Community//

The online group that became an offline community

F.R.I.E.N.D.S

How do two very different words in the English vocabulary connect together to form a third word?  It probably does not work if we think logically, as the word “apple” and “banana” does not equal to an “orange” . However, in this instance the two words “friends” and “technology” have equaled to a new word called the “community”. Does that even make sense? Probably not, but in real life two plus two does not always equal to four.

So here is the story of the community that formed over a technology group in real life for seven girlfriends in Atlanta, GA.  A few years ago one of my friends added six of her other girlfriends to a viber group and named it “Bandhubans”.  Bandhu means friends in Bengali and the rest of the group name was added for fun. Given it was free and did not result in anyone incurring data charges; it was originally created to exchange needed messages between them. 

The group somehow took a life of its own much different from its original intent, and evolved to become a connection point and an online community for the seven girls to chat at different times of the day on random topics related to their lives. I became a part of that group a few months after its formation. Not sure if I considered myself close to all of them at that point, but each of the girls had some kind of connection to the other.  However, as Bandhubans continued over the years, we all became close no matter where each one of us started with the other.  It became the one stop shop for all of us to share an idea, a story of a bad day, send pictures of clothes or food, ask for advise, or vent.  Given everyone has their phone with them most of the time, someone was always available to send a message to the other. 

In the course of time without my realization, the girls in Bandhubans became a part of my support system and our offline community.  They guided me with advise through motherhood, cooked food for me when life got challenging and ofcourse we did many fun things together such celebrating birthdays, baby showers, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving etc.  They are also the group I ask for advice on a good restaurant, who the best candidate to vote for in a local election, what to buy for my daughter’s teacher for the holidays, a recipe, a suggestion for a vacation spot and many more.  No matter what the topic was, someone was there who had some idea to help, advice or hear about my day.

I do not know if the founder of Viber had any idea how
their technology could have such profound impact on people’s lives. Today,
thanks to my friends in Bandhubans I find myself more content knowing that I
have a strong group of friends to rely on no matter what life throws at
us. They make our life in Atlanta comfortable, homely, cozy and
enjoyable. There is a quote that states “It takes a village to raise a
child”, but I have realized over the years that we need a village to also get
through life. Today my girlfriends and their families in Bandhubans are
part of the village that help me get through life.

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