How I learnt C Programming

When I walked up four stories, four years ago, to this place which taught computer programming, I was not too hopeful of having a good time. Such places are a dime a dozen in Trivandrum, my hometown. I finally reached the top floor, and there, on the landing, I saw a pin cushion board with clippings off the internet, and I actually spent about 15 minutes reading the interesting posts, jokes, etc. Then I walked in, hoping to meet yet another stereotypical programming tutor, and instead I met this intelligent looking guy.
He got his bachelors in electrical engineering, or was is computer science?, from IIT Kanpur. Then he went to the United States, to get his Masters from Michigan (Michigan Tech.). Then, after pottering around there for a while, he came back to India, to join ER&DC, a government firm, and then he hit it out on his own with this joint that offered computer programming courses.
He must have been 30-ish when I took the C programming course that summer. He drove an old Bajaj scooter, wore Bata slip-on shoes and had short hair, but there was no hiding the intelligence in his eyes.
The first question that arose in my mind was, “Why is this guy here, in a small time computer programming training institute, when he is very intelligent, has gone to IIT and has a Masters from the United States?”. He lived a simple life, you could say by looking, and he was a very very good teacher. He used to stop after every five minutes, and ask, “Any Questions?”. That was a novelty, and he knew everything he was teaching, and gave us good assignments.
He made programming look simple.
At that point in time, I was just starting to take coming to the U.S. seriously and so I asked him for direction. He said, “Oh, these days, if someone can’t find anything to do in India, they end up going to the US. Its the easy way out.” I was surprised, since I thought going to the U.S. was difficult and something worth a lot of effort. He went on to describe how pathetic life in the U.S. is, all with a good sense of humour. He was telling me about how Indians used to drive a ridiculously long distance just to get a $5 haircut, and how the “rich” Indians in New York buy a good car, only to leave it in the drive way to take a bus or train to work, to avoid parking fees, and so on.
“I was not happy there, and I find I am happier here, this way.” So thats why he came back. By conventional standards, he was not succesful, but there was something about the man that made you feel that he was very happy, and contented, and at peace with his life, that was reassuring.
Why do I write this now, because yesterday, in my bed, I was trying to remember the people I had met in my life who I thought were successful and lived good, successful lives. I remembered him first, and thought about the things he told me, what I thought of them then, and now, now that I am in the United States.

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