Yesterday I read a very interesting article in the NY Times about iPhone theft in New York. This particular iPhone was restolen & the first thief went to police to complain! Fascinating story! Reminded me of the day my iPhone was stolen in New Delhi’s Old Fort in 2011. Had gone there to meet managers of Nepathya (The band was performing there.) I ordered a plate of chowmin, paid for the same at the counter where I left my iPhone and went to the delivery counter. In less than five minutes I realized my phone was not with me. Went back to the pay counter. The guy behind the desk said he never saw any iPhone. I didn’t trust him. But what could I do? Somebody suggested me to file a FIR to a police station about 2 kilometers away. Without my phone, I couldn’t contact the Nepathya managers. I went back to my apartment and quickly changed passwords of my email and social network accounts. After reading the NYT piece I thought may be I should have trusted the police and filed a complaint that day. Hmmm. That’s the story of me being a victim of “Apple Picking” in the Indian capital.
The Kindle is a book reading/storing device whose screen uses the E Ink technology that makes the texts look like black ink on light gray paper. No backlight, no glare, no eyestrain, writes a NYT columnist.
First I read about this in Newsweek and then in other web sites. I love this new device called Amazon Kindle (see pic via NYT). I want to have one. Perhaps not immediately for neither can I afford it (USD 400) nor that is available here. Also, I don’t have credit card which means I can’t use Kindle store to download the latest books which are actually cheaper compared to their physical versions. But I can download out-of-copyrights books from Gutenberg and put them in Kindle. If the Kindle’s wireless feature supports the 3G service-like it does in the US- offered by Nepal Telecom (which is limited to certain sections of Kathmandu city) then I will be able to download them on the move. [Anyone, Amazon included, reading this and want to present me a Kindle this Christmas, please you are welcome!] Continue reading
The lead: There are peculiar challenges of iPoding in Kathmandu and there is also a grim irony in owning an iPod in Nepali society.
With jeans tugged into their socks and eyes as red as ripe tomatoes, the boys were Jug Bahadur Bhandari, 15 (left), and Prakash Bhandari, 13. (from From Wagle’s Rara travelogue: Up to Rara Lake with Dohori Dhun All the Way
What do you do when you are eagerly waiting for something and you know it will take some time for the thing to arrive to you? Well, you eagerly wait. You prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for THE thing. And if THE thing is an iPod, you might do some research about the tiny and beautiful piece of music playing device. You might want to learn how to transfer songs from your computer, learn more about the machine itself: from ways to save battery to organizing songs in iTunes. I did all that on the first week of April (and continued doing so until I got hold of a video iPod at the end of the month). I used to give about three hours of my internet time just to do research on iPod and the iPod universe.
Not many people use iPod in Kathmandu and there was only one iPoder in our office: with a Nano. So my 80 GB video iPod instantly became the object of envy and desire and wow among my colleagues and other friends. Can I just touch it? Can I see how the songs sound like? “Well, Rs. two for touching,” I would joke. It took me no time to realize that I must cover the iPod with some cover if I want to save it from being scratched or loose some friends for not giving them to touch the thing. I opted for the first option.
As soon as I get hold of the iPod, I intensified my search for multi-gigabytes of songs. One song or hundreds, I don’t care, I would say, just give me because I have to fill this monster. So far, after using the machine for months, I have only managed to fill 30 gigs of songs. (Another 30 gigs is filled by files from my laptop.)
In the meantime, I also write an op-ed piece in Kantipur about iPod that received a lot of comments and appreciation from many young readers of the newspaper. I basically gave introduction of iPod to readers along with some information on iPod culture worldwide and shared my experience of iPoding in Kathmandu. If you think you will be able to enjoy the music of your iPod in a public vehicle in Kathmandu, think again. The gurujis (drivers) of public bus/autorickshaws have their own music system which includes blaring up folk tunes so loud that if you happen to be sitting near the speaker, you will probably be deafened. There is no way you can play your iPod with the buses’ music system on. Otherwise it will be an ideal device to keep the chattering of fellow travelers at bay.
iPod article I wrote in Kantipur:
गोजीभरि गीत : आइपोड लहर
त्यो जादूमयी ‘क्लिक ह्विल’ चलाउन अल्छी लागेपछि मैले ‘सफ्फल’ मोडलाई सक्रिय पारेर आइपोडलाई डीजे बनाइदिएको थिएँ । त्यसयता उसले त्यहाँका अनेकौं भाषा र विधाका गीत सुनाइरहेको छ । सुरुमै ‘आइएम गोइङ टु टेल अ सेक्रेट’ भन्दै, उनको भलो होस्, म्याडोना आएकी थिइन् र अघिसम्म मेट्रोको ‘करले तु भी मोहब्बत’ बजेको थियो । भर्खरै ‘गार्लिक मस्टार्ड पिकर्स’को इट्रुमेन्टल ‘इफ इभर यु वेर माइन’ सुरु भयो । यसपछि के बज्ला मलाई नसोध्नुस् । नारायणगोपालले ‘मलाई नसोध’ भन्ने हुन् या नेल्ली फुर्टाडोले ‘से इट राइट’ चिच्याउने हुन् या नोरा जोन्सको सुरिलो भाका आउने हो या राजा हिन्दुस्तानीको ‘परदेशी’, केही थाहा छैन । या जिमी हेन्डि्रक्स ? गेरी मुर ? मोहम्मद रफी या चियाबारीमा रिमिक्स । ८० जीवीको यो सेतो, अति सुन्दर र निकै मायालु भाँडोमा मुस्किलले ३० जीवी ठाउँ तीन हजारजति गीतले ओगटेका छन् । ती सबै गीत सुन्न मलाई लगातार ७० दिन लाग्नेछ, तर आइपोड भर्ने अभियान जारी छ । (continuing reading it here)
My iPod has gone through wide array of usage in various places that, I think, American (or any other for that matter) iPods rarely go through. My iPod has done white water rafting, almost did bungee jumping, has reached to some of the remotest corners of Nepal walking for as many as 10 hours a day. It has boated over the biggest and second deepest lake in Nepal. And many people- from journalists of downtown Kathmandu to shepherds in remotest corner of one of the most remote districts in Nepal- have enjoyed the music in it with equal enthusiasm. I was enthralled when two boys of Jumla, a remote district, were humming songs that they were listening to the iPod: latest Nepali folk remix that they were listening for the first time in their life though they were very good at singing local folk tunes of the region. A shepherd near Rara Lake was fascinated when he heard a song about ‘wool and sheep’ in the iPod. He was surrounded by his sheep as he was listening to the song.
To own a machine like iPod for a person like me is to fulfill an expensive hoby for sure. It cost me more than the combined figure of my two months salary and prompted my Canadian friend who brought it for me to write this line: “I though you were supposed to buy land with that much money [almost US $ 350= Rs. 24000].” When you really want something, you really don’t care about other things and don’t care about how much you are spending. To own an iPod had become a long time dream for me and I am so happy that I finally bought one.
I was embarrassed to tell the price of iPod when an enthusiast Jumlee boy, who hosted me an evening in his house turned Dhamaka Hotel for the night, asked. He had guessed that he could get the machine in the market for about Rs. 1500. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to tell him the real price and he stared at me (and then the iPod) for about 2 minutes in disbelief. Of course no one a village like that one in Jumla believes that a small machine can fetch up to 24 thousand because iPod are the machines of a different world. After that evening, I told many that I bought the machine for about Rs. 2000 in Kathmandu. The irony is you can get pirated iPod in the marked for as little as Rs. 1200. Even some colleagues in my newspaper bought some from China for the same amount. There are plenty of iPod look-alikes in the market but they can be distinctly identified: just by asking one simple question- does this need iTunes? And the answer is certainly a big NO.
Thanks to the spreading use of Internet and expanding penetration of satellite channels in the households, Nepali society has been exposed to the world like never before. As Thomas L. Friedman likes to say, the world has become flat and we in Nepal are also experiencing some aspects of the flattening process. At the same time, there is this stark reality that many people in Nepal are living under poverty and in miserable life. Millions of them don’t have access to electricity and telephone, let alone computer and Internet- two essential things to have an iPod. That’s the biggest irony.
Theme of the blog: Now you can be online from anywhere in Kathmandu and 52 other districts of Nepal, thanks to the PCMCI card distributed by Nepal Telecom from yesterday
The season has started in Kathmandu (and other parts of Nepal) for laptops to go wireless. As I am typing these lines, I am elated to see a web page being downloaded with the wireless connection that I purchased today. Feeling like flying over the sky thinking aloud: “I am freed from the world of wires.” Thanks to the PCMCI card that Nepal Telecom started distributing from yesterday in BICC, New Baneswor where Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) is organizing 13th edition of CAN Info Tech. I bought teh CDMA-based data card this afternoon for Rs. 8, 890 and installed it in my machine with the help of a NT employee. It feels so special to be connected wirelessly in Kathmandu. It was always a dream. Now, in principle, I can go online from anywhere in Kathmandu and other 50 districts of Nepal. Yes, I must carry this laptop with me and pay the bills.
I am happy but I strongly feel that Nepal Telecom overcharged us. The pre-paid card that includes Rs. 500 equivalent of Internet connection (25 paisa per 100 KB), is very expensive and NT hasn’t justified why it is charging that much money. In addition to that, I had to make my voice louder when two employees refused to give me back the change. I gave them Rs. 9 thousand and they had to give me back Rs. 12. “We don’t have change,” said the man. “If you want change, give us the exact amount (Rs. 8, 888).” I thought that wasn’t a responsible way of handling a sales desk. They said that around 20 people bought the card today and none of them demanded the change. “So what are you doing with that money?” I asked them. The money would not go to Nepal Telecom. “Well what can we do as we don’t have any change,” the man said.
“I want the change back,” I kept insisting and another man came complaining about a different problem.
The younger man started looking into the safe box to look for the change and found Rs. 10! I was shocked with their behavior. “What is this?” I asked the man waiving two five rupees notes. He was quiet and quickly turned away from me.
While trying to install the card, it almost seemed that the card wasn’t working in my machine. I was frustrated. While sitting behind the NT desk in the Gandaki Hall of the BICC, I had to face so many curious visitors who were throwing one trillion questions about the CDMA and pre-paid mobile phone service of NT. There were no other NT staffs to deal with the visitor’s questions. That was a poor show on NT’s part. Thankfully, the card in my laptop worked and I quickly opened UWB, the homepage, and checked out WSJ and my Gmail account just to make sure I was getting things live from the web. Yes, I was!
Laptop owners lined up since yesterday in front of the Nepal Telecom stall as the Kathmandu Post had carried news about the card on front page. Since NT had announced that it had only 300 cards in stock, people were eager secure one for their machine. Two persons from our office, (Ameet Dhakal, news editor, the Kathmandu Post and Rajesh KC, cartoonist, Kantipur Publications) bought cards yesterday. In canteen yesterday afternoon, Ameet dai and I talked about accessing the web and chatting with people in different part so of the world from a paddy field in Jhapa! I am looking forward to use Internet from some of the strangest points in Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal.
I consider myself a positive thinking and optimistic person. That is why I am starting this write up by proudly (okay, not that proudly, just normally) declaring that I have a brand new cell phone. It’s LG, a switch from Samsung that I used for almost four years. Friends congratulated me as soon as they hear about my new phone but the euphoria would soon disappear as they got my explanation about buying the talking machine. “You used to have Samsung, haina?” a friend asked. “Yes, I used to,” I replied, “and I lost that last night.” Lost? How come? Where? Why? I don’t know why I lost it but it is certain that the phone is no more with me. I don’t know how I lost it but I have vague idea about the location where I might have lost the thing. I am telling here the story because, by now, I am nearly tired of repeating it to different persons. But let me admit it right here and right now that never before I enjoyed like this time telling stories- bad or good- that are related to me and my activities. Please be seated comfortably on that chair because I am afraid the story is going to be pretty much long.
I am, according to a columnist in a Nepali newspaper, seen “fiddling with the damn” new cell phone that I bought three days ago. This LG set has a digital camera, MP3 player, FM radio, voice recorder. Plus, I can also make calls and talk with other people. Pic by “coffee freak’s counterpart”)
Once upon a time…No, I am not starting like this. I am directly entering into the story. On the day, night actually, of 25 July 28, 2006 (Tuesday) at around 9:45 PM, on my way to home, I SMSed (send text message) the headline for the story based on the interview of British Ambassador Andrew Hall to Ananta Wagle (no personal relation), the desk in charge of the last page (Arts and Style) of Kantipur. Not receiving the delivery report in 5 minutes, I called him and made sure that the headline was received. That SMS and that call to Ananta Wagle turned out to be the last ones from my Samsung. Climax revealed? Wait, the plot are always interesting than climax in reality shows! (Did I write that? Honestly I have no idea what I am trying to say by writing what I wrote in previous sentence. Confused? Look, plots are always confusing.)
After about 10 minutes, I got off the vehicle, entered inside home, ate dal bhat as usual and turned on the TV. CNN was giving live (and recorded reports) of Middle East (okay, West Asia) conflict and I really wanted to follow the development for some reasons. Hum, the reason is that if you don’t have any idea about the conflict, channels like BBC World and CNN, magazines like Time and Newsweek and papers (which I read on the web) like New York Times and the Washington Post become redundant to you and I don’t want to let that happen.
So I was tuning in to CNN and I woke up in the middle of the night to see that the channel was still broadcasting reports from Israel and Lebanon. I don’t wear watch and I am completely dependent on phone for time. I looked for the set here and there, under the pillow and inside the quilt, on the desk, over the table and near the computer. No, phone was nowhere. I wanted to apply the same tactic now that I often apply whenever I can’t find the phone: dial the number from home phone. I did that and no ring tone came this time from corner of the room. Instead, I heard a surprising message which was enough for me to conclude that the phone was no more in my house: “The mobile that you are dialing has been switched off.”
Waw that was quite an experience! I had never heard such message while dialing my own number, that too in the middle of the night. Why would I switch off the phone? CNN was still talking about the conflict and what was I doing? What would you do, by the way, when you suddenly realize in the middle of the night that you cell phone, however old it was but with full of important contact numbers and SMS messages, is lost? Would you go to bed and still have a sound sleep? I didn’t because I had a reason to stay awake other than the shock of loosing the mobile: I hadn’t read that day’s editions of Hindustan Times and the Times of India. I started turning pages. That was a nice way of preparing yourself for the sleep 2 A.M.
In this photo taken a few weeks ago, I am seen talking (pretending) on my Samsung phone. I lost it three days ago and bought a new one. Pic by Email Wagle
Woke up at 7 and the first thing that I did was try dialing my own number. Oh..ho..the phone is working but do my utter surprise the line was cut off by the person on the receiving end. It’s now confirmed that the phone had fallen into the hands of a person (feels like the person is he but don’t want to be basied on the basis of gender) who doesn’t want to return the thing. Okay, I thought, what can I do other than calling the office of Nepal Telecom and telling them to close down my SIM connection? Meanwhile I also called Buddhi, the driver, and asked him if he saw the phone. No, he didn’t. My guess is that the cell must have fallen on the street while I got off the vehicle.
I contact NT to notify them about the lost. It took me almost 20 minutes to know from them that I physically have to appear in front of them with photocopy of my citizenship certificate. Waw, I was a smart. I had already carried citizenship certificate with me and I went to the Jawalakhel office of NT because I had subscribed the connection from there. I paid Rs. 565 to cancel the old and get new SIM card. I saw many other people who had gone there with similar problems. Seeing them queuing up for the new SIM card, my reportorial instinct started functioning and I started interviewing some of the folks. The story appeared in Saturday’s edition of Kantipur. As they say in journalism, what is bad for the world is good for the newsroom or bad news is good news, I was happy to be able to exploit my own problem and create a story out of that.
So I bought a new SIM card and headed for New Road to buy a phone set. I took out money from ATM in Harihar Bhavawan. It feels so good to see money dropping out from a machine after you enter the card and type some unusual numbers. It feels great to have money that is readily available at your wish. Wish I had more on that machine!
I went to New Road and went to the same shopping complex where I went with Sudheer Sharma nearly three years ago to buy the Samsung set. There weren’t many choices in the first shop and went up a floor. There I was offered a “brand new model and cool Nokia that just arrived in the market.” I wasn’t much interested in cool model but I wanted something better than the one that I was using before. “This is one from LG,” said the sales boy. “With this you can take photos, play MP3 music, and tune in to FM stations, record voice.” I think he forget to say something like this: Oh..yea, you can have conversations with other people if you want! LG set had one year guarantee and that was available for Rs. 10,500. Having a camera phone wasn’t my priority as I carry a digital camera (my famous Caonon digi cam, don’t you remember?) all the time with me but to have FM in the phone was necessary. A very cool friend of mine had suggested me to have a FM tuner mobile so that I can keep track of songs and news from the stations.
With the new mobile phone, I am being exposed to the latest trends (well, not so latest still definitely latest compared to my previous experience) in the cellular world. I am already enjoying more features in the new phone though it will take quite some time for me to gather all those phone numbers that I lost along with the Samsung set. I feel that I should have bought a set month ago. Actually I was planning to do that. I was thinking of giving the old set to my brother who said that he would apply for a SIM card as soon as NT opens its pre-paid subscription. Now, I have to buy a new one for him.
Other than talking over the phone, I think, I will be using the FM radio facility the most. Just like now: I am tuned in to 103 FM that is to say BBC World Service that is talking something about Israel and Hezbollah. Its 11 PM and I don’t think I will tune in to CNN today.