Love in the time of Orkut!

Love in the time of Orkut!

On September 30, Orkut will cease to exist, unable to withstand the far snazzier, cooler social networks that have come to dominate the realms of the virtual-social world.

Named after its founder, Orkut Büyükkökten, a Turkish software developer working for Google, the social network has announced that it will allow its users to export their scraps, photos and community pages for some more time. “What I would not be able to export would be my memories associated with the website”, says 26-year-old Zeeshan Mohammed Khan, a marketing manager in Hyundai.
 “I met my first girlfriend through the site in 2009. The relationship ended with the downfall of Orkut and coming over of Facebook.”

Quite popular in the subcontinent during its heydays, Orkut was different from modern-day Facebook. People used to write more about themselves, with innovative about me’s, stylish and many a times loud scraps, and were more open to talking to strangers. But, best were the profile names.

You could send a friendship request to ‘I aM tHe KwEeN oF mAh wOrLD’ or get impressed by some dude proclaiming “I aM UnDeR ReHaB”. Then there were “YoU tOoK aWaY mAh hEaRt tO bReAk iT”, one or two “In love with myself” or even “Church Robbers”.

“In my ‘about me’, I was a Jason Bourne-inspired amnesiac ex-CIA agent, who had lost his memory while saving his girl, whom he is now looking to find through Orkut. It was corny and childish, but believe it or not, people actually read and liked it. I used to get a lot of friend requests. In fact, one of my school friends actually stole my ‘about me’,” says 25-year-old Vikas.

“My Facebook ‘about me’ is blank. I don’t read anybody else’s profile. Who will read mine?”, he adds.

A very ‘dangerous’ feature of Orkut was that people could see who last visited their profile. “For me, this was one of the most interesting features. People actually used to check others profiles and pictures”, says Jyotika Cheema who stopped using Orkut in 2010, as Facebook “was more in fashion”.

There was also another option in Orkut, which people may remember long after it’s gone : The testimonials. “They were kind of heart-warming tributes friends used to write for each other,” says Aamir Khan, an MBA student.

“I was trying to impress a girl, and actually used to blackmail my friends to write good testimonials for me, so that she could see those. However, a friend of the same girl actually started chatting with me. She later became my girlfriend”, he adds.

This is not just a one-off story. In fact, Orkut had earned the distinction of being a dating site of sorts. There were communities in which love  actually used to make its presence felt.

“I was part of my school community in which people used to play games on community pages. There was this former classmate of mine who always used to tease and take me on in every conversation. One day, he sent me a friend request, I accepted it and the rest is history. I married the same guy last year”, says Suman Sharma, working for a multinational company in Gurgaon.

Her husband, Sonu, shares: “When I used to chat with Suman, one of my teachers taunted that I can’t make a girl fall in love with me through Orkut-workut. When we decided to marry, the first wedding invitation went to the same teacher.”

Punit Kumar says Orkut was integral to his story as well. “In those days, I used to connect to Orkut through a very slow internet connection to talk to a girl, Surabhi. We used to chat long hours, and love blossomed between us. Now, our parents have given their approval and we are looking to get married soon.”

Surabhi too recounts her own experience. “My relationship was a secret from my elder sister with whom I shared my room. She routinely used to go to her tuitions in the evenings. That was the time when he would be waiting for me to come online,” she says with a smile.

As Orkut fades into the sunset, there are only a handful who are really going to miss this out-dated social network. Meeting new people and starting random conversations is passé. Most of us prefer the social networks which are designed to confine us to just the happenings in the life of our existing ‘friends’.

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