Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Amadeus Revisited

In my 17th year, when I was supposed to take my SPM examinations, Telekom and a host of other big companies came to my school.

They came to find malaysia's best and brightest. They would interview us, and those who excel during the interviews would be given scholarships and given a job when they graduate.

I got on some of those interviews, thinking this would make my career and fulfill my dreams of becoming super-rich and eventually be a super-hero.

I didn't get any, of course. The interviewers were perhaps a bit worried with my anti-Governemnt stance or more plausibly, they were simply not impressed.

Fast forward 11 years later, I compare my life with those who DID get the money, and I decided that I prefer being where I am. Not that I 'win' in any way, but just that I prefer to live my life this way, as they may prefer to live their lives safe in a multi-national company.

If I had taken the opportunity and excelled in the interviews, I would have been bonded for several years and I would never have joined The Malay Mail and become a writer.

Back in college, my final year project was 'An Intelligent Tutoring System for Modern Anime Literature'. Using ASP and Oracle, I constructed a system for university students to attend virtual classes, take virtual exams and for them to get assignments from the lecturer.

It even has its own e-mail and message board system.

All coded by me. Alone. From scratch. I AM THAT DAMN GOOD.

It was one of the few final-year projects that actually worked. It impressed my lecturer so much that she offered me to go to an IT convention in Portugal.

Had I gone, I would have been recruited by a multi-national company, or I could simply sell the system as a skeleton for distance learning or an added module to help lecturers - a teaching aid - in many universities.

It has its own artificial intelligence and can mark SUBJECTIVE answers, not just multiple-choice.

And as an added bonus, I made sure that the lecturer and the admin can change the content of the entire course to suit their needs. The system can also generate graphs for lecturer analysis.

The lecturer also wanted to continue developing the system after I graduated, so it could be improved and more features could be added.

If I had applied for a Masters degree, I would have gotten her backing and continue developing the system for my master's thesis and possibly a doctorate. In 10 years, it would have been ready for mass application at numerous locations.

It would also be fitting. My father was a teacher, and so is half of my family. Had I continued down that path, I would have been an evolved educator.

After thinking about it, I said no.

I had already made my decision to be a writer - consequences be damned.

So the next step was to work as a cashier at a pharmacy. I was taking in roughly 600 bucks a month.

I worked for a food guide for which the only pay I got was the food I ate during restaurant reviews.

A far cry from Portugal and all its chicks, right?

Well, the path I chose, furnished by Neil Gaiman and Lee Siew Lian and Zainal Alam Kadir and Rocky took me to The Malay Mail, later to form my own company, and then to where I am right now. A solid six years of puking blood. And writing. And dealing with people.

I often think back at those 'missed opportunities' and they do not seem like 'missed opportunities' at all. Just paths I did not take. Lives I did not live.

I am sure that in a few years, I will also look at 'missed opportunities' and see where the universe has taken me, or could have taken me.

Believe it or not, I am an optimist. I take enormous risks. I take chances. I hardly stop at 17, thinking the next card could be a 4.

I am truly Amadeus - loved by God. And I am grateful for that.

Today, my father called and thanked me. He was here for the weekend and I bought him a bunch of stuff. The biggest gift, though, was staying up all night - he complains of insomnia, yet drinks 10 cups of coffee everyday - and talking to him.

I showed him a world of wonder. A world of marvels and miracles. My vision of what the world SHOULD be.

Flying cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells. Single moms getting a triple degree from the comforts of their own homes. The television as it was intended to be - an educational instrument of great worth.

The emancipation of robots and artificial life-forms. The consolidation of the human race as a single, non-ethnic entity.

And other stuff I found on youtube.

I lived a blessed life. And I think it can only get better.