Pardon the sombre, even bitter tone to this fortnight’s column. But just moments ago I realized that my MacBook Air’s MagSafe charger has stopped working. I don’t know how you deal with crisis like this. Perhaps you are the sort of person who can laugh off such disastrous developments.

Short fuse: Always have a back-up plan in place.


Just a moment ago I was sitting in bed, the laptop gingerly placed on a tower of pillows. I slipped the adapter into a socket, clicked the connecter into my laptop, and then sat down to write.

Click! Browser launched. Click! Word processor launched. Click! Some subtle writing music plays.

Gasp! Why is the LED light on the charger not shining green?

Oh no. Not again. God.

I know what you’re thinking. Stop thinking like that. I have full right to be dramatic about this. This will be the fourth time that I have had a power module conk off. Each time the electrical incident has led to an irreversible souring of my quality of life and work, the fallouts of those incidents were expensive, both financially and emotionally.

The first time this happened was in college. After a fluctuation in power, my 120 GB external hard drive began to emit sounds like exotic animals from a David Attenborough documentary. Ten minutes or so of screeching and clicking later, there was abrupt silence. And some romantic smoke. And then nothing. No data, no power module, no smoke.

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Months of painstaking compilation of open-source multimedia vanished in less than a minute. I was heartbroken. Also this was way back in the bad old days when external hard drives cost and weighed as much as small Tata cars.

Two years or so later, on an otherwise uneventful day in Mumbai, my corporate laptop’s power adapter sparked, popped and then breathed its last. And this while I wallowed knee-deep in a brutal spreadsheet of some kind that had to be submitted the next morning. The next couple of hours were a blur of clicking and typing and checking battery levels.

Later, chastened suitably, I decided to invest in one of those universal laptop adapter devices. The device connected to a power point and had an output connector that could be mounted with an array of jacks to connect with many models of laptops and mobile phones. My rationale was manifold. First, this reduced luggage when I travelled. I hate allocating 10kg of my luggage allowance to wires and chargers and cables. Then, where is the place for giant Toblerones?

Second, this helped build redundancy. Even if any further power-charger failures happened, I had a back-up plan in order to avoid spreadsheet psychosis.

I was such an idiot.

For all I know, my requisition for a replacement laptop power charger is still being discussed at the highest levels in the head office of a Mumbai-based company. God bless them.

In the interim, I used my universal back-up charger to power my laptop. Till, right in the middle of a presentation, with all the auditory brilliance of a Ra.One trailer, my genius device blew up. Taking my laptop with it. It blew up the battery and entirely shorted the motherboard.

Since then I’ve been paranoid about power chargers. The question on my mind is never “Do I need a voltage spike protector?" but “How many protectors do I need, and should I inter-connect them to each other for safety?"

Of late, The Church Of Cupertino had just begun to allay my fears. Apple seems to put in as much thought into their power adapters as they do into their devices. Usually power modules are the mutant in-bred hobo cousins of the main device. Not so for Apple.

Have I spent the occasional half-hour whispering sweet nothings to my MacBook Air power charger? Maybe.

And now even that has stabbed me in the back. As I write I have 22 minutes of battery life left. I’ve opened everything I can and checked all the parts of my power module. Nothing seems to be wrong. Nothings seems to work. It just sits there: white, gleaming, smooth, round and sexy. Mocking me.

I don’t know how I can make you know what I feel. And even if I did, I don’t have the battery left to type it all down.

Go away. Let me be.

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