The divine network
Ogo shunchho?” Shib taps away at the keyboard of his PC. Without looking up from the screen he continues, “Ei listen na, I’m on takemytrip.com…any preferences?”
Before Durga can answer, little Ganesh pipes up: “Baba, Baba…Elephant Airways amar favourite, please book that. They have those special meals for pets. Mr Mouse lo---ves them.”
“Thik achhey, that’s what we’ll fly,” Durga says, smiling indulgently at her young one.
“Aachha, fine, but wait a second, their return flight on the 10th is full up. In fact…nothing seems avail…wait, Air Palanquin has seats available.”
“Oh, I hate them…fell sick last time.”
“No choice, Uma,” Shib says, “sorry.”
“Ufff, really baba…” Durga is annoyed.
Just then Kartik walks in and she forgets her annoyance. “Ma, see na, I used that modelling portfolio pic that I got done yesterday as my DP on FB and I have over 4,000,000 ‘likes’already.”
“Dekhi? Really handsome! Kar chhele dekhte hobey — my son after all!”
“All dhanai-panai nonsense!” says Kartik’s bespectacled sister Saraswati. “You’re so vain, you should click a peacock for your profile pic.”
“Tui chup kor!,” Kartik retorts. “You’re jealous because your only ‘love interest’ is your e-book reader. With those undersides of bottles for glasses, who will…”
“Shoru, Kattik, can you two keep it down! Before we leave Koilash, I’ve got to finish up my world market predictions…” Lakshmi says firmly. “And believe me that’s tough. It was the US that used to set the standard and poor countries like India would struggle to keep up. Now everything’s backwards!”
Shib asks, “Haan re amar Lokkhi Meye, what was the URL of your blog again?”
“Baba, it’s wiseowlwealthtips.blog-spot.com…I’ll send you the link… but why…?”
“Nandi and Bhringi lost a lot of money in…yeh, maney, aaa — global recession,” Shib mumbles. “I, uh, want them to take your guidance…”
Durga cuts Shib off mid-sentence. “What? Those two good-for-nothing chelas of yours? Akkebarey na! All that money actually got blown on your nesha, your…your intoxication!”
Durga stops her harangue abruptly. She claps her forehead. “ Hori, that reminds me, I forgot to pay the credit card bill for our pujo shopping — all those ensembles I picked up from Sabyasachi’s...boddo daam, so costly baba!”
Kartik says, “I’ll do it right now on my phone, just give me your password Ma….”
Durga beams. “Kattik shona… so smart. If only I had asked you to do the travel bookings as well!” She looks askance at Shib. But he is immune to her jibes.
Durga looks at her wristwatch. “Look at the time! Jayee, I have to pack.”
Ganesh: “Ma, I want to take ALL my toys with me to play with on the flight.”
“But how will I carry so much? The hand luggage limit is one per person, shona. Of course, I always fight with the airlines about that — if they allow one for others, in my case they should permit five! Anyway, why don’t you just take your PlayStation Portable? That should keep you occupied.”
“Great idea, Ma!” says Ganesh happily. “But aren’t videogames bad for kids?” Shib objects.
“No, no, quite the contrary — the latest research proves they can actually do good. Tumi kichhu jano na!” says Durga sharply.
Saraswati interrupts them, saying, “Oh look, there’s a tweet from Ram.” She reads out from a tablet. “It’s a direct message to Ma Durga… ‘One eye is all I need to see, I dedicate the other to you. Think of it as the 108th lotus.’”
Blushing, Durga says, “Oh Shoru, what are you doing with my tablet! No wonder I couldn’t find it. Anyway, it’s very touching. That Ram is such a sweet boy.”
Shib mutters, “Hanh, very sweet, you changed your holiday plans from Spring to Autumn, just for him.”
“Tumi ar bolo na! Thanks to you that Oshur has become such a menace! Do you know that he is the one behind blocking Wikileaks and distorting facts on Wikipedia? Amar ga joley jai! This time I’m really going to get him. If he knows what’s good for him, he’d better buy himself some online insurance real quick! And stop grinning like that — it’s not as if he’s sparing you. He infected your bhanga-chora old PC with his virus and that’s why our trip bookings got held up till the eleventh hour!”
Lakshmi suppresses a smile. “Ma, have you checked out the fanpage Ram created for you on Facebook? And the pujo on his website Okalbodhon.com is lovely too — you can tell how, uh, devoted he is to you! By the way, the online pujo ends with some gorgeous zero-calorie prosad.”
“Oh, I didn’t know,” says Durga, doing a very bad job of feigning disinterest. To change the topic, she resumes her bickering with Shib. “If you had booked earlier, I could have tweeted my travel plans on time. You know how important that is for the folks back home….Everything has been crazy ebar. I didn’t even get to hear ‘Mahishasur Mardini’ on Mahalaya. Lakshmi, I’m going to borrow your iPod on the flight and listen to it.”
Kartik says, “But Ma, don’t you get bored of the same thing year after year!”
“No. That’s what tradition is about, moni,” Durga smiles.
“Yes, but imagine how amazing it would be if one of the Bangla rock brands reinterpreted it,” Kartik enthuses.
“Mr Bhadra makes it all sound so grand…who will match him!” Durga has an adoring look in her eyes.
Kartik shakes his head. “You really are sounding old-fashioned! I don’t get it, Mother! On the one hand you are so into the whole Internet thing yet...”
Durga interrupts him. “Maybe that should tell you something! I adopt the good things of every era…and I do enjoy good contemporary music. It’s just that — for a place that prides itself on culture — you’d expect a little better than the musical fare we get nowadays in Kolkata. You know, those cheesy filmi numbers like ‘Dhaker taley komor doley’. Of course, I loved ‘Joy Maa Durga’ last year. Bhoomi rocks — from Malda to Montreal! See, it was the Net that helped their talent go beyond borders. BTW, Mr Kartik, I like the way Bhoomi wished their fans Shubho Bijoya online. Do you think I should do it too? You could shoot a video on your phone and directly upload it to Youtube.”
“Yeah, sure,” says Karthik absently as he is back to playing with some other feature on his favourite toy. “I’m going to track our entire journey from Koilash to Kolkata…Google Maps is too cool! You know our place at Koilash shows up on it. You can also locate Dadu-Didun’s house on it, and it shows you the whole route map! Also, when we go pandal-hopping, we won’t get lost like we did that time! I wonder when they’re going to start doing augmented reality pujos!”
Ganesh asks, “Ma, is Kola-bou going to be there in Kolkata? I do miss playing with her!”
“Yes, of course she will be. You will have your companion as usual.” Durga replies.
Lakshmi looks up from her laptop with a mischievous look. “With the green movement gaining ground I think Kola-bou is becoming more and more popular — so you better be nice to her Gonu, else someone might whisk her away!”
Tears well up in Ganesh’s big eyes. Lakshmi bites her tongue. “Arre, just teasing baba, Kola will never leave you!”
Durga strokes his head. “Kandey na. Smile!”
Ganesh instantly cheers up and makes a trumpeting sound. He says, “I want to start a green festival!”
“Good boy! You are always starting good things.” Durga approves.
Saraswati hugs Ganesh. “Let’s start an online movement, Gonu. I’ll help you. After all there are over 50 million Indians on the Net! If we reach them with our message, they can lead the movement. In fact we can follow the crowd-sourcing model.”
“Aan? Crowd-sourcing maney ki?” asks Ganesh.
Saraswati explains, “We’ll ask people for their suggestions of how to make the festival eco-friendly and how best to use all the ‘chanda’ money that is collected! You and I can pick the best ideas!”
“Ooh, lovely….Let’s call it ShobujerObhijan.com.”
“Done! I’ll set it up right away.”
“And…and…I also want to launch Ganesh emoticons this time! Cool, na?!”
Durga, who had gone off to pack, returns and catches this. “How sweet. Ganesh emoticons! Make emoticons with your sisters’ faces and mine too! You know, Shoru, the thing I’m not happy about is that only a fifth of Internet users are women! You, Lakshmi and I must become role models to change that!”
“I agree!” says Saraswati.
Lakshmi says, “And, as they say, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Mobile-based Internet is the future. India-tey there are already 400 million mobile users. With the prices of smart phones coming down drastically, the number of people upgrading to them will grow. Then the real moja will start!”
Ganesh asks, “Ki moja! That’s why Akshay Kumar is laughing like that in the cell phone ad, tai na?”
“Hanh shona,” Durga responds. “But Lakshmi isn’t it irritating that the signal is so bad at Koilash? Becomes impossible to make a call, forget all the fancy stuff…!”
At that moment Durga’s tablet rings. The ring tone goes ‘Victory to you darling daughter of the mountain, victory to you, slayer of Mahish…’
“Hello?” Durga answers her call. Her face slowly turns an angry shade of red. “Bodmaish kothakarer, I’m going to locate you with my cell phone locator and then…Hello, hello….Dead!”
Concerned, Shib asks, “Who was that?”
“Who else? That blasted Oshur! He confirmed my worst suspicions! He’s been tampering with our cell tower and before hanging up he said he was destroying it altogether…and then the phone went dead. Dead!”
Shib says, “I…I’ll do something about it.”
“Tumi…? Forget it, if need be I’ll take Ram’s help! And I think it’s high time I upgrade from my trident, discus and komondulu! I’m going to use anti-virus, cloud computing and 3G to neutralise that oshobbho Oshur!”
Kartik says, “Now you’re talking, Mom. Mrs D. Thakur, you truly are a goddess!”
An enigmatic smile plays on Durga’s lips. All her eyes gaze into the middle distance. “The WWW is the most divine thing to come out of Earth in ages — it’s the closest thing to the OOO of divinity — Omnipresence, Omniscience, Omni-potence.” Her voice has an echo-y mantra-like quality to it as she speaks. “I’m not about to let the fourth — Oshur — destroy it! There is a real danger of the divine universality of the Net coming to an end — because walls are being put up, some by governments and some by commercial firms that want to profit from closed systems….and behind it all is the dark hand of that dastardly Oshur.”
Kartik says, “That’s why I like Android. It’s open. Anyone can use it, everyone’s developing apps for it!”
“This time I am going to use my Shakti to vanquish evil on the Net. Break down Oshur’s barriers. Make it accessible to all! Help improve lives with its boundless power! My people need me to do that,” says Durga, still in her trance-like state.
Shib wheels out everybody’s luggage. “Enough bhashon ogo! Better rush! With the jan- bahoner traffic jam, you’ll miss your flight. Then all your grand plans of awakening humanity to the sanatan dharma of the divine Internet, while eliminating its infernal foe, will come to naught!”
Durga snaps back to the here and now. She is amused at her husband’s annoyance. “Ogo, I might postpone my return this time. Onek kaaj, really too much work to do…oije, like that song, what are the words...?” she asks in a teasing tone.
Without waiting for an answer she walks out the door holding all her children’s hands.
She hums, “Tomar mortyo lokey boro kothin shomoi ebar jeona koilashey phirey! Don’t go back to Kailash, dear goddess, we really need you down here!’”