I found myself having fainted for dehydration outside a small village in Uttar Pradesh. I came to but was delirious, blathering wildly about my deadlines – but it was my gestures which were to change my life from there on. My hands, so used to typing out at the desk, had begun to re-enact keystrokes in the same manner as the fellow who plays Mozart’s hands dash across the pianoforte keys in Amadeus.
A peasant stumbled across my slumped corpse-like body; he at last asked me what I was doing in a business suit in the glaring heat of the northern hemisphere in late June. Fortunately he had water and was able to drag me in to a nearby village. I apparently spoke about all sorts of computing stuff. I even confessed I dreamt I left comments on tech websites but woke up of course to find none – sombrely the young man, a mere kid in his 20s, got up and left without even a word.
The man knew what was up; after my delirium had passed and I was coherent a small, $35 Indian tablet computer lay before me. “It is the best thing we can do instead of a keyboard” said Ranvir, who had taken the exact funds from my wallet in exchange for it in the local tech market close to the Ganges. It was then my capitalist attitude morphed into a centre-left smorgasbord from a simple act of kindness. Of course it didn’t make economic sense to rescue my incapacitated husk – it did not square with the Rand stuff I’d worshipped so libertarianistically.
Upon squaring together an Internet connection with mere gaffer tape and a mini-co axial carefully hammered into the 3.5mm audio jack…I was on. The world opened up as I sat in that little squalid shack which was my temporary home. Blogging became something completely new as the egoistic day-to-day mundane was replaced by selfless and vivid recollections of events in the village who had granted me honorary citizen status. I got to know what broadband would feel like at 56k speed; not due to poor latency, but instead economy components. Upon blogging my experience with the Good Samaritan and the villagers, a comment was posted:
“Hey man you should be like the chieftain or leader or some crap? Lead these folks into a revolutionary tech thing! – Lance”
It was that night that I near-emptied my bank account buying 200 tablets at $35: that’s $7000 bucks. I gave a tablet to every villager bar a few spares. It was then I set about making speeches about online rights. Having educated the villagers on open source activism and technology issues, we set about changing the world. Our first stop was a pilgrimage to the Nepalese steppes to sabotage a Dalai Lama press conference for publicity. As about fifty of us packed up to go I received a phone call from David in editorial back home – my HTC Android! It was still on!
“Pete? Pete. Hi, we need you back here as soon as possible. There are a few urgent things to cover. Can you fly back tomorrow afternoon?”
A tear had already dropped from my face to the tablet computer on the nearby bed. Two villagers had entered and were intently eyeing me as I falteringly held my conversation in English: “Yeah…yeah I can make it…can you wire some cash over? I had some unexpected expenses and…”
Dave was in a hurry and brusque: “Okay, money will be in your account within a few hours. Be back here Tuesday morning…deadlines to fill and all that. Your computer has been pining for you I swear. Later man.”
Tablet computers in India changed my life, and though my plans to become the head of a village failed and my depression built upon leaving the experience shall never leave me.