so…on wednesday, i got a chance to have coffee with steve wozniak. i follow him on foursquare and i noticed that he happened to be in new york city because he was a special guest at gizmodo gallery earlier this week. i decided to shoot him a note to see if he wanted to get together. my goal was to invite him to visit the hq to surprise team foursquare (always. be. loving.) but he had a busy schedule. luckily, we were able to set aside some time for coffee on wednesday morning.
i will always remember this as one of the greatest moments in my life. we talked for a while – about travel, about gadgets (we compared notes on our favorites and the crazy watches we both like to wear), about the “other” steve and about apple history. i obviously wasn’t around for the early days of apple, but from what i know from stories i’ve read, he seemed to be every bit the man he was back then. he had such love for technology and such energy for telling stories. i imagined him as the same energetic guy he was back in the late 1960s, before all we know of him came around.
he reminded me a lot of my dad and his non-stop energy for all-things-technical. my dad too was a tinkerer and an engineer at heart, even way back when he lived in india. legendary in the family are stories of how he built, from scratch, toys like smoke alarms and short wave transistor radios. (one story tells of how he and his brother would use their radio to listen to chinese broadcasts from home during the sino-indian war).
i’ve been slowly working my way through the steve jobs biography and i couldn’t help but get caught up in the romanticism of the 60s. i imagined what it would have been like to have been around in “silicon valley” back in those days. the jobs biography mentions how baby steve was adopted from michigan to california. it briefly mentions the idea that if he hadn’t moved to california, how different the last three decades would’ve been. there were so many smart, like-minded guys all living in close proximity and dreaming about the future – and more importantly, working together in small ways to build that future.
it then got me thinking about this idea of the “being in the right place at the right time”. i wondered what my dad would’ve done if he’d grown up in california in the 60s instead of india. i couldn’t help, as i read the book, but draw parallels and to imagine my dad as one of the engineers and hackers living in those times.
no matter whether you believe in fate or free will, they both affect many paths in life: from the college we go to, to where we live, to the jobs we take and to the people we run into and with whom we become friends and lovers. but i think the most powerful of these factors is location – where we are now and where we choose to live. i think that location, more than anything else, is a powerful determinant of which path one will take in life.
i sometimes think about this, having made the move from india to america so long ago. i want to say my family thought about moving to other places in the world: dubai, singapore, london. but the usa was the path we chose. from india to connecticut, to massachusetts and then on to new york. and if you want to get really local: from my uptown, big company life to my downtown, startup life. and i think about where my path is going in future.