1 In a time and place
a time and place whose technology was just a little bit more advanced than ours, there
existed a schoolboy named Salm. The past year, on his 15th birthday, his father
had given him his own personal agent on the Net. Soon everyone will have his own
software agent, his father proudly told him then, but for now, you are one of the
privileged few who can afford this. Make good use of it, son.
His father was a busy man as was the tendency of
techno-fathers during this period and was away from home for most of the time,
notwithstanding the Office Wall in their reading room. His father would always tell him: Salm,
the world is rapidly shrinking into a thumb-size digital camera. If you do not want to be
sucked in, you will have to step out and grab other peoples hands. His
fathers thinking might have been largely affected by the fact that his father worked
as a network administrator for a long time before his company recognized his abilities to
connect people to people and people to information, and made him an information integrator
for their global clients. The only time Salm recalled his father having stayed a full
three months with them at home was a long time back, when Salms father installed the
Office Wall in the house, which made his mother happy because she thought that that should
keep her husband from traveling too much. But his father went back to his hectic travel
habits when the initial magic of the Wall had worn off.
Of course there were side benefits to all these
traveling. Every now and then, Salm and his mother would go along on a trip, which was why
Salms mother did not really object to his fathers work. In some ways, Salm
understood his fathers philosophy about grabbing other peoples hands, although
he did not really enjoy the trips as much as his mother did. The world was at once both
big and small, and it seemed that the only reassuring perspective during these moments of
realization was when one was shaking the hand of the person in front of him and staring at
his smiling face.
The company of men is like the notes on the
musical staff, his father would say. One single note played on the piano is simply
a sound. That note played repeatedly becomes a noise. But if you have a variety of notes
on the staff, then it can become a musical masterpiece.
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