Sunday, 18 November 2007

Well so the last time we met, I had collected my luggage from the conveyor belt (can’t remember now which one) and had made my way to the waiting cab and the guest house. The ride to the guest house was for most part uneventful and I can summarize my cab experience as that of riding a giant roller coaster ride. More often than not I felt I would be thrown off and killed while at other times I was worried sick for the lives of my fellow denizens (the poor people on the road). The driver drove with a vengeance against whomever and whatever dared cross his path and aimed with the intention to run over the poor souls.

But anyways I reached the guest house and rang the bell. The door was opened by a very sleepy and hassled caretaker who must be about 16 years of age. He welcomed me to the villa and showed me my room. Soon enough the realization of still being alive after the BA flight and the cab ride sank in and the mortal sensations of fulfilling my official duties and cravings of hunger and thirst started nagging at me. I asked the caretaker (Raju this point onwards) if there was anyway he could get me some toasts and if I could have internet in here. I was delighted to the point of being ecstatic when he replied in affirmative to both of my questions. While I was busy unpacking my stuff I heard some clitter clatter outside my room which was followed by a brusque knock followed by a walking hodge podge of entangled wires, a router, a cordless phone (titled Reliance), electrical adapters, extension cords, plugs and voltage converters and somewhere between all this a still sleepy and a little haggard – Raju.

The poor chap had brought the entire ensemble to my command! I was seriously in no mental state to deal with this. I just let him do his job and he deftly connected everything with a precision and expertise that suggested that he is quiet used to the entire exercise. Soon he was finished and invited me to connect my laptop to the “internet”.

At which point I realized that this was a wireless router and he didn’t have to “uproot” this entire assembly from wherever it was located in the villa and that all I had to do to connect to the “internet” was to simply power up my laptop and switch on the wireless adapter! I felt so sorry for Raju and was about to explain this whole thing to him as kindly as I could when suddenly the ground shook, walls rumbled, windows rattled and the air became thick. It was as if a volcano erupted somewhere in the vicinity creating this violent turbulence in the hitherto calm and peaceful ecosystem of Bangalore. I was frantically looking for something to hold onto, to steady the ground beneath my shaking feet when a voice originated from as if the very deep core of the earth carried itself on the suddenly hot thick air as if it owned the air as well as the entire atmosphere and along came a cry which reverberated in the very walls of the villa and the bowels of the earth and yelled – “RAJU”! Damn! The guy knew demons from the underworld or something man and they called his name and I had made him get all the router etc…damn damn and more damn!

On hearing his name, Raju turned on his heels promptly but his face didn’t betray his inner state whatsoever that might be. I seriously had no idea what to expect when the door to my room flew open and hair disheveled, feet thumping, voice booming, arms flaying strode in this American (special emphasis here) lady who was pretty pissed about something and made no efforts to hide it. She gave me a very amusingly contemptuous stare (re’r my all black attire?) and a menacingly quizzical look to Raju and then her eyes found the ensemble of wires, phones and routers. She turned to face me, her eyes punching burning holes through the fabrics of my clothes onto my skin and she asked me “What is going on, what have you done to the internet?” Note please that there wasn’t a slightest attempt at familiarizing oneself with a complete new person, no concern for unnecessary social protocols or salutations but a straight line of approach towards the most important thing in question – the internet!

PS: I was seriously intimidated here (remember the Jamaican? Id have taken him down like I made that kid see my shoe).

I gave her one of my most polite (read respecting) smiles and tried to introduce myself. I tried to explain that I have just moved in and I needed to get in touch with my office and Raju here was trying to help me achieve that. Well she wasn’t impressed but of course and instead said that this all has made her lose her connection with the HQ in US and that she is now would have to do so much again and again and blah blah blah blah…… The most curious of her accusations was that since I had plugged in a wire to the Ethernet port of the router straight to my laptop, this had made the wireless network ineffective and had thus disconnected her. Obviously the fact that the router had no power for about 20 minutes while all this was going on had little or no importance at all. What all mattered was that Ethernet wire going in from the router to my laptop.

Well by this moment now I was to hassled, haggard, tired and dead beat to argue about anything with anyone. I invited her to kindly (notice my still sticking to the social protocols) feel free to do whatsoever she deemed best even if that meant her kicking my sorry butt (okay so not really decent anymore now am I?) out of the villa and on the road in addition to probably reporting my scavenging of “her” internet to the company HQ in the US and maybe write a formal letter of complaint to the president of India, the US, the queen of Britain while filming my uttermost cruelty of stealing “her” internet on a video camera and selling it off to all the news channels in the world and then calling up all my friends, families, associates, colleagues, managers and my entire social circle to tell me what a heartless, sad, mean, self centered pathetic excuse of a human being I am who didn’t pause to think the entire permutation combinations of his actions on the entire human race or who didn’t consider all the pain, suffering, torture and stress he would inflict on his fellow villa occupier (whose existence he didn’t know off mind) before he requested to be connected to his office to check his emails.

Jeez!

Raju disassembled the whole menagerie again and no sooner that they were out of room that I closed the door and crashed on the bed. The moment I got to my office I wrote this email to my manager which I am copying here. Have a laugh, everyone else did!

"

And so my stay in Bangalore hasn't really started with a bang of excitement, well not at least of the right kind! Some whigmaleerie fancies apart I wanted to get your approval on some basic Darwin defined survival of the fittest kind requirements.

The guest house is far away from the city. Errr....think like that remote corner of Horsell where you can only reach on foot. Now remove the foot option because there is no solid road, all that there is a puddle of some sorts wherein cabs the size of land rovers can float by Harry Potter style wizardry. Cool eh? Office has a cab to drop me back to the guest house in the evening but I am told that I would have to leave at 4:40 IST since the guest house is kinda aloof and all cabs are busy at the normal office leaving hours. My only option to stay in the office till normal working hours is to take a cab (private) back to the guest house in the evening which would cost around 3-5GBP per day.

For dinner I have to somehow make my way to the city which I did try last evening by taking a bus. I never thought I would enjoy so much the sensation of being kidnapped, handcuffed, gagged and taken to some hitherto undiscovered parts of this planet! To return back to the guest house I hitched a few rides. Managed to reach the guest house at about 12 in the night and woke everyone up. I now understand the exhilarations of near death experiences and possess a new respect for life. It was one of those clichéd Hollywood types "real learning experiences". Not to mention that people now go "Holy shit! You actually managed to travel in a bus in Bangalore" and look up to me as Paul Revere or someone. I am beginning to like this new attention to be honest.

So my options to food are

a) Do not eat : Great to lose weight but I'd rather exercise

b) Push my luck every night: Try picking the right bus and hope to Lord that I have enough left in me to hitch rides back.

c) Take a cab: Kchiiiinnggg!! costs about 8-10 GBP for a return trip.

d) Pay the keeper to cook food in the guest house: Great! But he is leaving for his village this weekend for about 2-3 months. There is someone else who would take his place but don't know about whether that bloke can cook or not. As it is the guest house (survival?) guide says that lunch and dinner will not be served in the guest house.

I am inclined to use option (c). Any thoughts?

And I trust you would have seen my email about using telephone in the guest house. Long story short, there is no cellular network and without some kind of a number I can only call within Bangalore. Pity I don’t have relatives here and our London office is not in Bangalore. Tsk tsk!

Good man Thomas that he stayed with Special K!

All this apart I am enjoying immensely. Would send a postcard soon!

Now a special word about “Billie” a.k.a. the monster internet lady. We became good friends within a couple of hours on the breakfast table that very morning and it seems that she was having a particularly difficult morning when I landed in the villa. We had real good fun for about 10 days that she was there with me which included gate crashing a hotel’s private bar, having strolls amongst probably very shady areas of Bangalore etc. She is a real nice lady and she has my complete respect and admirations (well okay intimidation too!). I would have had a real bad time in Bangalore had she not been there. And Billie if you are reading this, well I told you I would write about you! You can put in your comments(your side of the story) on this blog about this post by clicking the link which shows how many comments are on this post right now. Look immediately below this post. I have enabled anonymous comments so you dont have to reveal your email id or anything.

Kill me the next time ok? :D

10 Comments:

  1. annie said...
    Hehe..i await for her side of the story, it at all she comments. Din't know IT cos. are so pathetic wid hospitality. Change ur profession....lol.
    annie said...
    *if
    John F said...
    LOl! Well Annie we dont really work for an IT company. The firm we work for is pretty cash rich and the villa was exotic! The problem was that our visits came during a time when the company shifted its Bangalore office to a new facility and moved its guest house vendors as well. The guest house was ran by the owner who was paid around 4000 USD per month. The trouble was that no one had the time to check whether the guest house had all the facilities which were mandatory for the visiting officials.

    I was given the option to move into a hotel the very same day but owing to Billie and all the fun we were having together I decided to stay in the guest house itself.

    I dont know how Ashu's manages her templates but I would have loved to post some pics of my villa with this post. Can anyone please give a small help here? I know how to include pics in the post but how do I manage the length of my posts with pics in them!
    Mirage said...
    Hahahaha!

    I always thought B'lore was a terribly boring place, but with your description, I think its extremely lively on the contrary! Though now, it prevents me even more from visiting it! :P
    John F said...
    Its the man and not the place Mirage ;-)

    But you must visit it once, like every other place on this planet it does have its positive and negative aspects!
    Ashu said...
    Funny enuf....welcome to india sir!!!
    Balanarayan said...
    Hello Mr Kennedy

    I am from Bangalore Mirror. I wanted to know if I could use this post of yours for the Blog Talk section in our paper... Pls do let me know if you are okay with it; my email id is nt.balanarayan@gmail.com
    annie said...
    Hey John..Ya i purposely edited some bit..not just urs but some others too. I appreciate ur concern..gimme some time..either time will get me somewhere or i'll myself say one day - I let go. Gimme some time..
    the mnster internet lady said...
    Well - as the
    the monster internet lady said...
    Well, He was right about me being pissed. I had worked hard through the night and had to get up early to meet a deadline. The wireless ruoter sat outside, in the hallway so everyone could get access to it.
    Apparently Nicks wireless was off in his computer and he needed to plug directly in to the computer, so Bagju ( the house keeper) had gotten it for him to use in his room.
    When I woke, to continue my work I could not connect. I looked in the hall way and the router was gone. I looked down stairs and it was no where to be found.....so
    I called Bagju ( I didn't yell but perhaps I expressed myself in a strong voice). Bagju opened the door to Nicks room and there lay Nick sprawled on the bed (in black) with his compter plugged into the house router with headphones drapped over his head. I admit I was not in the best of moods by now and having just woken up a little worse for the wear. I may have suggested that he was hogging the internet or something to that effect and that perhaps when he plugged into the box it disabled the wireless. I did not enter his room, that would violate the privacy rules of the road. (we all have to have some space to ourself). We wound up sitting at the table outside of his room. I relized he had the look of fear in his eyes. He suggested something to the effect that he thought I was going to sprout tentacles any second, so I decided I needed to start rephrasing my words before I scared him to death. I calmed down and he started breathing again. I gained a good friend and a funny story to share back home.

    But, speaking of funny stories ask him about the time he let me make a fool of myself at a local hotel. He speaks 5 languages (including the local one) while I speak only 2, neither of which the receptionest spoke. I tried to bluff our way into the holtel bar while he stood back laughing. Now all of the hotels in Bangalor have a wanted poster of me hanging in their back offices.

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