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Saturday, 16 June 2012

Vietnam Diaries #1: Mysterious Death, of my virtual Pet

"It feels great to solve one of the mysteries you think you will never find an answer to…!!!"
     - Me, exclaiming after solving the mystery

Having a team at work with people from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia (and India!), who have trotted around the world for studying or while working creates a fabulous environment. There is constant commotion, a buzz - as ideas are exchanged and anecdotes shared about things and places, facts and figures, religion and politics, and life of common people. This fine day the discussion was revolving around some pet one of my colleagues wanted to pet. I found it pretty funny because the pet was a Moss! But, well, it is a technically a pet as you have to feed it, take care of it, and it grows at some 20mm per year. Looking at my 'this is ridiculous' expression, L mentioned that this is at least better that Tamagotchi which was a rage during her childhood days. 

"Tama-whatta?", I had never heard of it. And what do you mean by virtual pet!

Everyone else in the room perked up - this famous virtual pet - originated in Japan, widely popular in China, South East Asia - apparently never reached in India. I couldn't believe my ears when I was told that a virtual pet was a simple gaming console with 3 buttons - it had to constantly fed, bathed, taken care of when it was sick bla bla through those 3 buttons, and if you don't take care of it - it died (and like in real life - no second chances!). People would compete on who's Tama lived for how long. And you can also marry 2 Tamas and have children and so on ... da da da.

I was still laughing at how funny this all sounds when I saw the picture of this Tama thing. It looks like this:

So far so good, and the topic moved on to me recounting the AOE days, and how today it is all DOTA when something suddenly clicked in my mind. I announced it aloud - 

"wow, that's it - I am sure this is it. Oh, man I can't believe it. Is it really it...", I couldn't believe this was happening. I couldn't believe that this mystery that I have been carrying around in neuron connection of my brain, this mystery is finally seeing the light of the day. That too without any conscious efforts. As if Waston had once thought about DNA's structure and then one day after several years - the right answer suddenly clicked him! 

Even though I never made a conscious effort to solve this in last 16 years, 16 years ago it had baffled me so much that I still have vivid memories of it.

"When was Jurassic Park released?"
"When was this Tama thing invented"
"Dude. I think I know now"

And I ran to my desk and started googling for images until I found this.

What odds that I found this picture because, this 1997 model is rare, and in around 400-500 pictures I browsed - there's just one picture of this Jurassic Park Tama (btw, this one is up for sale!)

All ends quickly tied in: It was a gift from a Japanese chap. Little did he know that I don't know what the heck this toy is, little did I know that he did not know that I did not know what the heck this toy is. I tried playing it with several times. I thought it was some game where some chap would run around jungle trying to get away from dinosaurs and all that, but nothing like that happened. After trying to endless use the keys, and failing to figure out what these keys do - I let the toy be, thinking I will return to it sometime later. I did try playing it after some time, but it wouldn't work. I asked everyone around why - no one knew - after its death I carried it around for some 5-6 years hoping for a miracle, which obviously didn't happen until today.

I was a kid then, I did not know that pets once dead can't be resurrected. Even though they are virtual pets.

Though I doubt I would have played with this after someone would have explained me what this game was! Though gaming is a peer effect I guess.

"Imagine how much time you saved during your childhood which you would have instead wasted on this", L pointed out. True that!

When I recounted this incident to a friend, prompt came the reply: "Oh, so Farmville replaced this toy. Wow!"


  1. So, how hurt is your conscience with that realization that some (virtual) animal, supposed to be your pet, met an untimely death because you could not provide for its basic needs- food, exercise, attention etc? :P

  2. Imagine some of your (virtual) pet died. And only after 16 years you realize that it actually died. I think I should observe 2 minutes of silence.

  3. hahahaha thats funny,i guess that it's actually possible to revive that animal, hahaha, i had a colleague that revived him tamagotchi.

  4. It dies, but you can reset it at the back :P

    They used to come as different animals: fish, cat, even human (pet child!)

    1. Cool, should have known earlier. Well actually, I remember there was a reset button at the back and I used it several times to make the animal appear again. But after a few day (months?) the animal would disappear again.

      Oh, so it is possible to raise the dead. But for how many times?

    2. Raising the dead, performing necromancy, is not natural and against the wheel of nature. Do not attempt to do that.

      But seriously, you had a Japanese friend when you were about 7-8 years old? How cool!

    3. Haha. Well, dad's friend! :-)

  5. how come no one in india knows about these toys....strange !

    1. Yeah, somehow this Tama rage missed India altogether. Everyone in Japan - China and South East Asia knows about it, and probably had one when growing up!

  6. These Japs are crazy, man! Their world is more virtual than real. Virtual pets, inflatable sex dolls.. Insane!

    1. Lol. I couldn't believe until I read that such a thing could exist, and is so popular!