The Web



Surfin' Hindustan

Text and photograph: Seema Pant

'I see a lot of foreigners'

Sixty per cent of India's Internet users access the Net through cybercafés. India has more cybercafés than post offices and an estimated 200,000 cybercafés play a vital role in everyday life across the country. On the occasion of 15 years of the Internet, takes a peek at what goes on in cybercafés around the country. Yesterday we checked out Mumbai. Today we travel about 170 km southeast, to the university town of Pune


The ground floor i way café, located near Pune railway station on Sadhu Vaswani road doesn’t seem to have too many people coming in during the day.

At 12.30 pm there are about four people there. More people I am told log in at around 11 am and then in the evenings. Apart from students, quite a few doctors come in to use the facilities as there are a couple of hospitals and clinics in the vicinity.

Major Rishikesh Vakula, 28, comes to check his mail and surf almost every day. "The place gets crowded around 6.30 pm. I don’t like to wait so I leave if I don’t get a PC immediately," he says.

"I see a lot of foreigners here. For instance there was a couple here a little while ago who spoke a language I couldn’t understand. It certainly wasn’t an Indian language."

Sherley Fernandes, 38, is also one of the few logged in today. "I don’t know much about the Internet. I only come here to chat with my husband who is in China."

She’s been coming here thrice a week for the past nine months. "It’s a mixed crowd," she says. "I don’t see too many students here."

Sixteen-year-old Vijay is here to play games. "That is what all my friends do too. During the vacations we come as often as we can. But when school starts it will only be once a week."

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