Dear L,

Once travelling from San Francisco in 2014, I ended up waiting in Dubai airport for about 18 hours. The first thing I did was firing up my computer and wrote computer code until the battery ran out. Then I moved to my tablet, and started reading magazines on the internet, after a few hours the tablet ran out of power too. Finally, I turned to my phone and started scrolling through social media. Fairly soon, it’s power reserves depleted as well. I looked at my watch, and realised being a modern smart watch, it also had no power left on it’s thin lithium slices.

I went for a walk in the terminal, looking for a clock; I quickly realised I still had about 12 hours to spend, and I had no functional electronic device on me. I started looking for a vacant power terminal, and couldn’t find one. I found a little corner sports bar flaunting Heiniken, so I asked for a pint. After glugging the pint, I still had about 10 hours to go. At this point I had walked pretty much all accross the airport, twice, contemplated sea food, milkshakes and books, oggled at not-so-luxury watches and cufflinks, explained an elderly couple how to use the drinking water fountains; Pretty much exhausted all my options for entertaintment. My cigarette supply was dwindling, and the only thing available in the were long cartons of cigarettes. I never was that big of a smoker that warranted a carton purchase; Even the thought of it felt horrendous. Being completely cut off from my regular mental sustenance, instant gratifications and addictions I found myself getting restless. It dawned on me that I had become incapable of doing nothing.

I was too used to a world where there’s too much of everything. There’s always somethinig to learn, something to do, something to look at, something to watch, something work on, something to achieve, someone to swipe on, something to tap on; My mind’s plasticity moulded around the relentless barrage of “things”, it had lost it’s ability to be with itself. All my waking hours, I was stimulated by something or the other. Among incredulous advices about the “grind”, and perfectly machine curated things-I-might-like, I was like a slot car sliding through the grooves of an industry vying for our attention. And I still am the same slot car.

RSA Shorts  - The Attention Economy

It Pays to Be a Space Case - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus

I asked my students to turn in their cell phones and write about living without them

A Rocket Scientist’s Love Algorithm Adds Up During Covid-19