lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Friday, September 08, 2006

Missus Em is marooned

This is not Bin Laden wreaking havoc, just Missus Em moaning she can't get online, but still. Cut off from the world and nobody is claiming responsibility.

Broadband is dead dead dead. Desolation and despair.

The feeling does not last long because Missus Em's inner self springs into action, tells outer self to stop being morose. She complained, lodged her protest and got a docket number, didn't she?

She starts composing undying purple prose, but the dead ADSL link light is a deterrent. It doesn't let her work. It gnaws at her, and ruins the whole day, to be frank. Good grief, she is going to have to get stroppy about it. She is miserable, so she will make others miserable, too.

So Missus Em goes to the local telephone exchange and states she wishes to see somebody with the ability, authority and the 'Can do' attitude that is so necessary to get on in this world, to solve her troubles and end her misery.

The local exchange is a familiar place to her. Many were the hours she spent there whenever she had an absurd need to have a functional phone. The lady at the counter tells her she can go in and see the Divisional Engineer in thirty minutes.

Missus Em has neglected to carry a book to while the waiting period away. So she reads the notices.

Visiting Dates
Mon Day
Wedness Day
Fri Day
Visiting Hours Between
3 P.M. to 4 P.M.
Except on govt. Holidays
and Pay Day of the Month
by Order

She reads, in frank astonishment.

Surrender form, will be issued against the xerox copy of last paid bill, by order

She reads, in disbelief.

She digs in her bag and unearths a sheet of paper and jots these memorable words down, so that she may never ever visit on wrong days and commit a gaffe or photocopy a bill with a Canon instead of a Xerox copier. They must have ways to know which copier it was, surely, she thinks.

The guard, who has been observing this act of devotion to etiquette, asks Missus Em, in that spirit of solidarity that grips all South Indians when they are north of the Vindhyas, "Tamizh-a?"

She admits that she is actually "Telungu." That is practically the same thing, decides the guard and tells her, conspiratorially, that she can go in right away, if her need to see the DE is so dire.

Gratified by this, she enters the labyrinth that is the Telephone Bhavan, and meets the DE. He is an old friend. Many were the hours she hobnobbed with him when her broadband connection was being installed. Many were the times she batted her eyelashes at him to wheedle a promise that her connection will be sorted out, right away.

The DE picks up a phone and tells somebody to go with a modem to Missus Em's house, pronto, and see what's what. "Please, I'm suffering withdrawal symptoms, I've got the DTs," says Missus Em, piteously. The DE reassures her that her addiction to the Internet can be resumed very soon. "They will verify Internal, then External will go to your address," he says cryptically. Having done crosswords most of her life, she decodes this to mean that they will see if the problem lies with them or with her router.

Satisfied by this assurance that Peace and World Order would be restored shortly, she takes her leave, with a final bleat that she is going crazy without the 'Net. At the gate, the friendly South Indian guard says to his buddy, the other guard, "Do you know, Madam is Madrasi." His buddy is suitably impressed and asks "Enda area?" She confides it was T Nagar. Bonding over, she goes home to mope again.

An hour later, the phone rings. A voice asks if it was true that Missus Em is having broadband problems. She breaks down and confesses all. A further hour later, the phone rings again, and she repeats her tale of woe. We are checking, there does seem to be a problem, somebody will arrive with succour tomorrow, says the voice, in tones that hold a promise that heads will definitely roll if that didn't happen.

Tomorrow arrives, but the Telephone people don't. There is nothing for it but to go and find out. She knows she can call, but they have a way of hanging up while she is still stating her grievance, if she is lucky enough to have somebody answer her call at all.

She knows that to be present, to mope and sigh and wipe a tear in front of them is the best way to convince the Telephone people that her need is urgent and her distress great. That alone will persuade the DEs and AOs, the TOs and JTOs and other alphabetical soup officers to take up her case, do the needful and expedite the matter.

The friendly guard waves her in. No need to involve the Complaints desk lady, this is Missus Em's personal fief now.

A lanky young man (Missus Em knows him, too, another old friend) is surprised to see her. "Why are you here? We have verified and External are taking care of it already," he says. It is not even his department, but he knows all about Missus Em's problem. How sympathetic! Missus Em is touched. She explains that unlike what she had been promised, nobody has turned up to check her connection, and launches into her deprivation speech.

Her cell-phone beeps. It's Mister Em. The Telephone people, your computer man and the electrician are all here, and the router is fine, he says. I've downloaded my mail, he adds, insensitively.

Now if Missus Em had not been diligent and harried the local exchange the way she did, would this have happened so soon? They fixed her broadband connection just to get her off their backs, ha.



Blogger Priya said...

Well done, babe! Was having WS myself! You and out of circulation, for no fault of yours? Cholbe na cholbe na (throwing arms up in protest):P Now to have some conversations with you and get my ideas for a post:)

1:20 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

Lovely post. Thinking of PGW as you wrote this, were you?

1:44 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- What's WS, darling? I am back in business now, anyhow.

Rajesh- As a matter of fact, yes. Had been reading Srividya Natarajan, and that led to thinking about Wodehouse.

3:36 pm  
Blogger Ravages said...

Ha is right! Just had my life restored, at home. I understand and feel your pain.

5:43 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

Bloody fucking brilliant. I missed Missus Em's bleating, though.

6:51 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

A brilliant post. Very wodehouse. So you read 'no onions nor garlic', I take it?

7:35 pm  
Anonymous Non Sequitur Man said...

Surely they should know Tuesday is followed by When's Day? Tsk, tsk.

8:05 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

CCG- But of course, Chandru. Only fellow victims understand this agony.

Rimi- *shocked* Language, young lady, language. But it's nice to be missed, I tell you.

Ash- Yup. A wonderful novel. Kept collapsing into tears of helpless laughter.

NSM- Tee hee. How apt only.

9:26 pm  
Blogger Raj said...

We convened a special meeting of the Blogoholics Anonymous to discuss the case of Missus Em. The symptoms exhibited by Missus Em are typical of a malady called broadbanditis withdrawus, for which Medicine is yet to find a cure. If Mister Em desires peace and quiet, he might want to make his house a Wi-fi building and provide wireless,painless,seamless connectivity.Small investment for a noble cause?

11:02 am  
Anonymous badari narayanan said...

Moddom has modem problems? Very sad! Tried threats?

2:19 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Raj- Missus Em is gratified that her condition is being so widely discussed. But Mister Em is irritated that you are giving her ideas,and wishes to inform you to mind your own business. He has no noble streak, alas.

Badari- She tried threats first thing. She even batted her eyelashes at the router. The router turned a blind eye.

4:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Choose Day is followed by When's Day, and NSM is sadly under-informed, to steal your own phrase.


Secret admirer

9:54 pm  
Blogger Urmea said...

Aaaaand the prize for persistence goes to Missus Em - I mean, you really argued with the babudom and WON? Holy batman!!

10:21 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Urmi- Holy gongura, yes!

3:32 pm  
Anonymous Prophet of Doom said...

@ Missus Em:

TeluN - gu .... Very typical ;-) .. Another synonym for that is "Gult" ... Perhaps you already know, but i couldn't suppress it ..

1:58 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- Yeah, I know that one. Golt, I'd have spelt it, though. :-)

9:40 am  
Anonymous dipali said...

It is so hard to believe that just a few miserable years ago there was no such animal as the Internet, and today, even a brief period of enforced inaccessibility turns us nice, respectable, middle-aged ladies into nail-biting neurotics. What agony, what painful withdrawal symptoms we suffer! Let us pray for no such further addictions- this one is certainly bad enough!

10:52 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Dipali- Amen! Nail-biting neurotic is what I turned into. As addictions go, this one is fun, though.

12:27 pm  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. /body>