Friday, March 31, 2006

Of Human Spirit and Celebrating Life

This was written a by a dear friend of mine (Aditya Sadhotra) and I wanted to share this … it reflects what I feel life of software people is…

Of Human Spirit and Celebrating Life

2000hrs – Friday evening.

I am a worried man.

No, it’s not my boss calling me over and telling me to work on a presentation over the weekend.
No, I don’t have any review calls on Monday.
No, it’s not my in-laws coming over for dinner.

I am worried because of a commitment I made to a man pushing fifty, who even at such a fragile age, managed to weave a web of crafty words around me and then gently nudged me over to fall right into his trap. The gentleman in question happens to be our Mr. Editor and under the influence of his words I, in a moment that can be described best as one of brazen youth, committed to contributing for Softalk.

His passionate plea to become a correspondent and wake up to the life around us had a lasting impact on me. It lasted for precisely thirty seconds, time enough for me to commit! Thirty seconds of my life for which I now plead temporary insanity.

The challenge here is that how does one so wired to the “If-Then-Else” based Left brain, shift gears and move into the fast lane imagination highway and carve out narratives from lives very ordinary.

Our fraternity, while very comfortable discussing the Nokias’ and iPods’ are at a complete loss of words when it comes to discussing our lives.

Are we turning into machines as well?
Are machines influencing us into living unsung and uncelebrated lives?

I decided that the answers to these questions might lie with people who know us best - our families and friends.

1000hrs - Saturday

I called up home. The first thing I realised was that I did not remember the number. My wife had to remind me. After the initial polite greetings, I had nothing to say or ask. I was not aware of the happenings back home. I quietly handed over the phone to my wife and walked out. She joined me after a good 20 minutes and started telling me about her conversation with my family. Somewhere in the past I had logged out, I was no longer an active participant. I was living my life vicariously, a second hand narrative from my wife.

I wrote an email to a bunch of friends from school and college. The mail was sent to seven people, five bounced back. I did not have phone numbers for any one of them. Not even one. It was like my cookie was bust – Session expired!

My cell phone had numbers of only colleagues, clients and cab companies.

My worries when I started writing this article had now turned into anxiety.

I sat down on the carpet with all the family albums I had. It took me three hours to go through them. A three-hour journey that showed me glimpses of my life, when I was living it. I could tell you a hundred stories from my school and college days but for the last few years, I have none to tell.

May be there is truth in the old geezers assertions. May be those thirty seconds were the only sane moments in the last five years.

1700hrs – Sunday

I have not watched any television today. For a Sunday, that’s the first in 20,000 weeks, or so it seems. I have rarely felt so low and down and this time it has nothing to do with my academic results but I will not give in so easily. I have formulated a plan to hack right back into the mainframe called life.

I am cooking tandoori chicken; I took the recipe from my dad. I had almost forgotten what an exceptional cook he is. After a few initial awkward moments we actually got into our longest conversation in a long time. I guess communicating with parents is like swimming; you may not do it for years but when you take the plunge, you splash a lot of water but you stay afloat.

I am hoping that at least one of the two un-bounced mails will elicit a response. It won’t take long after that to uncover the entire network. I know that things will take their own time, but it’s time investment well worth it.

There may actually be philosophy behind the standard operating procedure of learning a new programming language – it always begins with a “Hello World” program.

Thank you Mr. Editor, I am logged in again.

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