I am in India for a couple of weeks visiting family and wrapping up some business. Before coming here I was excited about the prospect of working in India, as most of the family we are staying with, now have broadband. In fact, while packing for India I even packed a wireless router that will enable me to be somewhat mobile with my laptop.
After the long flight to India, when we finally reached home, I turned on the family computer to check out the broadband (BSNL ADSL) connection. No Signal…Apparently the BSNL server was down. I was told, that it happens occasionally and this might even have something to do with a worker’s strike against privatizing BSNL (it’s a government owned and run organization at this point). Oh well…
The next morning, I got up and turned on the computer and lo and behold the broadband connection was working. All I needed to do now to get productive was to get broadband connection to my laptop. To address that, it was with some relish that I got into setting up the wireless network. The first thing I needed was a voltage converter to convert the 220V power supply to 120V that my router eliminator will accept. I bought an off-the-shelf step down transformer. After plugging in all the required components and the power supply, I was ready to rock and roll. Unfortunately though, I realized that after an initial indication that the router was working, the power light was no longer turned on. I fiddled around with all the combination of power strips we had, even going out and buying a new power supply that generated the requisite 7.5V and 1Amp directly from 220V power supply…still no dice. I unscrewed the router, figured out how to reset it and expectantly plugged it in again…still no light. (I later found out that the issue was that the step-down transformer I bought off-the-shelf was not working as specified and was essentially passing through the voltage unchanged. This had caused a power surge which had actually fried the router).
I was getting frustrated and I had to get some work done. So I decided to move onto plan B which was to takeover the family broadband connection. I unpacked my 40ft Ethernet cable to run the cable from the study to the living room so that I could work and still be somewhat social. Now the issue with running a long cable in India is that all walls are solid concrete and there is no way to drill a hole that goes through. I had two options…Run the cable through the window or through the doors. After a quick family consultation, we shot down the idea of running the cable through the window as it would mean that we will have the leave a couple of windows open – a huge security risk. So I ran the cable through the doors going through 3 doors in the process. After tying the cable to a few nails, to get it out the way of kids, I was ready to be productive…I turned on the laptop…It was lovely, the speed was decent, Skype was working and I could access all my email accounts. I was cruising and beginning to feel connected again when suddenly the connection stopped working…Apparently somebody had closed one of the doors and that had killed the Ethernet cable. The whole system was down again.
The only option I had now was to either work in the study or to move the DSL model to the living room. After some deliberation, I decided to move the modem over to the living room and plug it into the telephone socket there. Things worked for sometime and then boom…the power went out. I was waiting again…
After waiting for a couple of hours for the power, I finally send out an email to my dad about our travel plans in India. I called him up to ask him to look for it on his computer. He gave me a hoarse laugh.
“It won’t work” he said
“Just turn on your computer and check your mail, you should have it. Also print out a copy for reference” I said, pointing out the obvious.
“It won’t work”, he repeated.
Now my dad is no tech wiz, but he can usually read his emails without any problems.
“Why not?” I asked getting a little bit frustrated.
“Well, there was a burglar attack last night in the neighborhood and the thieves took the telephone cables outside a number of houses. They plan to extract the copper from the wires in order to make some money from selling it” he explained.
“So I guess the broadband connection won’t work”, I stated the obvious, with a calmness that even I was surprised by. I guess I was getting used to being back in India.
“It will take just a couple of days and should be ok when you get here” Dad said reassuringly.
I don’t mean to imply from this post, that things are not improving…things are improving in India in a big way – roads are better, BSNL is improving the standard broadband speed from 256Kbps to 2Mbps in the course of next couple of years and even my dad and father-in-law have both a cell phone and a computer – but there is still a long way to go.