04 August 2018

If I were not a software engineer

I was a topper at school. Though I was not bad at math and science, I was a whiz with languages. I was obsessed with books of all kinds (literature, encyclopedias, mysteries, biographies) and was quite well informed due to this. I had a strong sense of truth & justice; won prizes in essay competitions and extempore at school. I could also throw about colors well, on paper as well as in Rangolis. I wrote poems; had even submitted an entry to the then popular children’s comic – Tinkle, in which my story of Suppandi got published once. I loved to help my working mom in the kitchen; housekeeping was a passion. I loved to see the smile on her face when she returned home after a tiring day at work. In short, I was destined either for the arts, law or the hospitality industry.

Life took a very different turn, however. Given my grades in HSC, engineering and medicine were the only two options on the table. My father dreamt of me in a white coat and shiny halo that only a doctor can sport. He argued that I had the hardworking ethic required to don the stethoscope. But I have always been squeamish about blood and sickness. He felt that I was too much of a straight shooter to be a lawyer. My mother envisioned me as a goddess with multiple arms; a broom in one arm, a baby in another, a rolling pin in yet another arm, and if I absolutely had to work, then chalk and duster in my other arms :-) My friends advised me that I was too staid (no artistic “temperament”) for the arts. Back in junior college, computers were the high rage. Peer group curiosity was high and my elders were certainly clueless (a definite plus!). Also, I heard that one could work magic with colors, shapes, designs and words using software! So that’s how I came to be a computer engineer.

After I joined engineering, I developed a keen interest in astrology and psychology. I am tempted to attribute this to the insecurity and romance of the teenage years. But in hindsight, lost in the world of programming machines, I was desperately seeking to debug the toughest algorithm God has created - the human being. Unraveling the bits and bytes (emotions) of this complex machine held me spellbound. I felt confident that mastering this life skill is most critical to navigate the choppy waters of life.

Indeed, people skills have been demanded of me throughout my work as well as personal life. Emotion, and its articulation, drives all aspects of human transactions be it relationships or business. A result of my pursuit of this skill is that I am often regarded as the go to person for all family feuds. I have spent an entire life time counseling friends in their love or work lives. So much so that I have toyed with the idea of writing agony aunt columns in magazines :-) I’ve often been urged to write books. The closest I’ve come to publishing my work is when I write film reviews on social media (they are quite well respected, by the way). Yet another recommendation is that I become an official film critic or script writer.

As they say, no one knows you better than your parents, siblings, spouse or your child. My dear departed dad maintained till his last breath (he had been hospitalized for a month) that I would have made a great doctor. My mother claims that, with my service-oriented nature coupled with my love of toddlers, I would be great at anything dealing with kids. My brother says I lost my calling as a bestselling author. What does my better half recommend? He says that the International Relations lost out on a promising diplomat to the fickle world of IT. And my daughter, in all her 8+ years of wisdom, harbors hope that I will one day become a designer (of fashion in clothes, shoes and accessories & home interiors, etc)!

So, what does the most important critic of my life – myself – feel, you ask? Well, if I had not been a software engineer, I would have been an astrologer / numerologist / palmist / face reader or a spiritual guru - minting money by spouting pearls of optimism in a world drowning in pessimism. I am too vivacious to lead the life of a Monk who sold his Ferrari, and too restless to do horoscope readings day in and day out. Hence, I will probably design my own website for marketing this elixir of faith via blogs, videos, pictures and discussion forums. Reverse engineering human beings is so much more exciting than software engineering!

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