While we were dodging elephant dung and toutish cows, two potted plants mysteriously appeared on our doorstep.
I had suspected the gardener as he had recently asked about when we will finally get potted plants for our front. The next day, more showed up. The following day, he showed up, beaming. He wanted to know what we thought of the plants. Charlotte loved them. Daniela and I agreed that we liked them, but we would rather have given the go-ahead before he added them. Nevertheless, we figured that there was no harm and decided that three hundred Rupees would probably cover his costs.
The day after that, a dozen more pots appeared.
Power is unreliable here. I don’t mean that it drops once every couple of months unreliable, but that it drops daily – or multiple times daily – unreliable. Powerchute says that I’ve lost power 15 times in the past 8 days. Today alone, the power has been like a yo-yo; up and down seven times. And the weather has been nice. Let’s see what it does when it starts raining.
I had mentioned to the manager of the apartment one day that I needed to get a UPS. He told me that there is a phase transition when the generator kicks in (the apartment complex has a generator) and that a UPS can’t handle it. I need an inverter instead. Since “inverter” is the local term for “uninterruptable power supply”, he pretty much told me that a UPS can’t handle the phase change, so I need a UPS. He also offered to get me in touch with a power consultant who could help me. The consultant called a few hours later. He then recommended a fairly high end American Power Conversion (APC) SmartUps. What happened next was the polar opposite of the piano guys experience; and an experience in its own right.
A couple of hours after speaking with the consultant, an engineer from APC’s Bangalore office calls. He wants to verify my needs. No it is not a data center. No it is not a server; just a single workstation. No I don’t need a bazillion hours of runtime, I’ve got a generator available. I just need to bridge the time between the mains dropping and the generator kicking in. Oh and it should not choke on any polarity changes. They then recommend a version of the SmartUps with an extendable battery pack. A short while later, another APC rep calls, then another. Finally, the original consultant calls to again review my requirement. Then something amazing happens. One of the APC people calls to tell me that the original spec is overkill. The BR 1100 model will do the job just fine and costs 1/3 as much. It just lacks some fancy server/datacenter features that it appears I don’t need. The original consultant calls later, confirms the changed recommendation and gets my email addy to send me a quote.
That was on a Friday. The following Monday, two techies show up at the apartment to install it. They actually showed up “on-time”, which in India is +/- 2 hours, as opposed to “perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow”. They did just click through the powerchute install, taking all the defaults. Then I had to translate from German to English (German copy of XP + Powerchute using all the defaults = German install of Powerchute) for them as they walked me through it. And they did not even want to be tipped (i.e. no “installation fee”), as real professionals would have it. Oddly, the UPS cost 1/5 of what the piano cost. I’d have expected the piano guys to be this way more than the UPS guys.
BTW – As an unsolicited plug, APC gives great service in Bangalore. 😉
Amazingly, the customs brokers actually showed up last night with our household goods. They had about half a dozen guys; some where customs brokers and some were truck drivers. One of them was even barefoot. They would not let me carry anything. When I went to grab a box and carry it up, they were adamant, “no Sir”! Dani and I had a bit of consternation with one another about whether or not we should tip “them”, who of them (she said not the brokers, but the drivers) and how much. Just as I was about to pull the leader aside and how much I should tip his movers, I saw him tip the mover. I can’t express the relief I felt. This gives me an idea for a new line of work here. Tipping consultant for expats!
Everything was still in the air freight palette when it arrived. Customs never even looked in it. In this regard, I am pleased that BLI’s computer systems did not work the day Daniela went to clear it through customs. They usually rifle through all of the boxes at customs. Instead, I did that at home, grabbing the most important items; namely Charlotte’s stuffed sheep, Sammy’s Legos and wooden train tracks, my coffee press and “real” coffee mugs (not the tiny 100ml things we have been using), namely our easiest to replace Starbucks city mugs; i.e. Heidelberg, Frankfurt, New York and Philly. The harder to replace ones, such as the Barcelona mug that Holger brought back from Spain last month, were left behind in Rotenberg, lest they be destroyed by the movers. We’ll leave the rest in boxes until we find a proper apartment.
Sammy was asleep when the movers delivered everything last night. This morning, when he work up, it was like Christmas. He was wide eyed and exited to have his favorite toys back.
My piano saga continues. They actually showed up before 3PM yesterday. They came at 2:30 in fact. Naturally, the doorbell rang at precisely the moment that I was dialing the phone to talk to a colleague in Germany. I did reckon that they would not be come at the promised time, but who could have guessed that they would be here precisely at 2:30, which was when I scheduled my phone conference. Am I to presume that if I have a meeting scheduled at time XXX, I pretty much have to block my whole day for it?
To make matters more fun, they explained that they forgot their tools yesterday. ??? Did they get stuck in the mud or did they forget their tools? Okaaaaayyyy guys, which is it? Oh and this “must be set up by a specialist” thing? It does not involve calibration or anything. It is just putting the screws for the frame together. If you have ever assembled anything from Ikea and know which end of a screwdriver to hold, you are good to go.
So they set up the piano while I was in the phone meeting and Daniela watched them set it up to see how it was done. Afterwards, I come back into the room and they tell me that there is a 300RS setup fee. WTF?!? The dealer specifically told me that the price quoted was complete, installation included. I paid it, but I was livid afterwards. It was not the money. 300 rupees is the price of two small lattes in Heidelberg. I specifically asked if there was an additional setup fee and the dealer had emphatically said no. I was initially livid at the “dishonesty of the store not being upfront about the price”.
Afterwards, Dani said to me that the guys had loitered about after setting it up and looked as if they were waiting for a tip. When one was not forthcoming it seems, they mentioned the setup fee. We had discussed whether or not we should tip the setup team beforehand. We had concluded that because it was being set up by “experts”, then a tip would not be appropriate. Someday, I’ll get the tipping rules here. Either that, or they really were not up front about the setup fee. Who knows!