Punjabi by nature: Facebook or ‘Kaleshbook’

  • Khushwant Singh, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jan 10, 2016 23:22 IST
Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu (HT Photo)

If I were asked to rename Facebook, what would I christen it? I would call it ‘Kaleshbook’ as I can think of no other name given the trouble-maker status this social media is turning into.

Ha! Logged in all the time, tickling all and sundry and still maligning its character, many of you would ask. But then it is addicts like me who can spill the beans about its capacity to trigger a clash, or its Punjabi variant ‘kalesh’. And if you’ve had a swig of Patiala, boy, you can trigger more than a war of words. Perhaps, Mark Zuckerberg when developing FB didn’t realise that drunk browsing could be as hazardous as drunk driving. Since there is always a setting sun somewhere in the world, introducing a Breathalyzer test before anyone can log in is not a bad idea.

I can already see Punjabis taking exception to this idea since they will be the first victims of FB’s campaign for net neutrality. And what is FB without Punjabis? Boring to the core.

Were there a Breathalyzer, no way would I have managed to post my status, ‘Chandigarh women follow fashion, don’t create it’. That it stirred a hornet’s nest and kept many busy commenting all night is a testimony to the ‘kalesh’ a Punjabi FB user can cause. But, like many other things I think about, this was on my mind for long. And when Facebook persisted me with ‘What’s on your mind’ (WOYM), my fingers couldn’t resist typing what I felt. My sincere apologies to the ladies. I promise that one of the days I shall bring upon myself the wrath of the Chandigarh men. And yes, the regret I had to offer to my wife, who though is not on FB, has quite a few confidants informing her of my activities. “Oh! how come this one is writing on your wall, these days?” Another ‘kalesh’.

However, talking about WOYM, this is a devil of a question as it is posed to over a billion and a half people who could be angry, drunk, happy, horny or radicalised. And depending on their mood if they disagree with your view, which could be as simple as having black tea in a wine glass, you are better off without ‘Kaleshbook’.

Lo and behold, if you think differently about Narendra Modi’s policies than the bhakts, just don’t be lured by the FB’s WOYM. It’s not worth it. But then what the heck! One cannot keep ceding space to the bullying by radicals, another variety of people that can cause immense ‘kalesh’. They, besides abusing and threatening, go overboard by dubbing you as a follower of RaGa. I find this highly objectionable, this deal of forced Congress membership for critiquing. Besides the intolerable coercion, they also want to pack you off to Pakistan so that India can become another Pakistan.

My location luckily on the FB is still India, though FB has this crazy knack of picking up wrong locations. For Chandigarh, it usually picks up Ludhiana, which you only realise when you get message from a friend saying she’s upset because you’ve gone without meeting her and your wife asks that what were you doing in Ludhiana. Now who does one deal with, the Bhakts or the wife? It’s in these situations that I think of the legendary folk singer Ramta. Ramta on Facebook.

Though it has been developed to connect people, I think because of FB I’m lesser by a few friends. Probably they couldn’t handle my WOYM and me their likes and comments.

I know of people who have lost their jobs because of FB. I know of daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law clashing because of FB statuses. Of boyfriends, girlfriends and married couples breaking up just because their claims say one thing and FB picture tags quite another.

Those who don’t get the gyaan of ‘trim the tagging’ and ‘calm the chatting’, for them Facebook will remain ‘Kaleshbook’.

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