My friend Atul is no more.
Calling him a friend is an understatement. He was much more to all of us during our days at PCQuest, and even later, both in personal and professional fronts. He was our friend, philosopher, go to guru of last resort, mentor, confidante, most ardent critic and more, all rolled into one. He has had a huge contribution in making each one us who were involved with PCQuest - analysts and readers - into what we became in later life, and in shaping our thinking about everything tech and beyond.
Atul was Consulting Editor for PCQuest for the longest period of time. But to us, a bunch of rookie kids who joined PCQuest as writers and to a whole legion of PCQ readers, Atul was the real PCQ. His column Comversations was the final word in all things telecom and he was the final word in all things Linux and open source.
Atul brought passion into everything he did. Our relationship with Atul would easily cross over from the professional into the personal sphere; and he was always there for us in times of crisis and in times of happiness, with advice and help. When my grandmother passed away in the night, it was Atul who took charge and made the arrangements for me to fly back home early next morning. When I was getting married, Atul was there, and the photos he took that day are still up at his website. There were times when we just did not talk. That was a comfortable silence. And there were times when we just poured our hearts out to each other. I lost count long back, the number of times I have pinged him past midnight to pour out my woes and my angst, both about tech and about other personal stuff. And long back I also lost count of the number of times we fought sulked and made up. Like his LinkedIn profile says, that was what Atul was: irrationally committed!
Kicking and screaming, he would carry us across newer thresholds of knowledge time and again.
Even while putting up a brave fight against cancer, a fight which during our last meeting he confided that he is unlikely to win, he chose to celebrate life and the things he loved -his family, his friends, tech, music, food... He chose to be passionate and positive. Every time the hospital staff asked him how he was, he would laugh and reply, "I would not be here, if I were well"!
Just a few days back he had pinged me asking when I was coming to Bangalore next. I was to be in Bangalore on the coming 6th. That meeting will now never happen. And the comfort of knowing that I can ping him on IM anytime is no longer there.
To a whole generation of technologists and technology enthusiasts that Atul helped create, enthuse and mentor, analyzing and understanding technology and its future directions will definitely not be the same again.
(The author is ex-editor of PCQuest, a Cybermedia publication)