By Anu Chitrapu
INDIA New England News Columnist
There was a New York Times article that talked about how desis love to wish each other good morning, no matter which part of the world you were in, with no regard for whether it really was morning or not.
When I mentioned the article to my friends/relatives in India, instead of laughing they looked at me like the punch line was yet to come! They could not figure out why the “GM” wishes were article worthy. And now after receiving millions of not just GMs, but GMs with pictures of filter coffee with steam above the steel ‘dabra tumbler’ (traditional South Indian style), or a picture of a lovely red rose (I think I missed the modern interpretation of that because in my middle age I was not expecting red rose greetings from so many people), a picture of a mommy kangaroo with a baby in its pouch (go figure) and many more such creative messages, I have come to expect these GM messages when I turn on my phone in the morning, evening or night.
In fact, if I don’t receive a GM message in more than 5 hours, I turn my phone off and on again just to make sure it is working!
I love my friends and relatives but have to admit many of the messages leave me puzzled and scratching my head. Like the weekly message from my dear cousin wherein he never fails to send me the senior citizen deals on Indian Railways. Yes really! He knows I live in Boston and hopefully remembers I am not yet a senior citizen – I agree I have senior moments and the gray hairs are rapidly taking over but still …
Then there are some who have taken the “sharing is caring” to an extreme level. Any message they receive has to be forwarded and shared immediately. More often than not they receive the message back in a day or two. And if one of these trigger happy people happen to be in more than one of your groups, be ready to receive the same in duplicate.
The strangest WhatsApp group I was made part of was one with my tailor! She added me to a group where the other person was someone she referred to as “Master” – send your blouse measurements to Master, she typed. I stared at the phone wondering how to respond till she typed back ??? I quickly shut off WhatsApp and called her on the phone and asked if I could give her the measurements because I was a little embarrassed to give them to master. “What ya”, she exclaimed. “Just WhatsApp ya.” And so I proceeded to type …
Many resourceful people are now using WhatsApp as a free sales platform (watch out Shopify). But once you order an item from them be ready for an onslaught of new product pictures at the rate of one/minute. And if you agree to be added to their customer group, you will not only receive a product notification every minute, it will be followed by several messages that say PP for price please (what an unfortunate acronym). I don’t know about others, but turning on my phone to see the letters PP, PP, PP … repeated several times does not make my morning a GM at all.
Then there are those moments where by mistake you send something to the wrong person. Like the time, someone I know who shall remain nameless, was not wearing her glasses and proceeded to send a passport photo selfie of herself to 5 different people as she was searching in her contacts for the person she meant to send it to. She promptly received several messages back like “GM maam, thank you maam” from the guy who maintained the inverter; “May the divine be with you today and everyday,” from a devout relative; “What size maam” from Master; a thumbs up from an unknown (that was kind of creepy); and a phone call from a real cousin who asked if everything was ok! Needless to say, this person has since deleted WhatsApp from their phone.
The best part of WhatsApp is that there is no competition for likes which takes away the motivation for brags! So it really is just for connecting for business, staying in touch with long lost friends, sharing your life with your relatives or service providers on purpose or in error … so next time you see a picture of Goddess Durga with “remover of evil” written across or Christ on a cross with a message from an apostle for you or a kangaroo with a baby in its pouch (this one I swear I have seen more than 50 times now) don’t get annoyed or irritated; just remember, “Sharing is Caring”. And whenever you are feeling down reach for your phone and say to yourself, “What ya, WhatsApp ya.”