It was the early 90s. Computers and IT as a career had just begun to make an appearance in the Indian career scene. I was pursuing a degree in Commerce and it seemed to make perfect sense at the time to sign up for a computer course if for no other reason that everyone else was doing it.
I went to NIIT, appeared for the aptitude test and signed up for a two year post-graduate diploma in IT.
Full of pride and enthusiasm at getting enrolled to what was then a very cutting-edge program, I went home to share the good news with a great joy in my heart.
Appa never reacted with pride. If we achieved something, it was chalked down to our duty. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Consequently, I wasn’t expecting a pat on the back or any expression of how proud he was that I had taken up an additional education apart from my graduation track.
But I wasn’t expecting what happened next either.
Diagonally opposite our building was another apartment complex with a row of shops on the ground level. One of those shops was a typing and shorthand institute. I doubt if they exist today, what with the ability to record a conversation straight on the phone instead of shorthand and a number of online typing tutors.
The typing institute offered courses both in the manual and electronic typewriter. In what seemed to me at the time as a ruthless and somewhat off the course move (I had no intention of ever pursuing a secretary’s career!) Appa insisted I join the typing institute immediately and sign up for the manual typewriting course.
I was absolutely livid. I felt Appa was being really unreasonable and I would learn to type anyway once I started learning computers. This made absolutely no sense.
He was unmoved though. The most he would agree to was to stick to it for three months and not actually pursue the certification. Big of him, I thought! I had no choice but to grind my teeth in frustration and go for these classes.
It became very quickly clear though once I began the computer classes as to how critical those classes were to my journey in the world of IT.
Where others would be looking for the keys on the keyboard, my fingers effortlessly typed and freed up my mind to focus and think about the program I was writing or the command I was executing. Eventually everyone caught up to some personal version of fast typing. But I understood the foundational education and repeating rows and rows of letters with both sets of fingers kept in a certain way on the keyboard was essential to not getting wrist damage from keyboard gymnastics.
Till date when I’m in a bridge call or a meeting and I want to jot down notes while listening to the attendees with full attention, I just let my fingers fly and it just happens magically.
It’s just one more thing that has kept my memory of Appa alive every minute of every day.
Twelve years have passed since Appa passed away, but even today when I sit down to work and begin to type with a speed that has stunned many colleagues over the years, I am grateful I had a visionary for a father who saw decades into my future the day he force enrolled me into a typing course!