Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Laptop Buddha

The day was hard. Hardly enough time to breathe. Files piling up on the desk. For the first time in my life, I accepted coffee at my desk, instead of performing the usual routine of brewing it myself. Deadlines. People were like wolves, attacking me from all around, biting at whatever they got. They were hungry. For answers, for results.

A few men wilted. They went outside to catch the Delhi's wintry breeze, some men with Marlboro packets in their hands even before they left the building. Even the coffee machine seemed to be running out of energy. People were pacing, trudging, jogging... Beads of sweat on a cold winter day. The pressure was on.

I looked at the files and folders on my desktop, each was a solution. Each was an opportunity. Where would I be without all this data! Where would we be without all its computational power!

The more you give, the more they ask. The job is demanding, and fulfilling. There is happiness in the knowledge that you're an integral part of a system, which together realizes such powerful change. People press you for results; you push others. The computers are running wildly, pulling out figures and simulations. It's magical and devastatingly ugly.

Everything in its place, people dovetailing each other... Cogs. Clocks. Structures and targets. Everyone driving to a common goal at a relentless pace.

That was when my laptop fell down. It fell with a thud, halfway through a simulation, with twenty tabs open on my Chrome browser and half a dozen mail items open. I picked it up in a hurry, hoping not to waste time. Strangely, I wasn't greeted by the cluttered desktop. As I picked up the fallen computer, there was nothing there. Black screen.


Windows never turned on. "Your hard-disk has not been detected". Hyperventilation. More coffee. Sweat. People surrounded me. "IS EVERYTHING ALRIGHT?" It will be, I assured them. Work must not stop.

But what of all the data? How could all this continue if the chain broke down in the middle? People continued asking me questions, but suddenly there were no more answers. I thought the world would implode.

Strangely however, the questions stopped. All of a sudden, what I was doing wasn't important any more. The cogs went on, the clock ticked, the machine ran smoothly. And I continued trying to reboot the stubborn machine. Nothing. I called the IT Help Desk. They couldn't help immediately either.

I apologized to people, afraid I was letting them down. "It's okay," they said happily. "It happens to everyone." And work continued uninterrupted.

The irrelevance of the individual is deeply disturbing. Nothing you do really matters. Nothing in the world matters at all. In the morning, I was worried about all the files, emails, photographs and manuals which I would lose if my hard-disk wasn't revived. Even those things don't matter.

Nothing really does.