It was just another day at work for Amit Kumar. Deputed at one of the client locations in New York, he was just getting ready for work on a Saturday morning. All was well in his perfect world but he had no inkling of how it would come crashing down by the time he hit the sack in the evening. His movements were at a fast pace, as always. The rush to reach office for that coffee was overbearing and nothing could stop him from reaching work before time, not even the fact that he was wearing the same pair of socks for three days. He had to save every cent before going back to India in a couple of months, for his hand had been asked for, by Mr. Sharma from the neighbouring lane, for his daughter.
Amit was always the center of attention in the four lanes that made up Mohalla Ram Narayan. He would be the first one to be the proud owner of a kite that was pounced upon through the ingenious ‘langar’. The street dogs in the four lanes of Mohalla Ram Narayan were afraid of none but Amit Kumar, for he could make them run for kilometers, chasing them on his Hero Ranger. The pretty girls in the four lanes were forbidden by their parents to venture out of their homes, to protect them from the piercing Viveik Oberoi-like eyes of none other than Amit Kumar. He was known in the lands as far from the first lane to the fourth, as a doer. What he did, was know only to him, that too, at times.
As fate would have it, having slogged his behind for three years in one of the top three IT companies in India, surviving on bad office coffee, Amit Kumar was ushered into the confines of his Project Manager’s cubicle, one November evening in 2010. “You, my friend, are one of the most trusted lieutenants that I have. I see myself in you and it is with delight that I inform, that you, Amit Kumar, are the chosen one!”
Amit’s happiness knew no boundaries. He knew what the Project Manager was referring to. After an arduous wait, the verdict was out. Amit Kumar from Mohalla Ram Narayan would be on a flight to Amreeka in a week’s time. His Visa stamping was through and the tickets would be handed over to him in four days at the airport. “Pack your bags, Amit, you are going to the US!”, said the Project Manager.
In a matter of four days, Amit met every soul known to him, remotely, in the city of Bangalore. The photo-stream of him packing, his stamped Visa, his undies and what not, lit up his docile Facebook Timeline. He called up his ex-girlfriend, who had dumped him as he could not afford even a plate of Vada Sambhar at any of the numerous Shiv Sagars in the city of Sagars. He rubbed it in on the call and just before hanging up, said, “There’s a video on Facebook that I have just tagged you in, you would love it.” The video in concern was that of the supposed original Harlem Shake. His lady love from yesteryears unfriended him after getting the philosophical message from the video and till this point in narration, never sent him a friend request again.
Panning back to the current day, Amit cursed the awesome coffee at the office. He had now gotten used to litres of Starbucks that he used to down, as was evident from the pics uploaded by him on Facebook. This piece of code, that he had been working on for a month, had reached only 10,000 lines. The billing rates had to be justified and the on-site Lead wanted more lines of code. Amit started to curse his luck, the 100th time probably, in the over two years that he had been working on-site. But he was resilient. There was a brighter side to it. He would go out to the wild outback and have the time of his life this weekend, like the 108 weekends that he had partied out on town or visited far-off corners of the United States, as evident from his Facebook Timeline.
Amit headed back to his palatial dwelling place. He had rubbished his cousins when they asked him if it was true that four to five on-site engineers stay in a two-bedroom accommodation. Amit was not one of ‘them’. He was earning Green-bucks and he had the right to splurge. It is a totally separate connotation that he would gulp down coffee at work to save a few bucks, but he was the Starbucks guzzling cousin. Late at night, around 11.30 after a bout of binge drinking, he was fiddling with his Nexus 4 and then it happened. A click here and a click there resulted in a video of his palatial house being posted on Facebook. He was unaware of this and went to sleep.
A call at 4 AM from India woke him up. Groggy-eyed, he answered the call and it was his flat-mate from India, Raunak. All Amit could he was laughter and MCs and BCs with his name appended to them. He was in no mood for jokes on a Sunday morning. Raunak’s voice croaked from the other side and he said something that left Amit shell-shocked. “Kyun bey khajoor, bahut fotu khench ke daal raha tha itne time se. Kabhi Starbucks, kabhi yeh, kabhi woh. Aaj asliyat aayi saamne. Haramkhor!” (You little rascal! You used to post all those awesome photos all the time. At Starbucks, at this place and at that! You are out in the open today!).
Amit realised that something was not right. He logged on to Facebook and was flabbergasted to see what was waiting for him. His friends mocked him for living in a one-room apartment with four other techies. His cousins’ dreams of visiting Amit bhaiya were shattered and he was thrown out of the Facebook Group that his childhood buddies had created for ‘Mohalla Ram Narayan’. Amit was all alone. Then it came back to him, all of it, like the credits at the end of Hangover (the movie). The scheduled Facebook image posts on each Monday, all taken from the places he could visit during the once-in-six-months day’s break, and spread over six months of Facebook time. The reality hit him and it hit him hard. Hi world of cards came crashing down and he was at a loss of words.
With his head held in his palms, he heard a notification, a distinct notification. It was a friend request from his ex-lover. Should he accept it or should he not? His mind was performing algorithmic calculations at the speed of light and he deduced that it cannot get worse than this. He accepted the friend request and wowed to re-build his world of cards, this time, with the screen-lock on.