Monday, May 16, 2005

New laptop, and elegy for my first computer

Have bought a laptop, finally. An IBM ThinkPad something-or-the-other. There was much agonising, much weighing of pros and cons, but eventually it made sense to invest in something for the future. The deciding factor was space: as anyone who’s seen my room will know I, don’t have much. Books occupy nearly half my bed with nowhere else to go, there’s a TV, a DVD player, a stereo system, a desktop and a cupboard packed right next to each other, and even the lizards and spiders that dwell in corners bump unhappily into things while moving about. So it’s good to have something I don’t necessarily have to create another table space for.

I’m also holding on to my nearly-10-year-old desktop comp for now. Didn’t make sense junking it because the exchange value offered was a paltry 5000 Rs, and I had spent nearly twice that much on my last upgrade just a couple of years ago. Plus there’s nothing really wrong with the machine: it’s served me well for nearly a decade, and there’s never been a major problem with it - which is brilliant considering I’ve got by without a UPS for all that time (anyone remember the voltage fluctuations we used to have in Delhi until a few years ago?)

But yes, the laptop will become my active computer now (have already transferred all my data to it) and the old PC will effectively be put out to pasture. Can’t help feeling a little strange about that. It’s silly, this attachment to mechanical things (especially considering how callous we are in our daily dealings with other human beings) but how does one disregard the memories associated with them? I got my PC in January 1996, at a time when I was - like many people - literally scared of Microsoft Windows; scared of moving beyond the monochrome world of DOS (which had itself been scary enough in my school days). I conquered my fear of the mouse on this machine. I tentatively bought CD-ROMs to run on it, played Cricket 97, marvelled at how much content the Cinemania and Great Books CDs had stored on them. I took my first steps towards discovering the Internet on it, learnt with some wonder that the Net was a virtual beast and the same websites could be accessed on different machines located in different physical spaces. One glorious day in late 1997, sitting at that very computer, I created my first email IDs on Hotmail and Yahoo; and a few days later I learnt, again to my wonder, that it was possible to open more than one Internet Explorer window simultaneously, and that I’d been wasting money by opening only one at a time.

During post-graduation I was one of the only students in my batch with a PC of my own, so friends would often stay over to make their Powerpoint Presentations on it. I saved pictures of friends and girlfriends on it, typed out random observations on books and films years before my first byline (and many years before I knew about blogging).

Then I started working and things changed. In the last 4-5 years, the home comp played a much less significant role in my life. With the exception of a year in between, I’ve generally had good computers and fast Net connections in the offices I’ve worked in, so the home PC would be switched on for maybe an hour or so on Saturdays and Sundays. I stopped bothering much about the painfully slow dial-up at home, or about updating my virus scan; most important things could be done in office anyway.

But from now on, a lot of important work will be done at home too. Next step is getting a decent Net connection. The laptop is still an unfamiliar animal but soon I’ll get used to it, the way I got used to Windows and emails and everything else. And every now and again, just for old time’s sake, I’ll switch my old desktop on and maybe play a music CD on it. One of the classics, "Do Not Forsake Me Oh my Darlin' " or something such.


  1. yeah, jai, thats all the reason your 'friends from post-graduation' stayed over at your place.

  2. Read the sentence again. It doesn't say friends only ever stayed over because of the presentations. Some of them were interested in Old Monk and BCL videos as well ;)

  3. Now, a Think Pad is certainly what I need to update my blog more often. You haven't talked about this at all - whether your blog was one reason to buy that Laptop?

  4. If you don't mind shelling out some bucks, go for wireless LAN in your home! Airtel guys can do it. That way you can blog even from your toilet :))

  5. I was the lucky lad whose father was enough of a technology freak to have used computers from the middle-to-late eighties. So the first computer I had at home was a 80286 machine with no mouse, MS-DOS and a black-and-white monitor. I cut my teeth on those versions of DOS (which I still use today for some basic file-handling operations, even if only to impress on whoever's watching that with computers I am the Daddy of all you wannabes), Windows 3.0, 3.1, 3.11. 95, 98, and now XP (on a laptop, lucky me). Sweet nostalgia for those early years; I still refuse to play any game that runs on a Windows platform. The Prince of Persias, Nibbleses and Gorillas are enough for me.

  6. Toe Knee: one reason? It was the reason! That, and the expectation that I’ll be freelancing sometime in the future.

    Varun: thanks for that tasteful suggestion... but no thanks. LAN sounds good but I think I’ll keep things simple to start with.

    Nakul: weren’t you born long after the Death of DOS? Also, where have you been? Sent you a mail a few days ago.

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