My life has turned into a techno-nightmare. My room seems suddenly to be full of coiled wires and devices with large batteries that need regular charging, so that all I seem to be doing in my spare time is unplugging one battery and putting in another. A laptop and a Tata Indicom wireless (#$%!!#) are the new additions, to go with earlier stuff like the cellphone, but the tragedy is that so far none of it has made my life any richer. It’s like Anakin Skywalker waking up to find he has a cool black suit and mask but no one likes him any more. I’m still unconnected.
This sad tale began some 12 moons ago, when I bought a new laptop. “At last!” I shouted to myself in glee, “This is where I show that Amit Varma a thing or five about blogging prolificity. I’ll be the epitome of Tech Kool now, reclining against the headrest, laptop on my knee, churning out sentence after delectable sentence like a 21st century version of Papa Hemingway. No more making untidy notes on paper and then waiting till morning to type them out in office. Best of all, I’ll have the Internet on Tap.”
It didn’t take me long to discover that “internet on tap” was an apposite description for all the wrong reasons; in Saket the broadband situation is worse than the water supply one. Sify advertisements have been lying around the house for months now, but try calling any of the numbers and you get an error message. Ditto for Reliance. And though I got through to Airtel, for some reason it took them three days to revert and tell me they didn’t have network coverage in my colony yet; “maybe in another two or three months”. This in a place just 200 yards from the famous PVR complex, where the city’s most happening people congregate to watch films and occasionally be evacuated after bomb scares.
Meanwhile the laptop was yet to be registered and I was getting desperate, so I turned to the only option left: Tata Indicom’s wireless phone service. Since then, as they used to say of Orson Welles post-Citizen Kane, it’s been all downhill. In the last few days I’ve seen far more than I would ever have liked of this droopy-faced man from Tata Indicom, who always manages to do something wrong. I rave and rant, he hears me out, nods sadly, assures me I’m right to feel displeased...and then takes money for something or the other and comes back the next day not having done what was required. And still looking sad.
Despite assuring me at our first meeting that his company provides Internet service to lots of customers in my colony, this droopy Tata man turns out to know nothing at all about actually providing the connection. One day he shows up with the wrong installation CD. The next day he brings an incompatible “lead cable”. The third day he brings an overconfident colleague who nearly destroys the laptop in various innovative ways, including trying to shove the CD drive in with half the CD still hanging out of it. And I have to keep making up excuses to leave office early, because none of these people are willing to work after 6 PM.
The upshot is, I’m still Net-less. I have to come to office at 9 to blog - me, a member of a tribe of feature journalists who are never expected to rise before 11. The laptop spends most of its time in its case. Cords wind sinuously around my room. There are frantic beeping sounds when I forget to charge one of the batteries. Amit Varma keeps updating. And the only thing for me to do now is read Murakami’s Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, about a man whose life gets so strange that the only way he can deal with it is by sitting at the bottom of a deep dry well.