Saturday, March 01, 2008

Three Days and Three Nights: I

February 27, 2008

The day was bad: started off at about 08:45, when I came out (it was all suspiciously silent, feeding time), Bobby was transporting kiddo lifting her by her arm-sockets, and kiddo was wailing after a fashion. Bobby disappeared into the kitchen, placing her in my supervision, candidly stating that she’d only just thrown up.

It was in the guest room, I tidied it up, as usual. The day had begun.

At the office, things were rather normal.

Downloads a bit slower, it was all a mite dulled.

I went to IT Cell first, and noticed CSB there. CSB was asked by AGM to send the latest SSANet package to Arunachal. And CSB tremblingly replied that it was 36 MB (as he said so, he pointed and clicked the zip file, which said, 35.6 MB). Immediately I extracted the file to a folder. As it was being inflated, I noticed the name of an older AVG executable. I checked up on DOS and found three executables: the AVG executable, the largest at about 16 MB, and then an update file, at about 6 MB, and an SFX file of SSANet itself.

Regular gossip at teatime. Teatime was 10:45. There was tapioca for tea, but I didn’t consume. CM sad something about AGM having gone for tea on his own, and not as part of a group. Whether he was ranting I do not know, but when we returned from tea we promptly found AGM and the others (GVM, CSB) waiting for the elevator.

Various odd jobs, some tweaking the new 125. Now it was placed with the servers in the server room, and it had its own chair and table. It looked downright inviting, it was a very professional job from SM.


Downloaded QT4/Windows executable. There were two executables, one which included mingw and the other which didn’t. I cancelled one, thinking I was downloading the one with the mingw compiler. (Evidently I was not.)

I downloaded this as ‘it’ at 36. I didn’t share the folders. (Wasn’t really busy or something.)

It was some time before I shared the folders.

Then, after my travels, I came back to my seat at 1510. I tried connecting to 36. I connected to it and found that I could see the folders on explorer, but I couldn’t open these. (Foiled again!)

And then, close to closing time, I had to run back and copy them to flash drive. And then SM shared these folders. So now they must be properly accessible, didn’t have the time to check ‘em out.


At MBH. Finally I’m here. There was a bit of deliberation on the ‘bike. But I guess I was relatively loaded, the pink note tempting me too much for its own subsequent exchange and devaluation. The pink note always holds out a special suicidal fascination for me. The temptations won out.

Balacahandran Chullikad at MBH, poring over the books. At first I didn’t really notice it when the owner’s leading son (he must me the main partner now) introduced (sold) hilself thus to a prospective customer: ‘I am Sudhir, and it was I had called you, Sir.’ I had selected three books (one each by Virilo, Badiou, and Deleuze) and was making for the computer section.

I noticed the poet (again chaperoned by Sudhir, who was selling himself, presenting books by Jose Saramago. And he added with a sigh, “Saramago’s new book is coming next week… ‘Jesus’’ Last Sigh’[1].” Balachandran was not in the least interested in Saramago. (In my observation he’s not comfortable with translations, not comfortable with English in general.) I had to execute a complicated pincer-turnign procedure to extract Elison’s Invisible Man from the same table.

Sudhir returned with a book in his hand, a slim volume, and continued his emendation: ‘This is a valuable book…there’s nothing quite like it in Malayalam… short can concise, yet complete.’ Balachandran tried his best to hold on to his solitude (his prized possession, much like a Matador prizes the limp in his feet), and Sudhir furthered his cause, his self-mollification: ‘…there were books like these, but they were not deep.’ ‘To write small and complete books, one needs to know the subject thoroughly…’ ‘Undoubdtedly… and big guns would consider it under their stature to write small books…’ ‘Yea, you’re quite right.’

I never noticed what he bought, but I did notice a few books by Saramago (or was it Llosa?), books which I’d myself seen on the shelves a few minutes earlier.

In between, my friends the shop assistants sold books to a couple of persons.

Sudhir’s younger brother (whom I call Sumit for convenience) talked to a doctor about some problems he has. ‘…when you take flucanazole for the headache…’

‘Would you be practising under a name board…that is, have you put up a signboard to your practise? Are you practising that way?’

To which the confused young doctor replied something which I didn’t catch. He was rather tall, about 175, fair, and was lean. He looked angular and very sharp, and was maybe 40 years old, certainly looking more careworn than his true age. He left afterwards.

The tall SA who spoke in a Trivandrum dialect was advising a cautious parent on choosing a book for his ward sitting for the entrance examination (once more, didn’t really catch which). ‘This is a very popular book, but it requires a lot of time [to complete]. …And this one over here, it consists of 30 practise tests. If he’s short on time, this would do…’

I finally chose the books by Ellison, Badiou, and Virilio. I discarded Dialogues II by Deleuze (a mistake I now regret.)

At the counter, I turned over the books gingerly, Sumit was making a call and stood tall. I gingerly turned over the books in a window between the books and the cable of the ‘phone. Then I dropped back to look at the books again. There were compilations from Gibran and others, all in library edition and looking very pretty indeed. But it was after all Gibran…a much disseminated idea was also a diluted one, and the done thing. (And all this reading and writing and talking…just to gain exclusivity, just to stamp our uniqueness…)

‘four-thirty-six’ I heard intoned, and with a satisfied inward smile I quietly handed over the pink note. The lady was immaculate in her countenance and endearing when she turned up her head and said, ‘It was a 1000-Re bill wasn’t it…’ before handing me the change. I carefully put the invoice with the books in the plastic bag, and the money in my purse, and walked down the stairs.

I found a bicycle parked very near to my motorcycle. I lifted it up and placed it a few feet north, and proceeded back. I noticed a white couple stare at the building in what qualified as something more than a cursory glance, and also saw them quickly make up their mind and walk briskly away (because when I’d turned the corner in my ‘bike I did not catch sight of them). I had a very good mind to go after them and tell them this was the best bookstore in town…

And when I’d turned the corner and come away a few dozen feet, I noticed another young white couple. I chose to turn north again.


As I returned, Pradeep (the odd-jobs guy who looks like a Bihari) asks me for a hundred rupees… ‘It’s the end of the month Sir, will return it when I get the salary…a hundred rupees…yes?’

I smile, and I pick out a note from the sheaf in my purse. Maybe that smile was all internal, and no trace was left on my face… and I walked up the stairs to find none of my IT Cellmates at their cubicles. I noticed that SM was reading Tea? So be it then.


As I was leaving ITC, SD asks me (almost in an aside): ‘Give us a server to test these things on, Hari…’

It doesn’t hurt any more to say things have split unevenly and cleanly. (Cleanly, because the split was very logical.) There are now three or four distinct factions, with a general realignment of forces based on gender when the need to agglomerate comes. But that’s as far as coming together goes; the ‘ladies’ seem to have formed factions, they were always divided into factions, but they seem strangely galvanized now, because of the need.

I replied, on the spur, that their requirements for .NET and so on precluded any such arrangement (namely, Win 2003 Server was needed, which we didn’t have). I don’t know how she read into my words, quick as they came. It’s unlikely she read them lightly. It’s not important anyway.


And, just as I was leaving, I went to SM’s, to copy the QT executable. He was brooding over the EXP/IMP options, and he asked me why they’d specified it necessary to SET the oracle SID. I tried explaining to him that on a Windows box, the ORACLE_SID parameter is not set in the environment anywhere (it is taken from the registry).

(It was at this point that the files were copied and the folders shared.

(And as I was leaving, SD remarked to me about the test server. She was talking to TNR, whose 125 now held the test database. For all her rants and complaints, she’d still not transferred her tables to a more stable DB.)


Returned home. (Rethika, the happenings on the badminton circuit, Sherin and Kunjunni, Sr Varkala atop the gate. I tap the gate slightly before pushing it open, and he lifts his feet. Feeding baby. Mom. Dad sneaks up right in, baby doesn’t see him. After an initial reticence, they’re in it thick.


It’s potatoes today. She throws up in the drawing room, almost at Father’s feet. I clean it up.

Baby has been fed. She’s now out with Granma and Granpa for a little trip in the limo.


Baby and grandparents are back. I go out and take her in, Grandpa and Granma slip away quietly. She inquires after them, but I’m able to change the subject.

I place her on my lap and we listen to music. Hindi music at first, but then on she grows calm and then she grows sleepy. Finally I turn on Leftfield, which she refuses to listen to after about 10 min.

Bobby comes over, well before the time, to feed her. It’s only turning eight. Bobby asks her. And then…she remembers that she’s misplaced her cap somewhere. She almost dissolves into a sob, but we call up Granma to check it up. I know.

Five minutes later, my fears are confirmed, it’s gone. She somehow almost realises it, but we change the subject. (O! The misinformation and persuasion we subject our little ones to!)

Bobby burns milk on the stove. (The fumes haven’t cleared even at 0131 hrs). The griddle looks like a badly formed toadstool, with alternating swaths of white foam and bark-brown char. The burning smell is incredibly pungent. I fume, like I have fumed on almost a dozen separate occasions to day. I wish the bad day has thus been capped, but I’m wrong.

I go out for a coffee and snack. (2015)


ICH. I try to park in the front, but it’s too crowded. The ‘bikes are arranged like ninepins. I go inside the Spencer’s Parking space (well, around the corner actually; only my mind travelled inside their parking space, but the lot was, surprisingly, empty), and finally cut into my space at the back. There were no ‘bikes. The gruff old man was on his beat. As usual he looked ill-kept.

Dosa is served burned, but the coffee was good. Opposite me, an odd couple seat themselves. The woman is in her mid-thirties, the man is a boy, almost like me. They talk. Then the waiter with a slight limp walks up to them, and the man (boy) orders one MO. ‘One?’ ‘Yes, one.’

I get up, wash my hands, merely touch the towel (and immediately recoil at some thought), pay my bill (Rs 17), retain the change, and by a circuitous route reach my ‘bike.


The premises of the Napier Museum.

No, the cap’s not there. I look into occupied and unoccupied seats and under the seats and around the seats and… I walk. Without purpose, seemingly without end, a lost cause, going through the motions.

I just wanted some air: lots of air to forget the day.

And as I leave, I notice a building: Sree Chitra Enclave (Sree Chitra Smarakam). I wonder at the translation. It’s a piece of information. Treasuring it, I walk to my ‘bike. I turn it forward, execute a nice semi to find myself on the main road.


I connect the flash drive, and copy the Qt executable to the Desktop.

I try to install Qt. (Well, the ‘try’ in the preceding sentence is not entirely truthful. I was frothing well confident that the file included the C compiler as well.)

It didn’t work out, instead it asked if I wanted to download the MinGW package.

So, connecting to the dialup router became a prerogative.

I was crestfallen. In the last four days I’d tried and failed. Maybe five or six dozen times. The only time I’d connected was through 172233, and it shook hands at 19.2 kbps, and I disconnected (big mistake).

I delete the Qt installer from my Flash drive.

The bad day was still not over yet.


I’ve supped and am sitting before my PC.

Hurrah! It’s connected at around 24 kbps. So now there is a chance!

Oh no! I’ve deleted the file from my flash drive.

But staring at me, smiling in my face, is the green icon of the Qt installer, which I’d placed on the Desktop. I fire it up. It tries to look up a mirror.

It fails. I check up the connection. I do a netstat and find out that the connection to the Qt ftp site is established. I try again.

This time it succeeds. Download is slow, though, the executable is rather big.

I dig into a book. (Badiou). I read two chapters.

It’s an hour into the download. It’s almost halfway.

I dig into another book. Ellison’s Invisible Man. Tremendous work.

Finally, 1:25 hrs into the download, a total of around 13 MB has been downloaded. I didn’t even notice it, but the installation has finished (over 13,000 files in total.)

I use the command-line again, and find out the new executable. I copy it to the desktop and rename it. MinGW is here now.

The day had ended way earlier. It is 02:03, and the next day.

[1] (or something like that, I don’t quite recall.)

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