Being amazed is a feeling that I hope I never have enough of. This is the story about one such moment of amazement.
About 10 months ago, just before I was about to leave India, I visited my grandparents to bid farewell. One summer afternoon, my grandmother or ‘nani maa’ as I call her (nothing special just the Hindi word for grandmother), and I were sitting on the porch talking about what it is I do to earn a living. This was not the first time I had been asked this question, especially by her, but in the past I had often dodged it, thinking it would be too hard for me to explain and for her to understand. I did not know where and how to begin explaining that I design app interfaces for a living, to a person who barely knows what a computer is.
So here is what I do. I take an iPad out of my bag, open a piano app and hand it over to her. She holds it for a moment trying to guess what this thing is supposed to be, like a cat who just saw a ball of wool. Simply staring at it.
I hold her hands and make her tap the screen. The sound of the note fills the void. She gasps in surprise and half afraid tries it by herself this time. The same note, the same gasp! She looks around the device to ensure where the sound is coming from. She asks me to fetch her glasses. She wears them and goes on to play some Indian classical tune that she used to play as a kid on her big piano. That is when it hits her. This is the future. I simply tell her, these are the kinds of ‘things’ I make. She smiles and a single drop of tear rolls down her cheek.
I have never seen someone so amazed. That look in her eyes of what she just witnessed was brilliant and perfect. A small piece of aluminium and glass that she could hold in her hands and play her favorite tunes on was just…magical. She had just taken a huge leap leaving behind an entire era of big computers or PCs. To her this was what came after huge pianos and analog devices. I don’t think there is any other word to describe it besides magic. She spent the whole afternoon playing with more apps on the iPad.
I often wonder if kids of today will have something that they would be this amazed by once they are old. Or that if we as creators of these tools understand this delicate fabric of magic and happiness that we weave by enabling people to do magical things in their own small and unique ways.
I don’t think I can ever forget that amazement that I witnessed in that brief moment during that summer afternoon in my grandmother’s eyes.
I hope I have something that amazes me as much when I grow old.
Originally posted on Medium