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October 11, 1999
Are you one of those who do not fancy doing the rigorous dandia in the sweltering October nights of Bombay? No sweat...
Log on to indiagames.com where every click of your mouse will let you clack your dandia with a computer-generated partner!
The site hosts a game in which dandia enthusiasts have to match steps with their online partners.
Players score points for every move that is in sync with their online partners. A high score wins freebies like audiocassettes.
And if you find staying online to play dandia more expensive than the season's pass to one of the high-profile dandia grounds across the city, indiagames.com offers the option of downloading the game and playing it offline.
Mumbaicommune.com, a virtual community site, hosts a special site for garba. The dandia game can be found here too.
Site hosting company Web-intelligence conceptualised and developed the game. Web-intelligence's 'New Idea Thinker' Shivam explains: "We wanted to create a brand identity for our site. We are always thinking in terms of the community concept. So we thought of creating a community of garba lovers."
Web-intelligence has even come up with an e-zine for these nine nights of garba.
The e-zine traces the evolution of Navaratri, the happenings on different dandia grounds across the city and even has audio clips of Navaratri bhajans and fast paced disco-dandia songs.
Shivam promises the e-zine will keep readers informed about which celebrity is at which dandia ground in the city and who's won the prizes in the competition categories for the best-dressed male/female and the best dancer at last night's dandia.
Ahmedabad.com is a step ahead. The site does live Webcasting of dandia videos from two dandia grounds in the city.
Sandeep Agrawal, founder and e-strategist, Ahmedabad.com told Rediff, "We are doing this Webcast for 11 days from October 9 to October 19 for three hours continuously every night."
Agrawal has some exclusive dandia specials. Non-resident Indians can log on to the site to fill out a form. In return, their relatives back home will have a few free tickets delivered to them.
"This way NRIs can watch their parents or siblings play dandia through the live Webcasting that we are doing," enthuses Agrawal.
And taking the Webcast to a new level is the chat room on the site that is next to the live video feed.
Agrawal explains: "It makes sense as a lot of people are watching the dandia live online. So they can get into the chat room and talk about it. We have a lot of traffic from US and UK coming to watch our video feeds."
The response to all this has definitely been good. Traffic at the ahmedabad.com site has jumped in the last two days.
"Yesterday we had over 57,000 unique visitors to our dandia page. In just two days I have gathered over 1,200 feedback forms from people abroad, asking for more. And it is not just people overseas. A lot of traffic comes from places in India, mainly Bombay and then even small towns like Rajkot," claims Agrawal.
Mumbaicommune.com is also attracting an overwhelming response to its online booking for season's passes.
The site offers bookings for the season's pass to over five of the hottest dandia grounds in Bombay.
The tickets booked online are delivered through a private courier service and payment is done on delivery of the pass.
Shivam confides that they have already delivered tickets worth Rs 200,000 and hope to have a turnover of about Rs 500,000 by the end of the 11 days.
Sanghani elaborates: "We have had a great response to this service. People like to book tickets online as it saves them the trouble of standing in long queues later on. They also have the ticket in hand before driving off to venues that are far from where they stay."
Agrawal, however, dismisses the idea of online booking of tickets. "This is not a movie stall or balcony tickets. The theatre is not about to get full. Dandia tickets will always be available and at whatever time people want them. Even if it is a very popular venue there will be tickets available. Anyway most sites doing online booking generally end up calling people to their offices to collect the tickets."
Enthusiasm has percolated down to even the smallest suburbs in Bombay. Ghatkopar, a predominantly Gujarati suburb of Bombay, has its own Web site ghatkoparonline.com that Webcasts dandia live for nearly four hours.
Ashish Saboo, owner of a Cyber Nook, a cyber café in Ghatkopar, is also a part of the team that is doing the Webcasts.
Saboo explains, "We are drawing out a live feed from the cable network covering the event. This is then converted into a format displayed by the RealPlayer with a time delay of around 5-10 minutes."
However, with its limited budget and lack of sponsors, Saboo has been facing a lot of problems.
Saboo laments, "The movement is dandia is quite fast. We are not able to capture all of it and often the feed is blurred. We are unable to manage sponsorships because the concept is new. Currently, we are working on an ISDN line and our small budget does not permit results to our satisfaction."
Most sites have caught the dandia bug. From free tickets to listings of dandia venues across the city, everything is just a click away.
Answer a few questions like what is the traditional dress for dandia and you can probably win a couple's pass to the most happening dandia in town.
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