Technology and the Next New Things have always fascinated me (and I hope they will do the same to you). Not for me the beaten path. I like to think and ponder about the world that can be and the world that we can help create. When I was young, I would spend hours sitting in the balcony of our flat in Mumbai listening to radio. TV was very limited we just had one channel broadcasting a few hours a day! But radio that was a window to a different world for me. My favourite programmes were BBCs Discovery and Science in Action. Both, not surprisingly, explored new horizons. As I closed my eyes listening to what they talked, I also would imagine the future.
Every few months, there would be a different passion. When I was very young, I would accompany my father to the various construction sites he was a civil engineer and designed skyscrapers. Then, bridges fascinated me. There was something majestic about the linking of two different worlds, I guess! My father would explain me about the different types of bridges through pictures in books and there was a time when looking at a bridge, I could tell what type it was. Then, for some time, it was space travel. I remember sitting up late and listening to the live coverage on BBC and VOA (Voice of America) of the space shuttle take-offs and landings. That was amazing to me. I even wrote a long essay once on how I saw space as the final frontier and how its conquest was the next big untapped opportunity.
When I was 14, there were two interesting events that took place. The first was a tour of Europe. The second was Nehru Science Centre. The trip to Europe was my first outside India. We went as part of an SOTC tour. We visited almost all the Western European countries during a 3-week tour. I was fascinated by the history and the progress. One would read about the West but this was a first-hand experience. India, by comparison, was quite poor and backward. When I look back, perhaps it was that visit which instilled in me a desire to do things which will make a difference for India.
Nehru Science Centre was an interactive scientific extravaganza. There were various exhibits there and one could learn scientific principles by actually doing a few actions. I went there multiple times. Later, with three of my fellow-students, we participated in the Inter-collegiate science quiz contest organised there. 120+ schools participated and we won! The Nehru Science Centre is an abiding memory from childhood. I pass it every day on my way home from work. A couple decades ago, it was another key component in helping build my scientific temper.
Tomorrow: Parents, Teachers and Friends
TECH TALK Letter to a 2005 Baby+T