In the last year, Teja and I, between us have erased entire hard disks 3 times, by mistake. There have been smaller misdemeanors on my part, erasing files, moving them around, which specially with Final Cut Pro, creates havoc.

Anyway, the last mishap was at Baroda, just a couple of hours before a large screening of KAPHAL, where after spending the entire day in setting up the projection, I managed to erase the movie file we were going to use for the projection in a matter of a few seconds. That we did manage to find an alternative BluRay system, which turned out better for the projection quality is not the point here.

The point is that even people like us who have been using computers for 15 years now, mess up. In fact, I have been using a computer for even longer, from the days of a word processor, to a PC, then a clunky G4 which we would have kept for its visual value if only we had more space, and which came from the days, when there was only one person we knew of, in the entire city, who understood anything at all about MACs, and when pleaded with, showed up after days.

The day after I deleted the movie file, I sat down with Ba’s iPad. Both of us got our iPads around the same time, a year ago. For many years, we have been trying to initiate Ba into the world of computers, with little success. I had heard many friends say that their parents got used to the iPad in a jiffy, despite being computer illiterate just like Ba. So we thought that she would be able to use it more.

But her use remained sporadic. It got really used only when someone or the other in the family borrowed it from her for a few days.

This is not to say, that my own use of the iPad went beyond playing Sudoku, or checking my email. The update OS message had been showing up on my ipad for months, but I was terrified of updating, that old friend the G4 still dictating my virtual decisions.

When Dhanno did update the OS for me, it was like owning a new iPad. She changed the wallpaper, showed me a few more apps, sat me down and explained to me how some functions were so easily accessible, where I didn’t need to go 1, 2, 3, 4, I could go to 4 just like that. I determined in the New Year that I would learn to use my machines more than I did, and get over the fear that a computer could explode with a press of a random key.

So coming back to Ba’s iPad, I realized it was logged into my brother-in-law’s Apple id, for the last 6 months, from the time he had borrowed it, and given it back, without logging out. She was receiving all his mail, and was not able to access her own mail, she could not figure out what was happening, and the iPad remained shut down in frustration.

In the meantime she had forgotten the little she had learned.

I logged into her Apple id, cleaned up her iPad, deleted stuff that was not hers, added contacts, made it a little more accessible to her. We went through some basics again. All of us, at some time or the other, have spent time with her trying to make her understand how computers work. She is smart, and not a technophobe. But I realized that we were explaining things to her, assuming a lot from what we knew already, not realizing that so much of it, even our language and terms are unfamiliar to her.

The fact that the iPad does not have a manual, does not help people like her. And telling her to go look for help on the internet, is like asking someone who doesn’t know how to pack the potholes to make a flyover.

Anyway she’s back again on the net, sending us photographs. And now she can cc all of us on a mail. Now all we have to teach her is not to switch off the iPad every time she is not using it.

And here is Teja, serious as ever about the business of flying kites. Photos by Ba.