I abhor power point presentations. I abhor them so much that I can’t even bear to call them ppts. Now I am lucky enough to have a day job in which I can afford to have my eyes glaze over every time one of the chaps in the management makes one of those presentations. And I am lucky enough to have never had to make one myself.
I have faith only in words, I tell my colleagues and myself. What can a power point presentation do that words can’t? And because people smile indulgently at me as one would at the village idiot who has an exaggerated sense of himself, I have managed to get away with this kink of mine; I have been able to be haughtily dismissive of power point presentations.
Devotees of the ppt will rub their hands with glee when they hear what happened to me last week. Serves me right, they’ll say. Well, it does, and it doesn’t, I think.
Last week, our eight-year-old daughter was assigned a ppt in school. They hadn’t really taught the children how to do one, assuming, I suppose — with perfect justification — that their parents would show them how. Also assuming — with perfect justification, as it turned out — that in most instances the parents would actually do the damn thing.
Of course, in Oishi’s case, there was no such hope. Having documented my disdain for power points (and, therefore, my utter uselessness at them), let me tell you that my wife’s inadequacy in the matter is even more staggering than mine.
So we left it to Oishi to do as she pleased, to not make one if she couldn’t, and then we’d see. Hardly one to be cowed by a challenge (and certainly not one to turn up at school without something she had been asked for), Oishi cracked the code that neither of her parents has managed: she rummaged around in the computer, discovered stuff, found out how to structure a ppt, went to the Internet, got photographs, wrote the text (here I must confess I helped with spellings; words, you see) and, in an evening, had figured out how to make a power point presentation, complete with a slide show.
She was thrilled. “I did it,” “I did it,” she screamed and wheeled around the room, arm raised in salute like Didier Drogba working a packed stadium at Stamford Bridge after scoring.
Watching her was a delight.
Watching the power point was a delight too. Over the next few days, she made ppts for anything that she could think of: about grammar lessons, about menus, about what she wanted to do in her Christmas holidays.
“Baba, I want to get audio now,” she told me one evening. “You like watching these, don’t you?” I nodded, surprised at myself.
That’s what parenting does to you.
(If I Could Tell You, Soumya Bhattacharya’s new novel, will be in stores from Monday)