Published in The Tribune, 22nd Feb, 2010

Passwords are as much a part of life today as are mobile phones, multiplexes, reality shows, T-20 matches and SMS promos. One needs them for almost everything; to log on to the computer, to e-mail, to use an ATM, for internet-banking and even to pick up movie tickets.

The result is that either one tends to select a single uncomplicated password or one tries to think up exotic and multiple ones for different outlets. The drawback of the former is that when one uses one’s date-of-birth or the name of the wife’s preferred hand-lotion, while both are easy to remember, they are also easy for a hacker or mischief-monger to detect!

On the other hand, the adventurous option could lead to uneasy and even unpleasant situations. For if one tries to innovate too often with passwords, in order to make each one unique and thus difficult to hack, one tends to forget the magic-words when they’re really needed.

I for one keep landing up in situations wherein I’m not able to recollect whether my Bank Balance can be checked by typing in ‘Federer-is-the-best’ or if ‘Mulligatawny-soup’ was the correct password. On other occasions I may end up staring at an ATM machine, and also swearing at it, while wondering why triple ‘8’ does not work and neither does quadruple ‘6’. The result being that the queue of gentle people outside the ATM booth transforms itself into a horde of unpleasant persons, as I spend ages inside the box, but still end up penniless and looking very sheepish as I exit with my ears firmly closed!

Creative passwords can also land one into trouble at times as I discovered when my wife called me one day and asked for my password in order to check an urgent email (I don’t know why she never uses her own email id!). As luck would have it, I had changed that password very recently and had used the name of a beautiful young heroine for it. Imagine my plight as I came out with it! Quite predictably my wife’s tone changed dramatically on hearing it and she slammed down the phone.

The worst case scenario came true however on the day when I had to make a presentation before a high-level committee. As my turn came, and I switched on my laptop, I realized to my horror that I’d forgotten my new password. I tried ‘Tendulkar-is-supreme’ and ‘Kareena-Katrina’ but they did not work. Still clueless after trying out many other fancy ones, I looked up at my select audience and noticed some of them whispering into each other’s ears while others began to snigger.

“Not good!” was my only thought.

Gritting my teeth and summoning up reserves of memory hitherto undiscovered, I finally hit upon it and typed it in frantically.

‘Rocket-Singh-is-King’ clearly saved the day for me.