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The next best thing

Bijoy AK | February 13, 2003 13:33 IST

How couples are planning to celebrate their long distance love online this Valentine's Day

Whenever February 14 arrives, Naren Gupta's eyes take on a wistful look. Currently in Mumbai, the software engineer from Bangalore stares into space, smiles dreamily, and caresses his PC in much the same way you and I reach out to stroke our pet dogs. Valentine's Day does that to Naren because it was around that time, a year ago, that he received email from a complete stranger.

It was a strange sort of message, from a girl who appeared to know a great deal about him. She ended by wishing him good luck for an upcoming interview in a major software firm. A thoroughly confused Naren asked everyone he knew about the message, assuming it was some sort of prank. It wasn't. A second mail soon arrived, with an apology. It turned out the girl was at a cyber café a while ago and happened to look through Naren's resume when he went there to print it!

Naren thanked the girl for her wishes, began emailing regularly and finally met her on Valentine's Day. . Now, with another February 14 approaching, Naren misses his ladylove.

The only way out is, as always, the Internet. "Since we are away from each other and I can't visit Bangalore right now, we are going to be together online right through the day. After all, it was Internet that brought us together. I have created a special Web site based on our relationship and will ask her to visit it on February 14."

Naren is not alone. Karthik, a Pune-based mechanical engineer is planning something online too, as a surprise for his girlfriend studying in Australia. He plans to send her all the chat sessions they have had between them. "I started saving our messages for fun and it soon became a habit. Now, they make me nostalgic and I hope they will rekindle the past in her too, when she receives them."

For others, it's a blog to the rescue. Nitya Das, a student of law from Kochi, intends to unveil a special Web log dedicated to her boyfriend in the US. What's the link, I ask her. "It's private," she replies, smiling.

So much for long-distant lovers, Mumbai-based communications engineer Alvin Pinto has decided to propose online! He met Sophia, a management student, on a professional tour to Sydney. "I feel awkward doing it on the telephone, so I think chatting on Valentine's Day is the way." All the best, Alvin!

Then there's Net telephony, which has come as a shot in the arm for the likes of Arun, whose partner is studying in America. "For people like us, the Internet is a part of life. Nowadays, I use the PC-to-phone option too, as it's the most economical option available." Not that it works for everyone though. "Net telephony calls for privacy and enough pocket money," quips eighteen-year-old Suhani. "I definitely miss my boyfriend's voice, but I plan to send him my collection of love poems and a flurry of ecards."

The Internet that plays a huge role in the lives of people like Naren, Karthik, Nitya, Alvin and Arun. For them, it is more than just a system of wires and hypertext mark-up language. It's a matchmaker and a reliable friend. The next best thing to meeting someone face to face. And an only option when a thousand miles separate two people in love.

(Names changed on request)



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