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Imran ordered his coffee. He watched as the barista topped it with hazelnut crème and Irish liquer and chocolate chips and cookie crumbs and whole oreo biscuits, until it was no longer a coffee but a dessert. He sighed and wondered since when coffee had become a part of a seven course meal. “Would you like some marshmallows with that?” the barista asked him with fake enthusiasm. Imran politely declined, paid for it and sat down at his favorite table facing the door of the overpriced café.

Imran opened his laptop and pretended to be working on his term paper. But he knew that was not why he was really here. He kept glancing up at the clock once in a while. At exactly the right time, like clockwork she entered the café. Imran’s heart began to race. She ordered her usual hot coffee with mint liquer and chocolate sauce. Its unique aroma wafted through the café and Imran heard violins playing in the air. She took her coffee and sat at a table that afforded Imran a clear view of her sunlit face.  If this were a fairytale she would be his princess. And he had spent a lot of time gathering intel on the operation. Now it was time to act.

I am going to talk to her today! Imran thought to himself, I just need some courage. And so Imran turned to his internet friends. He first spoke to the book of a thousand faces. He asked the book if it knew anything about her.

“hmm….let me see, let me see…” the book said, “I am your friend and I will help you out of course. Ah, here it is, here is the page of your princess. Ooh, looks like she went to this fancy ass college for her graduation. And look she lives in this super rich locality of the city. And see, look at her pictures, she went to Sweden for her last summer holidays.  That is all that is public on her page. If you want to know more about her, you have to send her a friend request.” The book of faces said.

“Do you want to send her a request? Look buddy, I have known you now for what, like five years now, and I am going to be honest with you. She is way out of your league. Now I am your friend, and I don’t want to see you get hurt. You get all sentimental and post weird posts on your wall when you are heartbroken. Forget your princess, and instead try your luck with these women.” And the book of faces showed him pages of other women with the title “people you may know”

Imran felt let down. He knew the book of faces was just looking out for him, but he really did want to take a chance with the princess. So he next asked his friend the hash tag bird.

“tweet, tweet,tweet,” the hastag bird said, “let me see what I can find out about your princess, hastag, tweet! Looks like your princess is a militant feminist look at these #menarepigs, #feministsrule, #genderequalitynow. It would seem like your princess hates all men. Sorry friend, tough luck! Do you want me to go on?” Imran nodded sadly, “Alright then, tweet tweet. Your princess is an atheist; look at these #godisdead, #atheistsforpeace, #noreligionnowar. Also looks like she very vocal against extremism. Sorry to break this to you friend, but it seems she hates muslims. Tweet, hastag, tweet” the hastag bird said.

Imran was heartbroken. Could it really be that his princess really hated men and muslims?

As Imran worried about his chances with his princess, a thin long red tube rolled out of his backpack, “psst, psst, hey man…” the tube said. “ Not now red tube….” Imran said and shoved it back into his backpack.

Imran asked his next friend ‘instant camera’ about his princess. Instacamera gave a few poses while clicking a few selfies and said, “Ok buddy, let me look up your princess. Oh dude, your princess she is super duper hot. Here, look at her here in this selfie where she looks contemplative, look at her hair, her eyes, she is perfection even without any filter. Look at this pic she is enjoying herself on a beach in Bali and look at her here enjoying a party with her friends. Wow, she is gorgeous. She is a classical beauty, my friend.” Instacamera told Imran,

“And just for reference here are your pictures. Here you are looking like a farmhand after a hard day’s work. Here you are after your holi celebration with your friends looking like a masterpiece of modern art. And here you are after that party with your friends, not even that sepia filter could save that photo bro!” Imran sighed, instacamera clicked a selfie of them together, looked at it, cringed and deleted it. “Take my word for it bro, let this one go, there are a lot of other fish in the sea…”

Imran felt increasing dejected. The thin red tube rolled out of his backpack again. “psst, psst, hey man…”

“Shut up, red tube!” Imran said.

“But dude, this is important, man…psst, you gotta see this…”

“What is it?” imran asked irritated at the red tube.

“I found someone who looks exactly like your princess….”

“What?” Imran cried out in horror, “That is gross, get away from me!”

“Fine…” said red tube, “I just thought since you are not gonna get the real thing, you might as well want a virtual substitute.

“Get lost” Imran shouted at the red tube and threw it back in his backpack.

Imran was already losing hope. But he decided to ask one last friend for his opinion. He went to gogol and asked it about his princess. Gogol came back with an answer in 0.45 seconds. “Ok, you are not going to like this.” Gogol said, “but your princess has a PhD in gender studies from this top tier university and she now teaches at this prestigious college.”

Gogol laughed as it remembered something, “Remember how you struggled to graduate, you barely managed that! Lol and you are still a struggling writer, you should know how this story would unfold.”

Imran sighed, his internet friends were right. He had no chance with his princess.

“excuse me…” Imran heard a sweet voice say, he looked up to find his princess standing beside him smiling shyly at him. “You are the writer Imran right?”

“Umm…yes…”Imran could barely form words.

“Great! I am a huge fan of your writing! It is so great to meet you!” She said and shook his hand. Then she blushed ever so slightly, “I was wondering if I could ask you out for a coffee sometime?”

Imran could not believe his ears. He looked at his internet friends, all of them screamed at him not to do it. But Imran had to give reality a chance. He closed his laptop and said, “I would love that.”

And Imran found out that his princess was a lot like what his internet friends had told him. She was smart, intelligent and beautiful. But she was also silly, she liked watching B grade horror films and she loved eating pani puri. She snorted when she laughed and she loved staying home in her pjs as much as she liked to party. She was perfect in ways that Imran’s internet friends had not known. But above all she loved to read the cheesy stories that Imran wrote. And so as they were going strong for many months now, Imran was glad he had not listened to his internet friends and had given reality a chance.

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