin scored in 1991…

If Google is the repository of all information, what we want to draw out of it should tell us quite a bit about ourselves. And now we know.

The “first-ever annual Google Zeitgeist (spirit of the times) report for India” is out, and it did not “simply retrieve the most frequently searched terms for the period” but instead “looked for those search terms that grew tremendously in 2007”. It also tells us that Calcutta Google-searches for Sachin more than Sourav, that the city is interested in Nandigram, Durga Puja, books, and Calcutta itself.

It examined “the fastest rising and highest volume search terms” that users from India have been submitting to Google, this year, explains Vinay Goel, product head, Google India. Three-four per cent of India’s population is online, which translates to about 30-50 million users, most of them in the age category of 18-30, according to external studies.

Fast-rising search queries in 2007 (The “hot hits” of this year)

1. Orkut

2. YouTube

3. Gmail

4. Map

5. Google

6. Indian Railways

7. Yahoo Mail

8. Technology

9. Yahoo

10. Zapak

Google-speak: “The Internet is getting more socially extended. If you look at the list, at the higher level, people are moving towards social networking sites like Orkut. Next up is communication… emailing is a big activity for people, which explains the presence of Gmail and Yahoo Mail. People are also looking for information so maps and Indian Railways for PNR and train-related services and technology make it to the Zeitgeist list. People are looking for specific knowledge — you can call it information or education. Games also feature in the top 10,” says Goel.

Searching for Google once you are on Google is something that “stumps you a bit” but “there are different ways that people use it, like moving from iGoogle (Google’s customised homepage) to Google,” he adds.

On Facebook, a fast-growing social networking site, and a competitor of Orkut (owned by Google) not making it to the list, Goel says: “While Facebook is popular and to my belief is getting more popular, it didn’t make it to the top-10 list but might show up in the top 50”.

Top 10 Bollywood celebrities

1. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

2. Salman Khan

3. Hrithik Roshan

4. Katrina Kaif

5. Shah Rukh Khan

6. Mallika Sherawat

7. Priyanka Chopra

8. Kareena Kapoor

9. Rani Mukerji

10. Deepika Padukone

Top 10 movies

1. Spider-Man

2. Sivaji

3. Dhoom: 2

4. Om Shanti Om

5. Chak De! India

6. Saawariya

7. Harry Potter

8. Ghost Rider

9. Bhool Bhulaiyaa

10. Jhoom Barabar Jhoom

Google-speak: “Entertainment is a big category and people are going to the Internet to download,” says Goel. Films that have an online presence topped the search, like Spider-Man and Om Shanti Om, which were “movies that had a fair amount of online marketing”.

Many Bolly stars have their own websites too like Mallika and Aamir Khan. “The interesting thing about Deepika Padukone is that her search popularity had a lot to do with OSO,” says the product head.

Actresses dominate the list of Bollywood celebrities searched for. “According to studies done by other agencies, the Internet has a higher percentage of male users.”

t2 watch: Ash and Salman remain united in the virtual world — the first couple among Bolly searches. Hubby Abhishek doesn’t even make the list!

Top 10 places of interest

1. Kerala

2. Singapore

3. Goa

4. Australia

5. London

6. Dubai

7. Rajasthan

8. Jaipur

9. Kashmir

10. Ooty

Google-speak: “There are many Indian holiday destinations in the top places that people are searching for. Kerala tops the list. Since Zeitgeist, which means ‘spirit of the times’, is a leading indication of what is getting popular, it could mean that Kashmir is re-emerging as a holiday destination,” points out Goel.

t2 watch: Backwaters beats Orchard Road and feni as Indians go far and wide, many dreaming up holidays, some making the dream come true.

Top 10 political leaders

1. Mahatma Gandhi

2. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

3. Sonia Gandhi

4. Indira Gandhi

5. Rabindranath Tagore

6. Pratibha Patil

7. Subhash Chandra Bose

8. Rahul Gandhi

9. Sarojini Naidu

10. Mayawati

Google-speak: “Munnabhai and Gandhigiri could be reasons driving some of this, as well as student searches,” says Goel, explaining Mahatma Gandhi in pole position. “Many freedom fighters also feature in the list,” he adds.

t2 watch: If Obelix had seen this list he would have gone “(tap, tap) These Indians must be crazy.” What else would explain Mahatma Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the same list, with Mayawati keeping Sarojini Naidu company?

Top 10 sports stars

1. Sania Mirza

2. Maria Sharapova

3. Sachin Tendulkar

4. John Cena

5. David Beckham

6. Cristiano Ronaldo

7. Rahul Dravid

8. Mahendra Singh Dhoni

9. Sourav Ganguly

10. Anna Kournikova

Google-speak: “There are quite a few tennis players and the other popular sports stars are from cricket and football,” says Goel.


These are “trend-based search terms” in comparison with Mumbai and Delhi; numbers are not indicative of ranks

1) Our own city — “People in Calcutta are more interested in reading about their city than people in Mumbai or Delhi.”

2) Literature — In keeping with stereotypes, Calcuttans “love to read about literature because they are interested in reading books, which featured in the search list”.

3) Nandigram — We “wanted to learn about Nandigram” because it was in the news. It was one of the top-searched items in Calcutta but not so much outside the city.

4) Orkut is more popularly searched in Calcutta than in Mumbai or Delhi.

5) Other “top nuances” that emerged in Calcutta’s search data is a love for Durga Puja and Mithun Chakraborty.

No hit: Calcutta didn’t search for stocks and finance which “hardly ever showed up”.

t2 watch: We are like that only.

t2 watch: Sania’s sex appeal scores over Beckham’s. Maria’s legs over Sachin’s leg glance — yes, sports is a man’s world!

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