Friday, October 07, 2011

Own a Mac! You'll know.

My first laptop was a Toshiba Satellite. It was big and bulky and made growling noises when you ran heavy applications or watched movies. I owned this laptop from 2004 to 2007. On my return trip from India in 2007 - the airline employee at the security checkin told me I was way over the weight limit for my carry on luggage. The heaviest thing in my bag was the laptop and I decided to leave it back in India. When I came back to the States, I missed not having my own computer, but I never missed the Toshiba per se. 

Some 2 weeks later, I won an in-state tuition waiver and suddenly came in possession of a good chunk of money. It was then that I decided that I would use it to get a new laptop. I was of course only considering windows laptops, dells, anything cheap and reliable. Having grown up in India, I had never heard of an Apple and I had never heard of Steve Jobs. I first encountered Apple, when I bought the iPod shuffle on a thanksgiving deal. It was fundamentally simple and literally spelled out all it could do. On my laptop hunt, I wandered into the university book store which was sporting the new line of Apple products. This was strictly window shopping! After all if an Indian student is supposed to buy a laptop, its going to be a crazy great deal - a cheap laptop and it will be online. This was definitely window shopping. 

And then, I held a Macbook! I couldn't describe what was it that I felt. But I instantly connected  with it. This was different, this guy had a personality, he didn't copy other people, he didn't compromise to please masses - it was different! I with my Indian upbringing and zero knowledge of Apple or individualism - knew it. It resonated in a place deeper than conscience. And of course, I instantly bought it. With a debit card! Yep - $1300 cash - gone! 

And then of course the comments started pouring in. Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind ? You spent $1300 on a laptop ?? Without research? No deals? Do you even know what applications will run on a mac? Oh my GOD!! YOU are so stupid!! What would your parents say ? You really wasted that much money ??? You have no knowledge of linux, you have no knowledge of unix!! You didn't see the first mac, you didn't evolve in the US - YOU have no right to buy a MAC ?? Do you see any other Indian student buying a mac? YOU are nuts!

Yep I was resoundingly disowned by the Indian student community. And yet, I didn't care! I was in love. And that was the first time I had fell in love with an inanimate object. Because somehow, this object wasn't inanimate. It wasn't just a piece of equipment sitting somewhere. Wherever it was kept, it stood out. It was different in the way light bounced off of it. It was different when you were using it. It looked years and ages ahead of all other computers in the store. And it was never about the actual configuration or computing power of the machine! This was my Mac. Let me repeat that - this was MY mac. I looked after it like a parent of a newborn. 

The media is awash now about the brilliance of Steve Jobs and complex analysis of what made Apple successful. But for me, all questions were answered in that first meeting with a Macbook. It was unspoken, subtle, deep, profound and almost an instant connection. Simply put - the Macbook had a soul! 

I still have that Macbook, I can't fathom selling it. I might give it to another family member to use. But I will always inquire and worry about how IT is being treated. Four years on - even now, if I accidentally bump my Mac on something, I rub the laptop where it hit and say sorry to my Mac!

And that is the best tribute anyone can pay to Steve Jobs!

- Sanket


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