Tag Archives: mtnl

MTNL: The Long Road Home.

This post marks the fourth anniversary of my lovingly cherished relationship with one of the most prominent organizations of Mumbai: MTNL. For the uninitiated, MTNL is this passionate, thoughtful, dedicated group of people who have been faithfully serving the citizens of Mumbai and Delhi over the years. Their major services include passionately digging up roads to put in wires, thoughtfully digging up roads to take out wires, dedicated-ly digging up roads to take out Airtel’s/Reliance’s wires, sending pan chewing assholes to your home to tell you that your telephone line is permanently fucked, charging you 250 bucks for conveying this message, and so on.

But the most romantic part of this relationship is how it all started. Sit back and grab something to eat as I reminisce the beautiful memories of the 4 golden years.

The Application Phase

Since the dawn of time, no living human has EVER got through this phase without a hitch. The Indian government has in fact announced a grand prize for any citizen whose application doesn’t get rejected in the first try – they will be awarded the Param Vir Chakra (posthumously, if that is the case) and felicitated on Republic Day. They would get to share the elephant ride with kids who have won the Bravery Award probably for passing their Board exams in the first attempt, and wave at the President who is blissfully sleeping on the chair.

The Reapplication Phase

So now, like the rest of us, you drag your sorry ass back to the MTNL office because your application got rejected due to any of the following reasons –

1. You used black ink, whereas only blue ink is permitted.
2. YoU DiDn’T FiLl ThE FoRm In AlTeRNaTiNg CaSe.
3. There was a slight crease on the form. How can a CAT scanner or a Large Hadron Collider process your form if it has a fucking crease on it?
4. You didn’t sign it using the blood of 666 fallen angels.
5. Because kuch kuch hota hai asshole, tum nahi samjhoge.
6. You are supposed to fill the form only in Sanskrit, Hebrew or Ancient Gaelic.

Raise A Hue And Cry Phase

By this time, you feel like you’re in a Christopher Nolan movie, getting lost at every turn, unable to figure out what is going on, losing your grip on reality. Finally, the confusion and the anger get the better of you and you scream out in frustration, only to be chucked out by the security.

Regret The Previous Phase And Get Down On Your Knees And Beg For Mercy Phase

MTNL staff show no mercy. You pleas for help will be laughed off with a Nazi-Taliban-esque grace.

Nothing Worked, So Use The Trump Card Phase

I remember the day back in December 2006 when my friends and I went to the MTNL office to personally talk to them about our pending connection. We were asked to meet a certain Fat Aunty about our problem.

Mrs. Fat Aunty was the branch-deputy-information-something-manager. In short, the person we were looking for.

We nervously entered her office and waited. She was talking to someone over the phone (what are the odds of that?!). 5 minutes passed with no change in status quo. 10 minutes passed and the impatience was growing. We politely cleared our throats to get her attention. She never even looked up at us. A few more minutes of audible throat-clearing yielded no results. We increased our pretend-coughing to the point that her colleagues suspected us to be Whooping Cough patients and started covering their faces, but Madam Fatass just continued to orally pleasure the phone.

Finally, some 450 hours later, she hung up. She motioned us to come over and take a seat.

“Problem?” she said.

My friend spoke rapidly: “Madam, we applied for an internet connection 3 months ago but still haven’t received a word from you… actually we needed internet ASAP to blah blah blah- ”

Fat Aunty cut in: “Not possible. There are about 85,588 people who are ahead of you.”

My friend was nearly in tears: “But but… it’s been 3 months…I have to…”

Fat Aunty: “NOT. POSSIBLE.” (makes a full stop with her eyes)

The other friend tried his luck: “Madam, please try to understand. We have been coming here everyday since the past 3 months. We are students-”

Fat Aunty scowled: “If you are students, you should go to college! Don’t hang out at MTNL office and complain about low attendance! This is not a youth hang out joint!”

(silence, crickets chirping)

I stood there, tongue-tied like a nervous boyfriend in front of a girl’s Hitler reincarnate mom.

My friend composed himself and tried again: “God hasn’t been too kind to us, Ma’am. We come here and stand everyday, sun or rain, summer or winter, weekday or weekend, in sickness or in health, with a bright hope, an undying belief that you would just look at us once and listen to our story. Look at us, Ma’am, we’ve been greeted with only withering bouquets of rejection every time. We are falling apart just like the plaster on the walls of this building. We have nowhere else to go, no one else to talk to. We are the middle children of history, Ma’am. No purpose or place.”

3 of her colleagues and 2 security guards had broken into tears.

My friend had nailed it. He had hit the second most vulnerable part of the female anatomy – her heart. We could see the sympathy welling up inside her. We had lived the dream.

“Arrey Ramesh, come here!” she yelled at the clerk.

“Yes madam?”

“These 3 students need an internet connection urgently. How soon can it be arranged?”

He looked at her as if she had asked for his father’s hand in marriage. “You mad?!! No way… no more connections till the first bird chirps in autumn next year.”

Madam cranked it up. “Shut up! Don’t give me this bullshit. I’m not the general public. Get them a connection this week and if you dare say no…”

Ramesh gulped and murmured something under his breath and ran away. The 3 of us looked at Fat Aunty quizzically.

“And so it has been written,” she said with the mysticism of an Indian Yogi, “your internet would be active before this Friday.”

We immediately fell to her feet and cried, for our emotional rollercoaster was finally going to come to a stop.

Post Acceptance Installation Phase

True to Aunty’s word, a guy came to my place that week, armed with wires, CDs and the symbolic screwdriver.

15 minutes of sorcery later, he spat: “Installation complete. 500 bucks please.”

I asked: “Is the connection working?”

“No. It will work only after you call the customer support and ask to reset the password after which a virtual connection needs to be established after which an I.P. needs to be assigned after which you would need to prove that you are the son of the noblest blood.”

“And how much time will that take?”

“Should be done in 10 to 15… light years, I think. Now, the 700 bucks please.”

“You said 500 a minute ago.”

“Consulting charges extra.”

Post Installation Traumatic Stress And Eventual Suicide Phase

This is the time after the connection becomes active, when you start getting weird problems and such frequent disconnections that your life becomes an unending nightmare. You live in the paranoid fear that the internet would suddenly stop working one day and the visits to MTNL office would start all over again. You feel like a war veteran who has come back home after long years of conflict, but still hears the sounds of guns and bombs, cries of compatriots, horrors of the battlefield. You want to leave them and switch to another provider, but are left with no energy or guts to fall into the routine once again. So in the end, you quietly curl up in your seat and stare at the modem, clinging to a fleeting hope that the lights would keep on blinking, keep on blinking…

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A Brief History Of The Internets.

Welcome. This is the first in the series of my 1 part article on modern technology. In this informative article, I’ll be using my extensive experience in IT to describe the origin and growth of a revolution called the internets. This article intends to examine the historical development of the internets, provide a basic understanding of its working and appreciate its contribution to the contemporary society.

Historical account

The earliest reports of the internet can be traced back to Mesozoic Era, about 300 million years ago. It was an era most famously known as the one when Microsoft’s Bill Gates broke new grounds by launching the definitive version of Windows: Windows ME (Mesozoic Edition). It was an instant sensation among dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs, angiosperms and primates from all parts of the Pangea. Microsoft were so overwhelmed with the positive response that they didn’t change any of the features for 300 million years, until recently, when they added a few fancy graphics to it and called it Windows 7 Ultimate Edition. This is, naturally, noted as a glaring anomaly in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, which is based largely on the idea of “survival of the fittest”. How the miserably unfit Windows managed to survive this long without evolving is still a mystery that continues to bewilder modern day biologists.

Archaeologists have also been able to testify to the technological progress in pre-historic times through fossils excavated from various parts of the Earth. These key pieces of evidence are extremely helpful in reconstructing the very first structure of the internet.

1. The early prototypes of routers and broadband connection equipment used for trans-continent communication after the start of Continental Drift. These are still in use at MTNL.

2. The beginning of the Microsoft-Apple product market rivalry.

3. A modern day MTNL employee setting up a broadband connection using modern day tools.

Architecture and working

The internet is based on the client-server model, as shown in the figure below.

How it works:

Client side

-When you type a website address, say http://www.facebook.com, in your browser and hit enter, a request goes to the server.
-If the request is polite enough, the server processes it and displays the Facebook page.
-You then login to Facebook and post stupid status updates about your day.
-Your friends then send requests to the server to remove you from their list.

Server side

Servers are powered by 4 key elements.

1. Large, powerful coal engines located at an undisclosed location have to be kept running day and night to keep the internet online.
2. Cheap labour from poor countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar is employed at $0.08 an hour to manually operate little hamster wheels which supply power to all servers in the Southern hemisphere. Although the wages are meager, the exploitation illegal and the working conditions miserable, it is still better than what Reebok and Nike pay them for making shoes.
3. Unknown to most religious junkies, their hopes and prayers help in protecting the internet against the evil eyes of atheists.
4. The Pakistani cricket team also helps in covering the cost of server operation and maintenance. How? For every match that Pakistan fix and throw away, bookies donate 10% of their profits to the True Chartity Party/Internet Party (TCP/IP) as a goodwill gesture. If it wasn’t for the Pakistan cricket team, the cost of an internet connection would be so high that none of us would have been able to afford it. (I request you to take this moment to include PCB in your thoughts and prayers.)

Backup server of the entire internet is hosted on the brain of India’s most richly talented actor-par-excellence-par-awesomeness, Upen Patel. For those unaware, Upen Patel was born with a rare congenital birth defect that left him with severely contorted facial expressions, an unmistakably hilarious speech impediment and a photographic memory. The comical facial expressions and gay voice came handy in “bumbling gay bimbo villain” roles in classic movies such as Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani; the photographic memory in systematically memorizing every web page on the internet over a period of 2 decades. Till date, Upen has memorized billions and billions of web pages and databases and is the only backup should the internet be bombed by terror groups. As such, he is understandably the most sought after actor/ backup utility in our galaxy.

Etiquette

1. Usage of emoticons is a vital component of internet communication. In most scenarios, the usage of emoticons determines the intent and the tone of your message.

For example, “You stupid half-brained douchebag” is offensive due to lack of emoticons that are required to soften the tone of the message.

Contrast the above with “lol u stupid half-brained douchebag!!! 😀 :P”
Clearly, the sensible choice of using emoticons has prevented the sentence from hurting someone’s feelings.

2. Hypocrisy is not only permissible, but actively encouraged on the internet. It is not uncommon to see attention hungry girls uploading close to 500 albums with 1000 photos in each album, detailing every stage of their life – right from conception to embryonic development to their first school drama rehearsal to how they once tasted an alcoholic beverage at some party. These very girls will then complain about “sites not respecting their privacy” and expect sympathy from equally intelligent roadside Romeos who are only more than happy to oblige. And to top it off, this exchange of mutual ass-suckery will most likely be in horrendous English.

3. A rule of thumb: everything is fake and gay on the internet. Any claims/photos/videos of accidents/miracles/conspiracies/accomplishments are fake and gay products of Photoshop and Adobe After Effects. For instance, this:

Applications and usage

Broadly, the only 2 real uses of the internet can be narrowed down to:

1. Spamming.
2. Pornographic studies.

If you are not using it for watching porn, it is assumed that you are busy spamming at the moment. When the spamming stops, it is implied that you’re occupied with porn. However, certain people have demonstrated that both these activities can be performed simultaneously: by spamming porn or watching porn about spam.

Security concerns

The internet has been instrumental in making the world a smaller, simpler place where distances, languages or cultures are not prohibitive factors anymore. It is astounding when you even begin to comprehend the amount of data travelling forth over the internet, its rate of growth, its global reach, its vision for the future; to realize that, in essence, the perpetual repository of the entire human civilization is available at any point in time to any person at any location.

However, as with any system in the world, the growth and spread of internet has not been without an opportunity for exploitation and malice. Moreover, it is much simpler to blame technology which only obeys the instructions dished out by discerning humans.

For eg, Twitter has been held responsible for spreading internet AIDS by letting cheap Bollywood celebrities with 140 or less functional brain cells post their shitty updates in 140 characters or less. Twitter takes care to verify the celebrities’ accounts but does nothing to verify their intelligence – a serious security flaw, as viewed by many.

One of the biggest concerns for most parents is that their child might get access to pornographic material online. Thankfully, there are a lot of sites and softwares today that advise which porn sites are paid sites and which ones are free, so that children are not duped into paying for porn which can be obtained for free – relieving the parental concern over credit card misuse. Many thoughtful individuals have also contributed towards this cause by publishing lists of “paid members” usernames and passwords free of cost.

It has also been suggested that internet addiction is driving people away from real life social interaction, that people are not spending enough time with their families and that people are okay with the idea of online relationships as opposed to one in real life. I’m not sure of these claims, but I will do some research and post my detailed analysis on Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, MySpace, WordPress, Blogspot, Posterous, Picasa, Flickr, Tumblr, Typepad, LiveJournal, Hi5, Savita Bhabhi and a few other sites soon.

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That wraps up what little I know about the internet. Hope you found it informative and illuminating.

Oh and before you leave, don’t forget to collect your free gift for being the 999999th visitor. 😀 😛