Read the Printed Word!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Online Woes

These days major load of the postal department has been taken over by Courier services and E-Commerce and net banking. P & T has become just P . Telegram had gone redundant years back , but only recently has the Govt  admitted to the fact and has closed down the service officially. Yet there are times one needs to visit these dinosaur departments once in a while.

(We actually have these ancient style post boxes at Mhow till date. This is no snap from the History Book !!) 

Having filed the ITR , I had to send it by Speed post (or just drop it into the Dinosaur's mouth)

The Post office was virtually deserted, with one or no customer at any counter. The Queue at my counter with all of one customer just would not move for over 15 minutes. There was an old man at the post, peering into  his screen with a frozen look of concern and concentration. I woke him up from his reverie to learn that the server was not working and that he was 'trying'. I also learnt that there was no manual way to book the post. It was windows trouble shooting at its best with the slogan "Re-start ; Re-install; and Re-format". Of these an operator of a client station could resort only to the first option and that's what  he had been doing for over half an hour. I went to the post master and She for her part upgraded the trouble shooting effort. She restarted the Server !

I decided to move over to the next counter to update my PPF account and to make a deposit. Again it was a similar scene with a lady staring  at a monitor screen. It was a different server. 

I asked her if I could access the account online. She gave a frustrated look, "server  ki wajah se to delay ho raha hai" (She was working on the server and that's why it was taking more time) . 

Later I came too know that the problem was not with the server but with the 'served' . She just couldn't decipher the contents of the page she had been served. After what seemed a long long time, an all knowing youngster came to help her. He said, that a transaction has to be done to see the statement! I was asked to deposit Rs 2000. It was OK with me as that's what I had gone there for. Challan filled, money collected and data feeding started and then came the long wait again. For some reason, the lady started calling for the 'expert' again  . The way she repeatedly invoked the name of "Ghanshyam ", even Krishna Parmatma would have come down from his heavenly abode, but there was no sign of this Ghanshyam. There was that tone of urgency in her voice , since a 'time out ' would mean refilling all the details.  The pleading tone did have some effect and the help arrived. 

"Submit " button daba doon (Shall I press the submit button) Oh, it was for this confirmation that she needed an "expert" ? 

Permission obtained, data submitted , both were looking keenly at the response on the monitor. How I wish I had access to the screen they were staring at! Finally, Ghanshyam informed me with an absolutely sorry look ," Minimum amount, the system would accept would be Rs 5400, as you have not deposited for over 3 years" . Fortunately , there was an ATM of a private bank nearby,and the correct amount was deposited and the transaction was committed on the server. I am sure that was the only transaction done by that lady for the day.  

As I was leaving the Post office, I just happened to glance at the Speed Post Counter to see some activity on the printer. So, the 50th restart had worked ?!  I asked him if he could try now. he said in a sing song voice "Khosish karenge..... . Ho jaata ...bahut achcha hoga" (I'll try and if it works, fine) . After four envelopes, when my turn came , the system hanged again. He looked at me, amused yet accusingly ,declaring that the system hanged as soon as he had fed the data pertaing to my letter! Mea Culpa !! But he was kind enough to restart again and this time it worked !

Everyone was so nice and wanting to be so helpful yet were so helpless . Now that all transactions are online , there is no looking back. So,  they have no other option but to look back and yell for "GhanShyam " or whosoever could coax a server into action  on that day .

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Bicycle Lamp and Bell

I am regular reader of Open page of The Hindu.  Here's an article by Ashokamitran .

The writer gives a humorous account of his tryst with the law on traffic violation. The violation happened to be 'not having a properly working bell on his Bicycle'.  The infringement takes him to the court , where he pays a fine and finally , armed with the receipt from the court, he retrieves his bicycle from the police station.

 Today, the story sounds so exaggerated and even fictitious , but I know it is very much true. In early seventies,  I have seen cyclists in the  twilight hour ,looking for a match box to light their  lamps. Then the introduction of the Dynamo light was a great improvement and convenience. 

Nothing tells more about an issue than the jokes it evokes in the weekly magazines,(like Kumudam and Vikatan) much like the whatsapp jokes today. The magazines those days had many cartoons on the plight of an erring cyclist and a policeman. I distinctly remember a  few lines from a play in our school days . It goes like this, 

Cyclist :why do I need light, the whole town is lit up? 

and the policeman deflates his tyres saying,"why do you need air in your tyre, the whole place is full of air ? Ha ha. 

Coming to the present, I still use a bicycle and at times I miss a simple bicycle lamp. I went to my favourite cycle shop at Mhow bazaar to correct the situation. As  is customary in Mhow, the shop was small enough to repair a punctured tube and big enough to sell and service a 15-gear Bicycle. But when I asked for a Cycle lamp, there was a look of disbelief and some smirking all around as if I had asked for the moon. I continued to keep a straight face indicating that it was a serious question and I was still waiting for a serious answer. Gradually the smirking stopped and one of the guys replied "Saab yahan chal jaata hai" (You can do without it here). 

How have we come to this state where it is perfectly OK to ride motorcycles without helmet, or for four adults to travel on a motorcycle and the number of people or stores on a bicycle is limited only by the pedaling  power of the cyclist? Lamps and bells are not even available leave alone being mandatory. Anyway, I scouted for one online and placed an order, and I intend using it however ridiculous it might look on the streets of Mhow.