From 1985 to 2015 middle class Indians went from having to go to a public telephone exchange to make telephone calls to grannies arguing the merits of Skype vs FaceTime. This was my childhood, my teens and my early 20s. In a memorable span of 5 years I went from having my life changed because of my family acquiring a cordless phone to learning to sext. And in the next five years things I adored for opening up the world for me also disappeared: Hotmail, the early years of OK Cupid, Yahoo Messenger, Rediff chat rooms. I had a year of micro-fame because a Facebook campaign I started went viral, one of the earliest viral campaigns in India. More recently I had a surreal moment of talking to Gamergate survivors at a Harvard conference about online misogyny and finding myself saying almost shamefacedly that despite running a feminist platform, I am not harassed by Twitter trolls.
And these unexpected stories of a country relishing and resisting technology and globalisation is what I write about in these stories. A woman in Mumbai who becomes obsessed with a dead woman’s online relics, a writer in Bangalore who gets stuck in a strange (and familiar) troll wars, a cook in Delhi who wonders whether her daughter’s cellphone is making her insane, a classical musician who finds a prince in Thiruvananthapuram and three dancers in Kochi in the 1990s who mastermind their sex lives in a conservative community.
The short stories in this collection tap into the rich vein of love, violence, intimacy and strangeness that technology, particularly the Internet, has brought to the lives of Indians over the last two decades.
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