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Chasing a stolen laptop, a techie's hunt with the police

27-year-old Bengaluru techie travels across 3 cities over four days to find his stolen MacBook

Alnoor Peermohamed  |  Bengaluru 

To the hills and back: Hari CM | Photo: Twitter profile
Hari CM  | Photo: Twitter profile

Hari CM, an unassuming 27-year old techie living in Bengaluru, suddenly found himself to be the star of several memes (internet gags) on micro-blogging site Twitter. Fellow techies and friends compared to Liam Neeson’s character in the movie Taken for his determination to find things that us regular folk would just write off.

“Wherever you are, I will find you, and will get my MAC back,” read one of the memes, with the text overlaid on an image of Hari that’s anything but intimidating.

The protagonist of this story didn’t fight off the Russian mob to get his daughter back, but traveled across three cities over four days to find his trusty Apple MacBook. When asked why he did it? A reluctant Hari says, “I am nothing without my code,” almost as if he sensed sarcasm at the other end of the phone.

“The thing is, I used to be a software engineer and even though I’m handling operations now I want to get back to engineering. All my code was on that laptop, I hadn’t saved most of it online,” said Hari.

Bengaluru, the IT capital of India, is what it is today not because of the infrastructure, or the pleasant weather, or favourable government policy, but because of its dedicated workforce. Bangaloreans as I like to say, live and breathe code everyday.

Hari’s travails begun a few weeks ago when he misplaced his laptop while organising an event for HasGeek, his current employer. He filed a police complaint and like all of us, he assumed the chances of getting it back were pretty slim. (They were)

Fast forward to roughly a week later and his hopes of retrieving his laptop were suddenly rekindled. He received an email from Apple informing him that his laptop was used in the city of Mysuru. Hari immediately contacted the police, but was aware that statistically finding his device because it popped up just once was bleak. He needed to see a pattern.

The Bengaluru police was “very proactive and helpful” he said. The cyber cell put him in touch with an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) from Mysuru, but due to PM Modi’s visit to the city everyone was busy. That made Hari delay his travel, but doing so helped him get more leads.

The laptop resurfaced at Male Mahadeshwara hills, a quaint temple village on the hills around 60 kilometers from Mysuru, a natural habitat for wild elephants.

When the laptop popped up again within three hours under a tree right near the temple, Hari jumped at the opportunity. Was it divine intervention? I did not ask Hari if he was a religious man, so we really don’t know.

Long story cut short, Hari was able to, with the help of the local police, get his hands on the phone number of the person who was in possession of his laptop. The person, who he found out intended to sell it, had purchased it from someone for Rs 25,000 in Bengaluru. “Since he was an innocent person from a small village near MM Hills, I didn’t go through with filing a case,” he said.

When applauded for his efforts, Hari plays down the moment saying his story wasn’t worth telling. “If you ask me, gather intelligence and hand it over to the police. Let them do the leg work,” he said with a sense of amusement at what he’d just done.

Yes, it was his code on that laptop. Code he had painstakingly typed out; code that would help him with achieving his career goals. Yet, I refuse to acknowledge that was the only reason one would subject themselves to what Hari put himself through.

I didn’t bother fishing for any more answers though, because to me, Hari is one of those personalities in the tech community that lives by his keyboard, one among the thousands and lakhs of unassuming guys and girls that makes my home city of Bengaluru what it is today.

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First Published: Mon, January 11 2016. 13:16 IST