This story highlights the pitfalls of the internet. Rita and her net-pal were on vacation. They promised to share their adventures the minute they got back.

Rita was a compu-nut and loved to surf the net. She couldn’t recall how she had picked up Ricky’s email id — from a list in one of the forwards or from some vague school website. Anyway, the two had clicked from the word go and become fast net-friends. They shared the same likes and dislikes. Both adored Harry Potter, Roald Dahl and Goosebumps. Both were crazy about pop music, cartoon-channels and scrabble.

The two net-pals knew a great deal about each other but not where they lived or what they looked like. In typical ‘chat’ tradition, Ricky signed his name as Ricky-Ticky Tavvy and Rita called herself Ra-Ra-Rasputina. Not knowing each other’s true identity made things more interesting. But they shared all their news. Rita was all set to spend the Easter-cum-Holi weekend at a seaside resort. Ricky was scheduled to go to Corbett Park with his cousins. Both promised to write to each other about their adventures.

At the beach

Rita and her brother Sandy loved the sea. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, the Ocean Wave Resort was always full. Rita’s parents would have preferred a quieter spot. But she and Sandy had begged for Ocean Wave as their friends were going there too. They soon located their friends in the crowd.

Sandy and his pal Anand made for the beach tower. The girls made for the private beach.

“Look at that fatso!” said Mona pointing to a fat boy clinging to his mother’s arm.

“Doesn’t he look like Dudley, Harry Potter’s insufferable cousin? He’s just as pudgy and blubbery!” said Rita.

Ruby and Mona screamed with laughter. The girls had not meant the boy to hear them. But their voices carried.

The fat boy glared at Rita, saying, “I’d rather be pudgy than a scarecrow like you!”

“How rude!” spluttered Rita, who was touchy about her being so thin.

Unfortunately they bumped into one another constantly. Rita and Ronnie (the fat boy) were always at loggerheads. Whether it was a tussle over treasure-hunt or about seating arrangements in the dining room or because Ronnie grabbed the video game Rita wanted. Rita called him ‘Tubby’ and Ronnie called her ‘Skinnagalee’.

Rita was disgusted at the way Ronnie munched popcorn, chips or toffee all the time. Ronnie thought it was ill-mannered of Rita to keep refusing them when offered. Their constant bickering continued through the weekend.

“It would have been so nice if only that horrible boy hadn’t been there,” said Rita on the drive back home. “I wonder how Ricky enjoyed his trip.”

But there was no mail as yet from Ricky. Tina settled down to mail him about her weekend. She wrote about the “bloated horror”, who munched all the time like a cow chewing cud.

At the same time that night Ronnie mailed his net-pal about the last moment cancellation of his trip and how he had been obliged to go to a stupid resort where a girl who looked like a spider and screeched like a barn owl spoiled all his fun!

Keep safe on the Net

The internet is fascinating. It connects you with people all over the world and even with people you have never met. Though it may be fun, sometimes it could be dangerous. Here are some simple rules to follow when you are online.

Do not post personal information.

Think twice before you post pictures or videos of yourself.

Ensure your privacy settings are high.

Your password is your secret. Do not share it.

Do not befriend people you do not know.

Never agree to meet up with people online.

Tell your parents if someone does ask to meet you.

Most people never reveal their true identity online.

If you see something that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable, log off and tell your parents.