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Broken gadgets

By Nickunj Malik - Sep 13,2017 - Last updated at Sep 13,2017

There comes a time in the life of every columnist when nothing seems to go right. I am not talking about the dreaded writer’s block, which happens often enough, but worse than that is if the tools of our trade give up on us. Before the advent of e-mail and computers, whenever the typewriter ribbon ran out, there was a shortage of writing paper or the fax machines got into a freeze mode, well, our blood ran cold too. We did not have many alternatives, other than picking up the phone and dictating the piece to our editors, which was neither a suitable nor a sustainable option. 

I am well aware that all of this could have happened to me at any juncture, but surprisingly I had quite a smooth run for over two decades. Despite knowing that I cannot have a lucky streak forever, when misfortune struck, I was taken completely unawares. My laptop crashed in a remote island country that I was visiting, and with that single unexpected calamity, all links to my writing kit were broken. 

We take our gadgets for granted and I personally treat my MacBook like a moody teenager. So, if it acts in a weird manner, I just ignore it for some time and put it on a sleep mode. Most often, after a good rest, it gets rejuvenated and responds positively to my requests. I basically utilise the same technique I used while raising our child and it works wonderfully. Well, most of the time anyway. 

But, at this instance, it does not and even after two days of nonstop resting, it refuses to wake-up. My deadline is fast approaching and I am beginning to get stressed. My husband suggests I use the computer in the business centre of the hotel we are staying in. I resist the idea because who wants to be caught working in a resort that is facing the sandy white beaches of the Indian Ocean? “In all probability they do not even have a business centre,” says the voice in my head. 

On day four my laptop also does not stop snoozing. I consider writing my article on my smartphone but after squinting at it for some time I drop the idea because the screen is too small and the auto correct setting installed in it, keeps distorting my words. I am horrified when I type “things” and it becomes “thongs” and “mother” becomes “mugger”. I don’t even want to contemplate what shape my column would finally take.

Ultimately I approach the hotel staff and ask them to take me to their business centre. They look at me in complete disbelief, as if I have demanded a private jet at my disposal. One of them leads me across the breezy sun drenched lobby with views to die for, towards the interior of the building. The room is dark and neglected, with dim lighting and there is a lone computer in the corner table. It looks like nobody has ever felt the need to use the services of the place. I request for some more light which is another gargantuan task for the beleaguered hotel manager.  

“Madam, why don’t you sit on the beach?” he tries to solve my problem. 

“I have work to do, my laptop crashed,” I inform him. 

“Do you know where the switches are?” he asks me. 

“I have never come here,” I answer.

 

“Neither has anybody else,” he confesses under his breath.

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