Listen To Mr. Jim

So, I get this weird email this afternoon. Here’s the screenshot:

Email Screenshot

First of all, who the fuck are you to call me “Sirs”? I may look like I’ve eaten 3 people but I’m just one person. So, when you begin your email with a fat joke, I immediately assume you’re an idiot.

So, when you send me an email saying you have submitted MY domain name to Mr. Jim even though he has advised you to move on to another, then you’re really pissing me off. Listen to Mr. Jim, asshole. Move along. This domain is NOT for sale, rent or lease. Unless you are willing to pay a ridiculously high amount of money for it.

Shit, I’d be disappointed is this were spam. Oye, Jiang Zhihai! Are you for real? I need two suitcases full of money in cash if you want this domain name. Let’s make the exchange in a dark alley wearing overcoats and hats, while ominous music plays around us. You hear me?

 

The Evolution Of Spam

A long, long time ago, when I got my first email ID on Yahoo, like the rest of the world, I was warned about something called ‘Spam’. I was told that bad people will mail me asking for my personal details and then, before I could realize it, they would steal my identity and all my money from the bank. They would sent a virus through an email and kill my computer and make my life miserable.

Of course, none of this actually happened. It was just my mum’s way of instilling fear in me.

The very first spam mail I got was from a guy claiming to be ‘Princess Charlie’ and he wrote to me about investing my money in a time-sharing apartment in Nice, Italy. This was way back in 1998. I still remember this mail because I’ve saved it. Or maybe because I haven’t opened my Yahoo mailbox very often after I created it, like the rest of the world.

A few years later, the nature of spam mails changed dramatically, and unknown people (or robots) started sending unbelievable amounts of hyperlinks in each mail. Things that read: “Click here for free antivirus! Click here for free viagra! Click here for free sex!” and so on. I remember one particular email that went on for three pages, and the entire body of the mail was hyper-linked. It was ridiculous.

Then came the African scourge. Millions of people were killed by their own family members and the lucky few who survived, got access to a computer and an internet connection and mailed everyone on the planet asking for financial help. One particular mail was heart-wrenching. A woman mailed me, claiming to have survived a bush fire in the Sahara Desert. The fire claimed her three kids along with all her money and documents. Her relatives, seizing the opportunity, drove her out of her own house because she didn’t have the documents to prove it was hers. So, she mailed me, of all people, asking for help and a chance to start a new life. Moron that I am, replied to her mail: “Are you a hot chick?” I never heard from her again.

Spam Culture

Then came the Age of the Unclaimed Bank Account. It turns out that a lot of very rich and very dead people had bank accounts in Nigeria, of all places, and the bank manager invariably turned out to be a very generous man. I have mails from at least a dozen such manager asking for my help in transferring million of dollars of a dead guy’s assets into my country. If only I had enough money of my own, I would invest it in a Nigerian bank and die peacefully in a place crash (that would be reported in a popular news site), knowing that my millions were in the hands of such generous souls.

And now, today, we are in the Age of the Lottery. Kind, generous people all over the world are entering your email ID and Phone Numbers in unnamed lotteries as we speak and within the next few days, “…your number will win a billion GBP in the LuckyLoser Sweepstakes!” Congratulations!

Maybe its time we started a new spam trend. Maybe we should hurl abuses are total strangers just for kicks. Or death threats? Nah, might get arrested for that. Think of something new and spam-worthy, and put down your ideas in the comments here. Best one gets a free spam kiss from me.

Image Courtesy: Blogwaybaby.com

Second Chances

“Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.”

– Elie Wiesel,
American Author,
Nobel Peace Prize 1986

One of the greatest attributes of life is its ability to deny us what we really want and give us what we really need. His life has been a constant game of badly-played chess, with every move as unplanned and sometimes, as stupid as it can get. Talking about friends and how they helped him reconstruct a broken foundation takes him back three years – a time when he almost convinced himself that he was a burden to everyone around him and decided that there wasn’t anything else that he could offer to the world. His time here was up, and he had to make a quick exit – to end his life and escape to that blissful afterworld where there’re no more complaints, no more angry glances, no more walking into a room filled with people who stop in mid-sentence and look at him as though he’s an unwanted piece of garbage, no more hints and subtle suggestions about him being a loser – and he chose the tried and tested path of a blade to the wrist in a bathroom alone at night.

It was in his second year of undergrad that he found out he was really a loser. The faculty treated him with disdain as if they were teaching him only because they were forced to, and his classmates never even acknowledged his presence, let alone talk to him. What was the point to all this, he thought. Why am I here? I don’t belong here because I am not wanted.

The situation at home wasn’t any different as his parents never really had the time to sit with him and talk about anything. There was a big pile of unopened progress reports on the refrigerator, and every day he looked at them in the hope that at least one of them would be opened. His grades were good but not great, and he just wanted his parents to know about the time he got a 25 on 25 in math or the time when he cleared the physics term paper. He wasn’t asking for a pat on the back and he wasn’t asking for a present in return. All he wanted was for them to smile at him occasionally, or at least look at him. He returned every day to an empty house and an emptier home. His time was up.

The person who helped him get through his hurdles – Aziz – died on May 4th, 2006 in Bangalore, India, after being diagnosed with a malignant type of blood cancer. He held his hand in the hospital on the third and told him that he’s going to live in San Jose, California, and that he owed his life to Aziz, because if it weren’t for him, there would have been no second chances.

This post is in memory of Aziz Muhammed, who celebrates his 2-year death anniversary today – a fact I was reminded of by an email from San Jose this morning, an email that gave me the permission to write these words and make his story known to the world. I had had only one cup of tea with Aziz, three years ago, and at that time, Chuckie, who was with me, said, “Life has so many things to show us and teach us and it will, only if we give it a chance to do so.”  Aziz smiled and made me smell the hot steam rising from the cup of tea. I dismissed him as a junkie at that time.

Now, I always smell my tea before drinking it.