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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

My Experiments with Truth - My Darling Niece

An experience today of a friend of mine, playing a computer game with his son, reminded me of my experience a few months ago with my 6-year old niece.

She was on the iPad, playing a game. (I don’t remember what it was called, but it involved connecting dots of different colors).

Now, of the many modern-day skills that I do NOT possess, one that I am particularly inept at, is computer games. Indeed, I AM the dumbest guy in the whole wide world when it comes to computer games of ANY sort. The last game I remember playing was Pac-Man, way back in the 1980s. And I was hopeless at that too. And there was another game with bricks falling from the ceiling onto the floor, where you're supposed to to prevent the bricks from hitting the floor. When I'd play, within five seconds, all the bricks would be on the floor!

I’ve not really played a computer game since those extremely humbling moments of the 1980s. I’ve been very occasionally persuaded to take part in a game, got myself thoroughly thrashed and humiliated – and left the field, cursing myself, and vowing never to go near  one of those “things” again.

But here was my sweet little niece on the iPad – playing this game like it was 1+2. I watched her with admiration and amusement as she made her rapid moves in the game, muttering to herself occasionally, completely oblivious to the world around her.

I was happy to just be around her – let’s face it, if you want to bond with a little kid nowadays, you need to probably first bond with the gadgets and devices that they bond with. :-)

She looked up and saw me. Then, giving me the sweetest of smiles, she thrust the iPad in my hand. “Here, Raja Peppa , you play” (In Tamil, one's father’s older brother is called Peri-appa, which she pronounces as Peppa).

My immediate instinct was to run away as far as possible - but that would mean running away from her. And that, I wouldn’t ever want to do.

So I said, in as calm a tone as I could muster, “It is ok. You play. You’re doing very well”. And handed the iPad back to her.

I didn’t quite realize that when she’d said “you play”, it wasn’t a request. It was an order.

“No, peppa, YOU PLAY”. And the iPad was back in my (trembling) hands.

I looked around – there was thankfully nobody around. “Ok, so what do I have to do?” I asked her in a soft voice.

“You have to connect. Pink to pink, red to red, blue to blue, green to green”.

“Ok, let me try”.

Needless to mention, I messed up. Bad.

Red wasn’t connecting to red, not without being intercepted by blue. And, just when I thought I’d been very smart by somehow, circuitously, making the green connection, I found it totally messed up the pink line. So I had to undo it – and was soon back at square one.

I will grant it to her – she was patient to start with. Very patient. She kept muttering something under her breath – I think she'd got it all worked out in her head in five seconds, and was just repeating the steps to herself.

But the patience had to wear out sometime. Her initial encouraging comment of “You can do it, Peppa” became a “It is SO EASY!”, with a sigh and a look that clearly translated in simple English to “What is WRONG with this guy?”.

As I continued to fumble, the refrain became "Even I (emphasis on I) can do it, it is SO EASY! Peppa!”. (Children have this very mistaken impression that whatever they can do, adults can do so much faster and better. We all know how true THAT is, when it comes to computer games).

After a few minutes, she said “OK, give it to me”. Again, not a request. An order.

I was more than happy to comply with it. “Phew, THAT went well!” I thought.

But she wasn’t done yet.

She lowered one level (I think from 5 to 4) – and the iPad was back in my hands.

This now became even MORE embarrassing – clearly my targets had been lowered, because her expectations had been lowered. And that's never a particularly healthy boost to one’s  self-worth.

I will not attempt to describe in detail the next few minutes. The muttering, the expressions of incredulity at the pathetic sight that lay before her. And the constant “It is SO EASY, it is SO EASY!”.

The level went from 4 to 3. And 3 to 2.

At 2, when there was not a SHRED of self-worth left anymore to be demolished, she finally said “Ok, now GIVE it to me!” If resignation has been written on any face quite as explicitly and unforgivingly as that, I hadn’t seen it in my life yet.

My limitless shamelessness meant that I happily took the cue and gave her back the iPad, without the slightest protest of “Give me a few minutes. At this level, I should be able to do it”.

But within a few seconds, the iPad was back in my hands.

With the level ZERO.


I will not embarrass myself further by telling you how it went from there.

Good thing kids have short memories.

And, it's a good thing that, for all the advancement science has made over the years, it's yet to come up with a way to measure embarrassment.

UPDATE: After my sister-in-law read this post, she asked my niece whether she remembered this incident. And apparently she still remembers it! Ok, probably not the details, but she remembers that I tried my hand at the game. Apparently she told her Mom "He tried". I'm happy if THIS is her lasting impression of the incident. :-)


Anonymous said...

Wonderful Raja!
Your experiments with truth are bearing really delicious fruits.
The same thing happens to me with sports with teenagers and they don't have short memories!

Lalitha said...

Good one, Raja! My granddaughter, who is exactly 2 years old, can do more with the iPad than I can, and I am amazed at how the girl knows exactly how to get to the screen she wants. I hope she never tests me on her games since she will find out that her Paati is hopeless!

Ava Suri said...

That other game you mention was called bricks. I was horrid at it as well. I never mastered pacman either.

I would have trembled too, if made to compete with a child.

Against you, I might fare better.

Arunkumar Deshmukh said...

Raja ji,
What a wonderful post !
I was laughing all thru it.
I felt as if I had gone thru all that too,but slightly worse way !
Nowadays,all my grandchildren have grown up, whcih means they have different ways of making me feel embarrassed !
Somehow I feel these children want to test their grandparents in the skills which they have mastered in no time.
It was really a marvellous post indeed.
-Arunkumar Deshmukh

Marnix Wolters said...

Children are wonderful beings. They can put things in a different perspective, and make an adult realize what's important in this or her life and what's not as important. Thank you for sharing this Raja.

Anonymous said...

Hehehe!! Good one, Raja - and oh, so very true. My nephew is a computer game buff too, and is constantly pestering me to play with him (his way of showing affection is to get YOU to participate in all his activities). I always wriggle out of playing computer games, because I know I'm no good at them - the only ones I can manage are jigsaw puzzles, and a little bit of Tetris. ;-)

ratna rajaiah said...

Hahaha! Enjoyed reading this - yes, kids can really cut us adults down to size, no?

Raja Swaminathan said...

@Harvey: Ha ha. I think I can claim to have played with teenagers too, so my humiliation is complete. :-)

@Lalitha: Nowadays, they're SO sharp. At their age, I think I barely knew how to eat food on my own.

@Ava: Ha ha. Of course, you'd fare better against me. ANYBODY'd beat me at one of these computer games. :-)

@Arunji: Thank you so much for appreciating the post. You must have had LOTS of experience of such situations. :-)

@Marnix: Thanks for commenting.It was your FB post that inspired me to write this. And you are SO right - children can give adults a completely different perspective on life. And its essence.

@dustedoff: Thanks, Madhu. Sounds familiar. Nice to know I'm not the only one faced with such situations. :-)

@ratna_rajaiah: Thank you so much, Ratnaji, for visiting and leaving a comment. Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, kids can absolutely cut us down to size. :-)

Anonymous said...

hahaha. I am not surprised at all. When I think of you, video game expert is definitely not the first thing I think of. I can proudly brag that I beat my 2 year old at iPad games but the gap is getting narrower by the day. Give it another 2 years, I might have a similar story as you.


Raja Swaminathan said...

Indeed Scud. Video games and I are poles apart. I should probably be ashamed of admitting this - but I'm not. :-)

Rajesh K said...

LOL. When I was young, I was trying to figure out why elders don't fight with us kids, to play the video games. But now I understand :P