Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Autobiography of a PC

The CPU cabinet now doubles up as an elevated platform on which the monitor rests. The off white colour of the monitor has changed to a dirty white with visible streaks of gray. I sit in one corner of the large hall shielded away from the daily exercise of the bai which resembles some form of sweeping. Lying amidst my more stylish, sleek and powerful brothers, people now look at me as if I am some relic from another age. My days of glory are long gone and from today I will have only one person who would care about me. Yet in the summer of 2002 in Delhi, things were so very different.

Equipped with a Intel P4 processor, 128 MB RD RAM an original Intel Mother Board and most importantly, Creative 2.1 Speakers, I was the best of the lot, a dream come true for my proud owner (henceforth to be referred to as Atish). And being among the first few of his batch to get one, he ensured that I got my fair share of limelight and adoration. The evening that he brought me home along with his 'I-know-stuff-about-computers' friend, the entire wing was abuzz with activity. Within minutes I was set up, hooked to the power supply and the LAN port and switched on. As the familiar Windows Welcome tune played and the bliss wallpaper appeared on the monitor, everybody let out a collective gasp, 'Chal gaya ...'

I was witness to the evolution of the IIT Delhi LAN. From the famous TOBU to the primitive and tedious IP Scanner and the memory intensive Sharescan and then finally to the longest standing avatar, DC++; P2P clients were the most popular applications that I made friends with. Virtually everything that ran on me depended on the LAN. Music, movies, some other kind of movies, wallpapers, docs, everything was there on the LAN. Atish was in the Computer Science Department which meant that I was also used to connect to his department's servers for a faster internet connection. Xterm and later port forwarding through the Putty became as popular as the P2P clients and I remember people flocking to my room for checking their mails and downloading stuff from the net.

I met with an accident during my second year. Something was wrong with my Hard Disk and since Atish and his friends were not sure if it was a disk problem or something related to the Mother Board, it was decided that I be taken to Nehru Place (NP). So we were going to NP on Sahu's bike when suddenly I slipped out of Atish's hands in the middle of the traffic and went tumbling down the road before finally stopping. I dont know how, but I was still in one piece. No vehicle hit me and the thermocol and the cardboard covering saved me. My hard disk had to be replaced and I was back, alive and kicking.

I was such a vital part of Atish's existence. True, he was not the kind of guy who sat in front of me for hours, playing games or randomly surfing the net or even watching movies. Chat was probably the one thing which kept him occupied the most and during his pre final and final years, TV serials. Yet his room was always a hub of activity and that meant that I was kept busy. The presence of the Creative speakers ensured that almost all the music practice sessions originated from his room as Suhas, Venky, Maddu, Shastri came in with the guitars and the keyboards to figure out the songs. Often he would sit in front of me on the chair with the guitar on his lap, the web page with the chords of a particular song opened and the pluck between his lips, as his hands moved from the keyboard to the strings trying to figure out the song. I found him to be very happy and content during those times.

Then there were the movie screenings when the lights would be switched off and the windows closed (if it was day) and a few friends would bring their pillows and take their positions on the bed. Atish mostly sat on the chair though. Often his friends (mostly Laddu) would make fun of my processor, calling it names like a P3 or even a P2, when some movie clip took a little longer than usual to start, or some application hung up. I remember it was a favourite pastime of Atish and Laddu to discuss whose dabba was better (or worse!). I would like to believe I was, but Laddu always had different views.

In the last couple of years, Wonder Years, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Joey, How I Met You Mother & Scrubs had become Atish's favourite pastimes. I remember during the Diwali break of 2005, he spent two days continuously watching the first season of Lost because he was so 'lost' in it. 24 episodes of 40 minutes each. Figure that out for yourself!

Once my keyboard and mouse had to be changed, the former primarily due to Atish's new found fixation with a black keyboard after his internship (although the old one had become rather difficult to use) and the latter because, it had reached a stage where only he could use it and anyone else who tried his hands on it vowed to throw it out of the window the next time around.

Sometimes Atish also used me to make his assignments! Hard to believe but true. See, basically he hated the labs and the atmosphere there, where a dozen faces would be looking at what you are doing and while all the bright ones would be thinking of ways to optimise their code and make it more elegant and readable and what not, he would probably be struggling just to make it run. So the confines of his room suited him the most and he tried doing his assignments (particularly the ones in Logic, PL and ADA) sitting in front of me, punching out the alphabets and the numbers, frequently dashing off to Pinku's or Laddu's room to seek help and occasionally getting someone to come by if the going got too tough for him. I never thought computer science was meant for him. I seldom saw him enjoying coding. While making the assignments, he was more focussed on selecting the right playlist than anything else. He probably enjoyed writing articles for Kara Update more than coding but we will talk about his love for writing later.

Hmm.. so where were we. LAN, music, movies, serials, assignments. Yes, chatting. he did a lot of that. With his school friends and even the ones in the campus and he attributed his typing speed to just that. I still remember how Laddu used to tease and curse him when he chatted with his girl friends from school.

And finally we come to writing. In the December of 2005, he started blogging, inspired solely by Zubin's blog. Invariably he used to compose his posts late at night, alone, without anyone's disturbance and at one go. I particularly remember the day the IIM interview results were out. It was 3 o' clock in the night as he sat in front of me to pour his heart out. It was sad and I felt bad for him.

I would like to believe that I have been an important entity in his college life and though the plastic cover came off after the second week, yet the occasional cleaning up with Colins ensured that I was better looking than most of my mates. Even in Bangalore, where I have been perhaps the most crucial part of the daaru parties (after the alcohol that is!), the jubiliation that followed my arrival, confirmed that I still had a part to play in his life and that of his friends. But it will never be like those days, in Karakoram. I know he misses hostel and come to think of it, so do I.


anonymous coward said...

Being the 'I-know-stuff-about-computers' friend, this PC is a part of my life too, particularily because it was bought from the same shop where I had bought my first PC, in the midst of the 99 world cup (perhaps a post on that later). Still remember ki uss din teri fati padi thi coz of the cash you were carrying!! Auto main le gaya tha :P

I was eagerly waiting all day for the post and it was worth it. Being among the first PCs in our wing, I guess it had helped almost all of us, sometime or other. Abhi bhi bahut jaan hai uss main, may it hang around for some more time!!

sunny said...

Never liked ur PC, but trust me, the post is perfect.

Jayashree Bhat said...

That was more like an account of your computer habits in college rather than a pc's autobiography. Good one.

shiraz said...

andar bahar !!! name it as
"autobiography of a champion's PC"

Reeta Skeeter said...

lol! sahiii

cathatfished said...

never liked this one tho :P sorry!

Atish said...

@cathatfished... 1 to chalta hai na :)

Unknown said...