Seldom do you meet a man who's as humble and unassuming as Suresh Chandrasekaran, One of the best that blogosphere has to offer, his language is graceful, humour understated and he always has something substantive to say. There's no way you can skip through a C.Suresh post. Such is his grasp of the language and subject that he holds your attention till the last sentence. An IIM graduate, he gave up the lure of the corporate world, to pursue his heart's calling, a path very few will dare to tread. His many fans rightly believe that it was Life is LIke this that deserved to win Indian Blogger Award for the best blog in the humour category.
In this post, Suresh talks about his encounters with the exotic PC and prays for an escape button for a generation enslaved to this digital monster.
A-P-P-L-E --- Apple; B-O-Y --- Boy……
There we were sitting deferentially at the feet – metaphorically or literally depending on your school – of the teacher, who was the repository of knowledge that you did not possess. Faintly at the back of your mind is a glimmer of hope that, someday, you would be the font of knowledge from whom those younger than you would drink even if you did not choose the teaching profession.
Now that you have been through the education mill with straight “A’s (All Right already! Mainly “C”s and a smattering of “B”s if you want to be THAT literal about it) and come into the ripeness of years, you will at last occupy the seat of wisdom – or so you think.
H-V --- Have; G-R-8 --- Great ……
Uhoh! Every generation up to now has reached a time when it teaches after having been taught. I belong to, probably, the only one that started off learning from the old and now has to be a student of the young. Great …umm.. I mean gr8. Sorry, Teacher!
I blame it all on that thing that we used to call the computer. I still cannot bring myself to call it with all those pet names that the young use for it – as though it were a friend, boon companion or alter ego. The scars of my early run-ins with that thing are still fresh in my mind.
I remember vividly the day I was standing in a long queue of nervous college boys clutching in my damp hands the offerings for what seemed to be a tribal god’s shrine. All those rumours about being fed to the god if your offerings were rejected could not be true, could they? I check with my neighbour and he adds to my misery with bloodcurdling tales of new-born babies being sacrificed on moonless nights to propitiate the god. With dragging feet I approach the sanctum sanctorum, remove my shoes, genuflect reverently and enter the temple with trepidation. The acolyte – they call him Computer technician, the acronym IT having not been invented yet - holds out an imperious hand.
“Give me the punch cards”
I hand over my offerings with a nervous prayer.
“There is some error. Your program does not work. Go”
I swallow nervously. “Can I, really?”
I breathe a gusty sigh of relief and joyously exit having escaped being chewed up by the god, only to be chewed up by my professor.
Once you have seen something as a fearsome deity, it is difficult to get on pally terms with it. The next encounter at my office, though, was with a much less awesome entity. It squatted on a table just like one of the boys and one could directly hold a conversation with it using a keyboard. (Mice were still things that evoked shrieks and not pets to be cuddled, yet)
The first encounter, however, sufficed to let me know that the tribal god may have lost its size but none of its temper. My very first attempt to get pally was rebuffed disdainfully with a “Bad Command or Filename” and an angry bilious glare. In the manner of gods who only helped those who helped themselves, it did not even deign to specify whether the Command or the filename was bad. (If you, perchance, are thinking that I was alone in my generation with this deity fixation then let me disabuse you. There was this lady who was similarly rebuffed when she gave a command “Save” and, thinking that the deity was furious with the lack of politeness, she typed in “Please Save”)
The other god-like attribute was the habit of entering into deep meditative trances – ‘hanging’ was the approved religious term – in the middle of a conversation. You were left wondering whether it was advisable to attempt waking it up and, if so, how to go about doing it. The traditionally approved method was to have some lovely dancing girls to `disturb the trance. Much as it would have enlivened the office atmosphere, you were handicapped by the fact that you did not know where to get some not to mention that you could find better uses for them than to propitiate a cantankerous deity. (In deference to my hostess here I really thought of having dancing men and a female deity but the problem is that I have an unreasonable aversion to having my house stoned and my effigies burnt for having insulted our goddesses)
As though it were not sufficient to have the deity’s inconsistency, you had your bosses with their own weird ideas of the computer. It was common for my boss to hand over a humungous amount of work to be finished by the evening with a dismissive, “After all you only have to do it on the computer”. I generally left his room feeling that he thought I was Aladdin, the computer was a genie and all I had to do was to go to it and say, “Fetch” and the job was done. No-one who has not been sandwiched between a boss, who thought of you as something akin to a dog-trainer, and a Computer, which acted like a deity even if was really not one, can realize that absolute pitch of furious resentment.
Now, of course, that tribal deity of mine has spawned an entire population of its monstrous offspring – PCs, Laptops, Tablets, and Smart Phones - and taken over everything. Why, even the language we write has changed causing me to go back to Kindergarten all over again.
The supreme irony is that I cannot even find a shoulder to cry about the calamity that has overtaken my generation without the help of this monstrous species. Mine is a truly accursed generation, which can neither ignore this species nor ever forget the fear that it once inspired. Spare us a tear as you move the cursor over to the “Like’ button!