To keep the grandparents abreast of what was going on with their grandchildren, in 1986, my parents recorded audio cassettes that featured my sister and me reading books, singing songs, and talking about our friends in school. After they finished recording, I went back to the cassette player and figured out how to press record. In fact, if one replays that audio cassette, during the final minutes, the voice of a four-year-old child with a thick Indian accent asks, “Who put iiiit onnn? Whooooo puuuuut iiiiiit onnn?”
In subsequent years, the skill of pressing the record button enabled me to create my own “radio programs” and start a band. The Folk Boys consisted of a five- and six-year-old who sang an off-key and off-lyric version of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” while jumping on a bed. We didn’t sign autographs, not because we couldn’t write, but because we didn’t have any fans.
By 1995, my interest in producing audio cassettes found some competition. A video editing machine arrived in our house, and we had just returned from a trip to India with several hours of unedited family movies. Somewhere during the process of splicing clips from my cousin’s Upanayanam with a trip to கோடைக்கானல், I fell in love. Within the next few years, I produced a couple short videos for school that still make me cringe to this day.
My father took note of my interest and when I was in high school, he introduced me to a movie maker of sorts. The person in question owned a small business that produced wedding and Bar Mitzvah videos. He showed us around his studio, and I got to see what appeared to me to be sophisticated editing devices. As we were leaving, my father told me to consider interning their for the summer. He wanted me to experience a job that might interest me and one that didn’t require a college education, perhaps with the hope that it might broaden my perspective.
Instead, I ended up at a molecular biology institute extracting DNA from onions and creating phylogenetic trees on the computer. I left that summer with the feeling that I would be a biologist and computer scientist, which would require not only a college education, but potentially even a doctorate.
Ten years later, I find myself editing videos significantly more often than running molecular biology experiments.