IT WAS a long and torturous wait. At least for me.
Ever since the iPad was launched in April, I wanted to get my hands on what I consider as one of the coolest gadgets in the world. It was smart, sleek, chic and had everything I wanted in my computer. To top it all, it was portable.
But, I was told that I had to wait for an unspecified length of time before I could get my hands on this latest offering by Apple.
Believe me, the last three months have proved to be the longest in my life.
The iPad was never on my list of most-wanted things. It was actually the eReader, Kindle to be precise. I wanted to read and own many, many books without physically owning them. There is no space left on my shelf anymore. But owning a Kindle demands many hurdles to be cleared.
So when I heard that the iPad will come with an eReader and an Amazon bookstore application, I readjusted my plans and declared my intentions to be a proud owner of the iPad instead.
My friends know this. For a long time I had displayed 'iWan iPad’ as my status message on Gmail.
I started saving up for it. Every $5 I got as change after any transaction went straight into my piggy bank.
I lapped up every news I could find on iPad, hoping to read when exactly Apple intended to introduce it to Singapore. But this gadget-crazy nation was excluded from the initial list of countries outside the US where iPad would be launched. How disappointing.
I tried coaxing a friend in the US to buy and ship the gadget for me, but she convinced me it was a bad idea.
I watched with envy as news channels displayed images of people queued up outside Apple stores in London, Tokyo, Seoul and other cities to buy the iPad. I frowned as Apple fans dressed in outrageous costumes declared their loyalty to the company and triumphantly lifted their newly bought iPads as though it were the Wimbledon cup.
My desire grew with every passing minute and I took solace in the numerous unboxing videos posted on the YouTube. Each one showered the iPad with praises, monologued about how fast, how great and how awesome the product is. Most expressed their total satisfaction with it and those who said anything otherwise, were just lying.
Those who could afford had already pre-ordered their gadget through various concierges in the US, or bought it through the grey market. I decided to wait till it was officially available at Epicentre.
My desire was fast turning into obsession (now that monster is harmful).
Finally, news came that iPad will come to Singapore in July. I went to almost every Epicentre outlet and Apple retailer in Singapore to find out more.
Some said they had no more information other than the declared month of availability. Others said I could pre-book my iPad by paying a nominal fee of $100 and wait for the product to arrive. I did pre-book, but without the booking fee, which meant, I was to be considered only after others on the list who paid the fee get their gadgets first.
On the eve of the launch, all of the outlets told me I will have to queue up. Pre-order or not, the waiting list was long and the stock was limited.
"The store opens at 10 and the queue will start from here," an Apple salesman told me on Thursday.
I was upset. Queuing up is not my style, and waiting for another three weeks for the next batch to arrive was not a thought I could endure.
When Friday arrived, I contemplated. No way am I going to queue up, so I might as well forget about it. I will wait for the next batch and not think too much.
I spent half the day Skyping with my family members, playing Scrabble online and listening to Bollywood music on YouTube. Was this my way to hide my disappointment? I don’t know.
After having lunch at Junction 8, I made my way to the second storey Epicentre outlet at Best Denki. I was hoping against hope.
A big sign displaying ‘Sold Out’ greeted me at the entrance.
More people like me had come in anticipation and had instead settled to play with the three iPads on display. I, too, held one for a brief period.
It then struck me, this is not an actual Apple store. Maybe I should try my luck at the Paragon outlet, one of the biggest in Singapore.
I rushed as fast as I could. When I reached, I found that the store was not abuzz with activity. There were no serpentine queues around the store, no excitement, no drama.
"Damn!" I thought to myself. It was too late. I cannot stroll into the store at 4 pm and expect to get an iPad.
Anyway, I walked towards the counter and asked the salesgirl with a resigned look: "Sold out is it?"
She understood what I was talking about.
‘Which model are you looking for?" she asked. My heart skipped a beat.
"16 gig Wi-Fi," I said, sounding a bit anxious.
"Have," she said.
I was shocked. I decided to stretch my luck a bit further.
"32 gig 3G," I demanded.
"Have," she said, and before my jaw could drop, she removed the gadget from under her desk and placed it in front of me.
I was speechless. Didn’t my friend tell me its sold out already? Am I really that lucky?
"I will take it," I said, trying to hide my excitement as much as I possibly could. The very next minute I gave myself away and called my friend to declare victory. It cost me nearly five times more than what I had managed to save so far, but what the heck! Who needs savings?
She congratulated me. That was the only gesture I was bestowed upon. Some people around the world were greeted with ovations and clapping by Apple staff when they bought their iPads.
I too wanted that kind of encouragement.
I wanted to jump, I wanted to scream, I wanted to hoist my iPad like the Wimbledon cup. I wanted to say to the clapping, adoring, like-minded people ‘Thank You, Thank You’. I wanted to blow kisses in the air.
But, hey this is Singapore. I settled for a quick nod of the head from the sales staff. Well, no problem. I was clapping for myself in my head.
I rushed for home to unbox my iPad in complete privacy. In my excitement to reach home as soon as possible, I misread the directions and got into a train which was going in the wrong direction. I laughed at myself and got off the train at the next stop and hurried to the opposite side to catch the right one. And in my haste, I forgot the iPad bag in the earlier train.
Here it is now, my iPad, sitting right next to me, waiting to be played with.
Rupali and her iPad PHOTO: Rupali Karekar
After a painful wait, we are finally united. I will be glued to it for at least another 24 hours. I will download apps, send mails, tell my friends about my new toy.
By Sunday, I will be over it.
But, then again, I will also be the proud owner of my very own Apple iPad. And that will last forever.