Thursday, November 18, 2010


When I was a teen, I thought Franklin W. Dixon was the greatest author ever. He had churned out truly captivating books by narrating the adventures of Frank and Joe Hardy, also known as Hardy Boys. To write in such a way that a particular age group of the population laps up the literature is indeed an amazing art. I have read over 100 Hardy Boys books and it always intrigued me how one person can write so many novels at such a rapid pace. The answer came a good decade later. There really was no one called Franklin W. Dixon. It was just a pen name used by many authors! No wonder the writing style differed across books!

Funny, huh?! A fictitious author who writes really good fiction! But then I guess the majority of the success of Hardy Boys should really go to Leslie McFarlane who started the series, and without doubt, it is the first few books in the series that were really fascinating.

I guess teenage is the age when solving puzzles becomes a craze. It is ‘the thing to do’. And why not? It is fun, it is fulfilling and it is exhilarating. Hardy Boys introduced me to nice and simple literature on sleuthing. Just about the same time, I used to see Remington Steele, but being new to the US accent, I couldn’t understand half the cases nor how it was solved. Cluedo was very interesting. So was Kharamchand. And Derrick. And Tehkikaat. But more than the soap, I liked the smell of the book as I flicked page after page of murder mysteries. There was something about “investigation”, of “finding clues”, of “solving a case” that seemed enchanting, like a world of its own.

But I never dreamt of becoming a detective. It was good only in TV and books. Little did I know that I would almost end up becoming like a ‘detective’!

For, most of what I do in my day-to-day life is finding resolutions to issues, which can be roughly translated to ‘detecting’ and ‘investigating’! I rummage through hundreds of thousands of software code to find that problem statement which is causing havoc. True, it is not a matter of life and death, but it sure is a matter of bread and butter!

As the joke goes, 99% of the money is to identify where the fix should be and 1% of the money is for the actual fix. In most cases, the actual fix is very minor in software. Once, after 2 days of struggle, I found the fix for a critical issue was just addition of one single enter character! Such is the nature of the work! So, the crux of the work is in ‘debugging’.

But to think in a broader sense, I guess this is common in all fields of work. In every job lies a problem of sorts, an issue. Be it medical or engineering. And the nature of the job is to find the resolution, to investigate the matter and solve the case. In each job, as I have said before, there shall always lie, temporarily, the feeling of helplessness and the matter of ‘I don’t know’ which is so annoying and frustrating…

…but only until the case is solved and makes one say “Quod Erat Demonstrandum”.

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