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Virtual prankster

February 25, 2003 11:08 IST

When online, the former Miss India, Gul Panag, often charades as 'Warren' a house husband with a rich wife!

Gul Panag

Claim to fame:
Actress, VJ, model and former Miss India-Universe, is scheduled to make her Bollywood debut in Dhoop.

How Net savvy are you? What would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10?
I am quite Net savvy. I have been hooked ever since I was in high school when a friend and I would get online and chat up people saying we are these really hot models with great figures. That was all for a lark!

Of late, I have become very Net savvy and I try and check email everyday at night before I sleep. I use MSN messenger a lot to chat with all my friends in America.

What else do you do online?
I use the Net for finding travel information. For instance, I remember when I was travelling to Illinois, I had no idea about the weather there. So I used the Net to check out what to expect. I also use the Net to check out shops online so that I know exactly what is available. That way, when I walk into a mall or a store, I know exactly what I have to pick up.

In fact, I spent five minutes buying a really expensive watch when I was in Dubai because I had spent five hours researching it online and found answers to questions I had on warranty, repairs, etc. I also ordered a GPS watch for my dad online. This is difficult in the real world, because one wouldn't even know where to start looking for a GPS watch. I ordered it online in the US and it was delivered to me in a few hours!

Do you have your own Web site?
Yes, My friends had been coaxing me for years to get my own Web site. But one day to my horror, I discovered it had been taken by a cyber squatter. An 18-year-old kid from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. I emailed him, but he just ignored me. Finally, I contacted a friend in the US and got his lawyers to call the boy and give the domain back to me.

So when my site did come up, Webcom Technologies put it up in nine hours. It had everything about me in a nutshell. It was very precious. I also posted pictures, so I didn't have to carry them around. I ran a column called 'Model of the Week' on my site for a while. But I have honestly ignored my site in the last six months with no updates. I don't even know whether one can still view it.

Does having a Web site help?
In India and the film industry it doesn't. Even big producers aren't really Net savvy, so the site doesn't help in getting work or making life easy. What it does for me is get a lot of work from international quarters. I have got a lot of work from Kenya and South Africa. Indians abroad are quite Net savvy, so they usually email you and then call if they want you to make an appearance or come for a show. The Net has been very helpful for me in that sense.

Do you get a lot of fan mail?
Yes, I do. It's surprising how much free time these kids have. They just email you out of the blue. My site received 30,000 hits in the first month and my mailbox was completely flooded because it was hosted on a small server. It was fun for a while, but I rely on my Hotmail account a lot. 

What do you like and hate most about the Internet?
What I hate most is the connecting process, which takes forever here in India. When I would travel abroad what I liked was that there were PCs everywhere - in airports, stations, public places - making it completely safe and really easy to connect.

Any strange experiences online?
Never. But I love logging into chat rooms as a man when I am really free and have nothing better to do. I have pretended to be Warren on Rediff Chat, a house husband, who has a wife earning a six figure salary. I've found some bizarre people online too. A lot of guys would chat with me and tell me how lucky I was to have a girlfriend who was working. I use a lot of humour and play a lot of pranks online. I quite enjoy that!

I even played a prank on my friends and sent them an email that I had got married and I was very upset that they didn't make it to the wedding. I got a lot of ecards and presents!

Have you bought anything online?
From India, the only time I have bought something online was Nike apparel and that got stuck at customs for ten days. I haven't ordered anything after that.

Have you ever ego surfed?
Once. Also I tried it when I had to check whether the keywords on my site were working. It's quite a lot of fun. But the gossip written about me doesn't bother me!

Any celebrity you would like to chat with?
None! I am not into asking Tom Cruise or anyone else questions. In fact, I find it quite weird when people want to chat with me or other celebrities in the middle of the day. Don't they have anything better to do?!

Arti R