Sunday, February 7, 2010

Geeks and Muggles

It might seem funny to you, but I was always an aspirant geek while growing up. Maybe it had to do with being the son of two professors who were both PhD and research scientists by the time I was born. Or maybe it had to do with being born in an engineering city, where the highest accolade anybody could have was the Bachelor of Engineering degree. Maybe it was in my genes, or maybe I picked it up somewhere. And although I was absolutely not geek material, I was much better at football, cricket, dramatics, biking, debating, trekking and the like.. the aspiration somehow was always geekdom. And geekdom always evaded me. Until, of course, now. And once I am here, its not what I thought it would be. Its not as interesting, not as inspiring, not as motivating.. certainly not sustainable, and absolutely not “me”.

The other day a colleague of mine asked me to organize a session where I could share the technical aspects of the work we do for the client, the colleague was more into the “creative” side of things. So I had the session and somewhere midway, I realized just what I had become. A person who was crazily passionate about each miniscule technical detail of what we are doing, where we are doing things, and how we are executing our plans. Even when I was not responsible or in anyway linked to those plans. To the extent that I tended to get carried away into the details. To the extent that I was explaining ERP tools, ERP basic concepts, and implementation and rollout projects in East European countries. And I knew that I had arrived. To geekdom. To geekiness. I had finally become the complete geek.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a software developer. Nor am I a subject matter expert. I am not the type who mumbles Javascript and ABAP code in his sleep. It’s worse. I am a consultant. Or rather a consultant involved in selling consulting services. In fancy terms they call it IT Business Development. And the part of my job I cherish most, is the exposure to technology it gives me. Not just to one software, not just to one module of an ERP system, but to a multitude of technology, software, hardware as well as services. And fortunately or unfortunately, it always amazes and thrills me. It makes me dig in deeper into the geekological aspects of things. And its amazing when I can use the knowledge to the benefit of the clients, or my own organization. Its kinda addictive, I tend to get carried away. Till I reach a point when I find myself passionately explaining all the geek stuff to an outsider, who probably finds it the most boring thing on earth. And it suddenly hits me. This has now become my whole life. This geeky stuff, that I aspired for, has become my whole life. The basketball, the volleyball, the trekking, the traveling, the biking and the blogging… all have taken a bow and moved to the sidelines. And geekiness prevails and encompasses everything in my life. I talk mergers, acquisitions, and the future of BI Frontend over coffee, and customization of enterprise portals and splitting of superdome servers over dinner. Its all done in a very “fun” way, over football at O’Learys and over fancy dinner tables at Beirut Café. But its still geek talk.

And I wonder, that in spite of the thrill and the kick I derive out of it, in spite of the adrenalin rush the latest server release or the development drop gives to me, is this what I was meant to do? Pardon my self questioning spree, I have always suffered from the Self Questioning Syndrome, somehow it has done me a lot of good in life. And the answer, surprisingly is no.

They say that there are the idealistic notions of life. And then of course there are the practical realities. I once had a friend who used to sing very well. She was passionate about singing and did her bachelors and then her masters in music. Unfortunately in India, the country of a billion people, singing will not provide the daily bread and butter to manage the basic middle class life one needs. Hence she was extremely worried about life. She did not, and would not do anything else apart from music, she felt she was betraying her call in life if she did anything else. Her career went downhill, her self esteem took a plunge, she started losing respect in social circles. Till a friend explained that trying out a profession would a) not mean that she would have to give up music and b) could mean that she could find something apart from music that she actually liked doing. She tried her hand at multiple professions, and after some amount of job hopping finally settled down in a corporate job. Last I heard, she still is a professional singer, pursuing degrees in music and making appearances in professional shows, but she also likes her job. I took my lesson from the story, the idealistic and the practical nuances of life are not always an OR option, sometimes they can be AND options as well. And that is what I have told myself. That I shall take the AND option. I will mix the practical geekiness of my life with the other more idealistic “creative” options that life gives me. Of course, in taking the AND option, I shall run the risk of one aspect of life dominating the other. Like it is now. When I find myself playing badminton once a week, blogging once in 2 weeks, and not going to the gym at all. When I have not touched a motorbike for months, and have not travelled to a new country for around half a year. When I find myself immersed in making proposals and learning about the latest sever release more often than planning my next road trip.

But I shall fight the domination and strive to restore the balance. And I will not give in to the OR syndrome. I shall be a geek, but manage to lead the life of a muggle (??!!) without the superpowers of geekdom as well. I shall not give up.. on either geekiness or my other callings in life. And I shall also manage to fulfill my wish list, the weird things I have to do before I die (now DON’T ask me what they are, if I started off on that you’d wish you had never asked!). Wish me luck :)…

For the uninitiated:

"The definition of geek has changed considerably over time, and there is no longer a definitive meaning. The terms nerd, gimp, dweeb, dork and spod have similar meanings as geek, but many choose to identify different connotations amongst these terms, although the differences are disputed."
- Wikipedia

One of many definitions that abound on the internet:
"A derogatory reference to a person obsessed with intellectual pursuits for their own sake, who is also deficient in most other human attributes so as to impair the person's smooth operation within society"
- Wikipedia

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  1. What a wonderful post - you describe the challenge a lot of face very aptly.. I myself struggle if I am doing what I am meant to do, what I am passionate about.. but the AND option gives me a new way to look at things..

  2. u know, u have taken geekiness to a new level..i always knew some guys like it when they are called geeks, hehe :P
    but yes, u have chosen a good path, i try to juggle my life just as much as u do, just that, dominated is a feeling i get too often :)
    enjoy ur geekiness no harm in that, trust me :)

  3. @Miss Overthinker: I am trying hard to adopt the AND option. I believe that there shouldnt be OR options in life, except when a guy has to choose between two girls ;)

    @ Mrinalini: Now I am not so sure if geekiness is still an aspiration value for me, but I enjoy it to an extent :)

    @雪糕: 许我不是哲学家,但我不明白你的意见对我的职位是....

  4. Boy, even geekdom is this glamourized kya?

  5. Aaaahhh!! giving a new dimension to geekiness. I can so relate with this post. To add, there is this notion of how a geek must behave and act, weird way! Need to break it.

    I am a geek, a hardcore geek; playing around with clouds and virtualizations and server boxes and such. But the AND option really works well for me. Sometimes its the juggling act, but its fun for sure!