My love affair with coding

It was June of 1986. I was 10 years old and was enjoying the beginning of summer break. School year was over and mangos were finally in season. Other than the excruciating heat of Karachi, Pakistan, nothing else could have spoiled my summer break that year.

My mother, due to her own struggles of convincing her in-laws to a right to education for herself, never let an opportunity pass by for me and my sisters. She would always enrol us in extra-curricular activities by managing to raise funds – by baking cakes, hosting Ikebana classes, etc.

That summer, the community centre was offering computer programming classes for kids and my mother enrolled me. Computers! Who wants to be locked up in a room all summer? But there was something that was hard to say no to. Since, the computers had to be kept cool, the rooms were air conditioned - a luxury we couldn't afford yet. So, I reluctantly agreed to participate.

It was a small, well-lit room with 6 computer stations. One of them was considered sacred – it had a coloured monitor unlike the green monitors of the other computers and we (the young kids) were never to go near it. It was the "Apple Macintosh Series II". Wow! It looked stunning - especially the rainbow half-eaten apple logo. The buzz was about the cool graphics it created.

Back at my green terminal, things were maybe not as cool but exciting nonetheless. We were introduced to the Logo programming language where we could make a Turtle do movements. Things were not as dull as I thought. The subsequent summer, I took up a programming language called "BASIC". Had fun with it for a while, even tried the contests. How could I not? The short-listed students would get a chance to go to Singapore to compete in the finals! Long story short, I did not make the cut but it was worth a try.

Fast forward six years, it was final year of high school and I was to go to North America to get my law degree and return to Pakistan to join my parents’ practice. The plan was to get a business degree and then a Juris doctor Law degree. Well, it has never been in my nature to follow rules! I graduated in 2000 with a degree in Computer Science. With the Y2K buzz and the hype surrounding Microsoft's certified software engineering certification, the field of computer science was very coveted. I took on the exciting challenge with no fear of coding. All thanks to the hot summer where I was exposed to coding!

In the final year of university, I was determined that I would not lock myself up and write code all day. I wanted to be a consultant, help customers solve real-life problems. And that is what I did - but by writing code any way!

Fast forward 16 years, in the higher echelons of the management layer now, I no longer write code but lead teams of coders to implement large systems and often am amazed at spotting good programmers from the bad ones. And it all boils down to the training.

Last year, I had to quit the work force due to personal reasons. While I dutifully attended to family and their needs during this tough time, I was left with a void. "I could never return to work" I thought over and over in my head. There is no such thing as working part-time in this field. There is no balance I thought. But I was wrong!

My 9-year-old daughter, who is passionate about creating animations and games herself, would not allow me train her to code the "right /easy way". While she is good at what she does, I so badly wanted to train her - and voila, that sparked an idea. In a perfect world, how would I want to train her? What techniques and methodologies would I use? And that is how "Code-it Hacks" was born – to teach students not just the coding languages but the ‘art of coding’ – with a deep focus on collaboration, design thinking, leadership skills and team building.

No matter which way I go, coding is what I know and coding is what I do best! Whether I love to code so I could sit in an air-conditioned room, or do it because it is part of my career or do it to teach my daughter, it is my destiny and it remains an ever-lasting love affair!

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