By the time I reached Mughal Sarai Junction it was 2.30 AM. I was on way to Varanasi to take a morning flight and the time wasn’t appropriate to knock at my sister’s doors in the city of Ghats, So, I decided to spend an hour or two in the jam packed common waiting room, thanks to delayed trains on the route. It was here that Parmanand Yadav from a village near Bhadohi ( I would know the name and place in due course) probably impressed by me charging my phone through a power bank approached me and without any prologue asked me a very straight forward question; “आप फ्रीचार्ज यूज करते हैं ?” I decided to play along and said; “हाँ क्या हुआ?” This came as reply; “मेरा 500 खा गया सब.”
Assuming there was a transaction failure, I tried reassuring him that the money would be back in his account. All 500 of it. “100 का तो रिचार्ज कर चुका हूँ मैं, बाकी 400 दिखा नही रहा”; he said. On deeper probing I realised that he had created two different accounts using two different emails, forgot password and couldn’t verify mobile number to login to the first one where he had added money. I couldn’t help him much and asked him to write a bad review on Google Play & their Facebook in addition to his other efforts. “गूगल प्ले पर रिव्यु कैसे लिखते हैं ?”; he was intrigued. Helped him with it and a man who had lost Rs 400 for then and was waiting for probably hours for a train in wee hours had a happy expression; “चलिए कुछ नया सीखा.”
A few hours before this, I was in Buxar (Bihar) at my cousins place, a person who is lot more tech savvy for an hour or so. Given we were meeting after more than 18 months, there was much to talk about. Still the conversation got stirred towards e-commerce. Because of some issues with his Snapdeal app, he was not able to proceed ahead to the order page. He was trying to buy a feature phone for badi maa. I helped him login to the mobile site,completed order, took screenshot of the page he was stuck at and sent it to folks at Snapdeal. Once done with it, I asked him why doesn’t he rather go to one of the stores in the town. With a sense of pride he pronounced; “समय कहाँ मिलता है भाई और ये ज्यादा सहूलियत वाला काम है. ऑफर भी बढ़िया देता है सब.”
Only 15 mins before this, I had had my must dosage of scolding everytime I meet him from my 75 year old बड़का बाबूजी; “हमार फ्रेंड रिक्वेस्ट काहें नइखे एक्सेप्ट करत रे तू फेसबुक पर? (Why are you not accepting my FB friend request?)”. I tried reasoning; “I hardly check FB”. I was countered; “Shut up, you have posted two ‘public’ updates since my request.”
A day before this, I stopped at this small tea shop on way back from Kamakhya temple in Ghazipur district of east up to my bordering village in Bihar. Two 14-15 year old lads at this place were discussing video calling on an app called IMO and data it consumes.
A day earlier, I had gone to खलिहान with a neighbour, Chandan. This guy asked me to click a picture of his. Once I was done, he asked; “गमछा ठीक से आइल बा न? (How is the gamcha in the click)”. I asked him; “why is it that important?” Got the answer; “हमनी के किसान के ना बेटा हईं जा, गमछा सान ह (Its the pride of farmers sons like us)”. After this he gave me his “whatsapp number” to send that image. I did. Within seconds I was added to two groups – “मित्रों का अड्डा” and “अखिल भारतीय नवयुवक संघ”. Both groups have almost same set of people. While “Mitron ka Adda” has mindless forwards coming in, same people exercise constraints in the other group which is for a purpose. There is Discipline in conduct.
Sometime in between all these, I also helped a friend decide which shoes to buy on Amazon which was paid for by card & not COD. That when delivery was not available in Buxar. He had a Patna address saved on his app as well.
If in 4-5 days one has so many encounters with a drift of change in the hinterlands, it becomes difficult to not ponder why does the narrative builders with offices in Noida don’t have such experiences? Why do they unfailingly miss it all .
Interesting Trivia : In the same village where I heard about IMO app, Ravish Kumar in the run of 2014 had asked 4 people the question; “कउन जात हो ?”
Disclaimer : This is an article based on personal experiences & the writer or lopak have no data to back it as a national phenomenon. May be that is how OpEds are written in mainstream but we happily choose to take the road not taken.
By – Panchdeo Pandey (@ruppanbabu)