On Tuesday, Google announced its plan to shut down Orkut on September 30

Many Chennaiites on Tuesday fondly remembered their tryst with Orkut — a social network that was buzzing through most of the last decade, and which is now facing the virtual gallows with Google ready to pull the plug on September 30.

For a whole generation, Orkut was their first brush with social networking. Social media consultant Arun Rajagopalan, who has worked on movies such as ‘Raja Rani’ and ‘Mundasupatti’, says: “I received my first lessons on online fan behaviour by moderating the popular Tamil Cinema Community, which was rated as the seventh most active community in India.”

Orkut was the first site to bring like-minded people together, instead of merely connecting friends, which transformed the way Indians in big cities socialised. “Those with similar ideas were meeting, getting into business partnerships, travelling together and even began dating. In a way, it helped individuals make friends beyond their immediate social circle,” Arun says.

Photographer Dharma Chandru, who was recently appointed as a photo mentor by Canon India, recalled how it helped creative people build a brand. “While Orkut had ads that could be called invasive, bloggers, singers and photographers weren’t taken for a ride. We didn’t have to pay for our every post after working hard to build an audience for our page.”

Former video jockey Gayatri Ganesh started using Orkut in her late teens, when opportunities to meet like-minded people were almost nil. It also prepared her for the big, bad world, she says, “One could talk to strangers without revealing your identity. I met all kinds of people — some really nice ones and also, some really bad ones.”

Some netizens bade farewell to Orkut on Tuesday by logging into their profile one last time. Most others paid tributes on Facebook and Twitter, the social networks that eventually brought down the once powerful Orkut.

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