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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Cupertino blues

Follow your heart!

Something that is a cliched phrase in this world of self help books and in your face advertising. "What does it even mean?" asked my 5 year old a few months ago. The example I gave her at the time was inspired by what she was holding in her hand at the time. My iPhone!

Told her that this guy who started the Apple company was told by many people that Apple is not a phone company and they should not be making phones. He went and did it anyway and it is now the most popular touch phone. That is what we mean by follow your heart.

She got it. She understood the concept of "believing in yourself", "doing what you think is right" and "pushing to be successful" after my elaborate story. It is true that over the years I have told stories from the Ramayana or Mahabharata or recently quotes from Bikram Choudhury to my kids that try to instill values of dogged determination, believing in your own strengths, admitting your flaws and valuing life in general, but when you hold a product in your hands that you will swear by as a five or eight year old, the point hits home faster!

It has been a rocky week in the household. The hand started swelling and hurting the last 48 hours and apparently the simple trick is to just lift it above the heart level, take Ibuprofen and rest. Something that I did not do for two days straight because of my love for work and hope of getting back to the Yoga room. I stayed off painkillers, spent 12+ hours working and let my hand hang from the side all day for two days straight. Sleepless nights followed and the family refused to help me at home because of my "stupidity".

There were also some tense moments with the kids getting introduced to violence that hit closer to home with a shooter taking out 3 people less than a mile from our house and injuring more. The roads were blocked off and schools were in lockdown mode for a day. There were cops with guns in plain sight at busy intersections. Things that we have not seen in Cupertino in our last 5+ years of living in this city. The kids were visibly upset and shaken.

The news of Steve's death made us all sad. Have never shed a tear in my life for someone I have not met personally. Yesterday I did. So did a lot of folks I know. When you are a techno geek who prides himself on thinking outside the norm and you came of age in the late eighties, chances are Steve Jobs was an indirect influence.

He made technology hot. The internet and the WWW have changed the world and I was probably one of the first folks to test out Netscape Chat beta where the allure was to talk so some college girl in Maryland who opens her chat with "F/S/20, beautiful night in Baltimore" and things have come a long way since then. The Apple Quadra on which I downloaded that Chat application is as big a part of that memory as I typed "M/S/21 It is raining cats and dogs here in Philadelphia".. Drexel was a Macintosh school and so was RPI!

Still remember going to a theater in 19th street to watch "Mission Impossible" the day it was released, to catch a glimpse of what a Macintosh laptop with AV capability could do (they had dropped flyers in the University to advertise this) and our group of grad school buddies could not stop talking about the Mac that night. Tom Cruise and the action were a distant second as we walked back to our apartments. All we wanted was to find ways to convince our professors that the laptop was somehow a project requirement!

Today the little one came to me and said "Daddy, does this mean there won't be an iPhone 5 which we want to buy?" my heart sank. Told her "No. There will be an iPhone 5 and we will buy it when it comes out!".

She also asked me "why are you all so sad. It is not like Steve Jobs is like Kollu thatha (great grandpa) and family. When Thatha died and everyone cried, I cried too because he was MY thatha too. But Steve Jobs is not family and you cannot do anything for his family because you don't know them!".

My daughters schools use iMacs in every class room. They are so used to Apple products. They cross 4 Apple buildings every day at a minimum which are at the edge of our street. They know Apple is synonymous with Cupertino.

Still that was a tough one to explain, but explain I did.

Finally she asked me "So you want me to come up with something like the iPhone when I grow older?" and my response was "Try your best to.."

We also had a followup conversation on what she wants to be when she grows older and she had a clear well thought out answer which was instantaneous..

"I want to be a doctor, a teacher and also have my own Target store which does not have the pizza place in the corner!"

You could teach at a medical college, but owning a target and running a department store at the same time? why? All because you dont like the Pizza store in the target?

Well, we have things to work on and she is not yet six, but following ones heart does lead to complications for other hearts!

All said and done, Steve Jobs will be missed.


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I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

i hope u feel better :)
u alwaya give an honest answer every time i ask u something,so ur children already have an example at home

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

" ...but following ones heart does lead to complications for other hearts!"

Funny yet so true! Loved it!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 12:50 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan wrote...

Ash, thanks.

anon, when I decided to follow my heart and stay in the US after my post doc stint, didn't realize I broke my parents heart at the time.

realized it much later..


I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 5:46 AM, Blogger dipali wrote...

I like the kids' perspectives on life! Great post, Sundar.


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