Friday, December 19, 2008

And Lo, There Was Much Rejoicing...

What a roller coaster ride. For three days now, despite assurances from the bank people to the contrary, our bank accounts have still been frozen. For three days, we've also been promised an internet connection in our new house. It's very much like dealing with the cable company, in that one must remain chained to your doorstep until the blessed technician appears to magically connect you with the rest of the world. And stay chained, you must. Hours and days pass with the constant fear that if you even go for a pee, the dude will come and see that nobody is home, and the request/promise/arrival cycle needs to begin all over again. This leaves you holding your schvantzer, which as magical as it may be, is still incapable of broadband connectivity last time I checked.

However, Ganesh must have removed some obstacle, because last night, after at least 5 promises to appear, the internet guy arrives with our new modem after the wiring crew had popped a cable through the wall the previous day. 10 minutes of setup later, he was gone, leaving me with only a badly worded service agreement wherein I am referred to as "Sri Robert William". Our email address is also hopelessly mangled in the agreement, thus ensuring the complete inability to contact us should anything go wrong. This, I have come to find, is normal. Before the obligatory head wiggle and fleeing into the night, he did say that in two hours I would be connected, and all would be well. And it very nearly was.

I was elated to find I was able to access webmail and do basic browsing, but our Vonage phone refused to work, and my laptop was the only one of the three that could get on the net. Our elation turned to dismay in a nanosecond. No amount of futzing with it could get anything else to work, so I went to bed, only to rise again at 5 AM so as to be able to email my banker about our frozen accounts. I was actually able to get a response from her, and eventually got everything straightened away. At least in theory. Then it hit me. The cable modem could only connect to one thing at a time. If a router was the first thing it saw, then all would be well. At least in theory.

Stanley, our new landlord, arrived around 9 AM to inquire about the internet, and "if you are happy". My crafty explanation of the subtleties of TCP/IP networking protocol appeared lost on this gentleman who commands a total of about 35 words of English, so I reduced it to "One more problem. Phone". He pulled out his mobile, and we called tech support (actually in India!), and within seconds, everything was reset on the provider's end, and I had Internet on all the machines, and the Vonage Phone working to boot! Huzzah!

One more call to the bank ensured that all was well with our online accounts and ATM access. It turns out that the first guy we called a few days ago using the Vonage phone in the internet kiosk did..... nothing. Laurel and I walked the kilometer or so to the nearest ATM, and did a veritable dance of joy when a bundle of rupees was regurgitated from the machine! Finally! We bought an Indian power bar, and went home to hook up our new little production office. All I have to do tonight is go and buy a mobile phone, and our setup is complete. India is mobile mad. I swear even the beggars have mobile phones. "Food, papa... foooooood. Whoops!, gotta take this call...".

It doesn't sound like much. Getting a net connection. Getting a phone. However, Laurel and I are amazed at how reliant we are on digital communication. Just being able to go away, and still carry on some modicum of business, is only now possible because of net. When we were last here in 2000, there was dial-up everywhere. Now, its all broadband, and cel phones are ubiquitous. Big change.

So yes, our world phone is on, and we can email without stepping in goat poo. I have to laugh at our perspective though. When I look around at where I am, our little problems with modems and bank cards that have been the source of so much angst for us over the last few days must seem impossibly abstract to just about everyone I see.

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