Thursday, June 08, 2006

Knock. Knock.

A Math schoolteacher once remarked to his captive audience of listless kids that "Opportunity knocks but once in life. You better be ready to open the door". I am certain that this particular sentiment has been expressed much better by previous commentators on the human condition. However, it was the first time that I heard it. Albeit from outside the class, where I had been banished due to an unfortunate accident involving a rubber band, some paper and a little girl lacking any sportsman's spirit. I forget the circumstance that brought forth this pearl of wisdom. But given the teacher's arbitrary compulsion to inflict his age and collected wisdom upon the young things under his tutelage, it could have been something as trivial as setting up the context for a forthcoming Unit Test.

Occasionally, I have had cause to reflect upon this thought. This is inevitably followed by a melancholia that is alleviated only by marathon movie sessions, binge video-gaming or a cricket match. Who is to say that Opportunity won't come knocking when you have your headphones on, jiving to a soulful number by Cradle of Filth, as you debug the perversely creative bug you introduced in your last release. Or that you won't confuse Opportunity with that pesky neighbour who cannot decide between an Engineering and a Management career and thinks you can solve his dilemma. Or, horrors! That Opportunity knocked, got tired of waiting, and moved on to the next available door.

These unwholesome thoughts are aggravated by any mention of "Life's Goal/Ambition/Objective", "Purpose/Meaning/Reason of it all" and all variations thereof. For an individual whose governing philosophy in life has been to look for the Path-Of-Least-Resistance, Opportunity can be the ultimate bogey-man. The misery is compounded by Enterprising Folks. These are the sort of people who casually admit to making a killing in the stock-market; buying property and selling it at a fabulous premium; or chucking their jobs and taking up their life's ambition of doing Scientific Research; starting a Rock Band; becoming a Professional Cricketer or founding a Detective Agency. In short, the sort of people who wait upon their doorstep for Opportunity to come calling. More, the sort of people who are not averse to mugging Opportunity in a dark alley. Some of our seedier politicians (alright, most of them) come to mind.

An excellent example of the fine art of waylaying opportunity comes from the early life of Dhirubhai Ambani. As a clerk in a British trading company in Aden, a 20-something Dhirubhai hit upon a "sterling" idea. Ambani noticed the Riyal exchange to the Pound was lower than it's worth on the silver market. So he started buying up the Riyal coins and melting them down into silver ingots. Opportunity didn't know what hit it.

As a simple software engineer (a designation shown a strange respect by the beat constables in Delhi), I find it hard to imagine Opportunity ever finding a way to my immediate vicinity. It would first have to navigate the cunning pseudo-roads of Bhangel, where chances are it will be set upon with cudgels and sticks by the riot-prone locals. It would then have to pass the absurdly conscientous security at the NSEZ gates. If it can then convince my office security to route a call to my extension, it would have to cope with the disorientating aspect of the corridors. Surely after all that, a weary and tired Opportunity will give up at the last. You see, I don't have a door to knock.

Knock. Knock.
Who's There?
Of course not. Opportunity only knocks once.

No comments: