August 2005 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman

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30/8/2005 - Unphotographable

I have a kind of love/hate relationship with this country. I hate the pollution and the smokers, but then at other times it will just come up with some situation that blows you away.

Since this was my first day back at work after a break, I got dispensation from Terry to stop at the Watchman on the way home. As a result, I was riding along MG Road to the east at about 7:00pm. This was late dusk. The sky looking up to the east was a dark azure blue, but down toward the horizon it changed to a fantastic deep blue/purple colour. Now I know this was just an artefact of the pollution in Bangalore, but the visual effect was amazing.

Later, as I was riding along Cambridge Road, there were lightening flashes so the south west. I persuaded a reluctant Terry to go up to the roof and watch. There was this large thunderhead cloud drifting to the north east with lots of internal lightening. Ahead of it were what I can only suppose were Sirius and Jupiter. I can't come up with anything else that would be so bright. It was similar to one of those spectacular pictures of distant galaxies, but right on our doorstep.

To cap my early evening, Terry had made ground-beef meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and spinach, which was fantastic. And no, I have not been taking anything other than the couple of pints of Kingfisher I had on the way home.

I would love to have got photos, but both subjects were impossible. For the sky colour, I'd have had to have had the camera on a tripod somewhere out of the way of the moving traffic light, which would have drowned it. For the lightening, well a) how do you know when to press the shutter, and b) it would have drowned out the star and the planet. So you'll have to take my word for it.

29/8/2005 - Fixed

Well, up to a point. This is one of those things you could chase round for ever. But I've found out how to tweak the settings, and I've uploaded a file of around 4.5M. So let's say the limit is 4M. This should serve for most digital camera JPEG files.

Be patient if your upload speed is limited. I can't see a way to present a progress indicator other than that shown by the browser, so just wait until the data entry window changes to a report of the result.

29/8/2005 - Typical

After spending some time on the file upload application I discover that there's an error in the documentation I was using, and there is in fact a limit of 2M on the size of file that can be uploaded. This is a setting on the web server, and not something I can change. I'll get on to tech support and see if I can persuade them to change it, but unfortunately for the moment it is pretty maimed.

What happens is you'll sit there and wait for a few minutes until the file uploads, and then the program will tell you it didn't get anything. Bummer!

27/8/2005 - Gadgets

In the course of messing about with scripting languages, I created a sample application that might actually be useful to some BEV readers. One half of it appears opposite - the send half. Both halves are in the menu at the top of the page (SendPic, GetPic).

You can use it when you've got one of those large picture files that gets turned down by the recipients mail server. This application can deal with quite large files. However, there is a caveat - files that have been there for more than 5 days will be ruthlessly deleted, so when you've uploaded a file, e-mail your friend with the details - the name you used for them (like if they don't know), the password if you set one, and most importantly the picture ID that the application will give you when it uploads the file. Tell them to download it pronto before it reaches it's sell-by date.

To download the picture, your friend will have to enter her/his name, the password if you set one, and the picture ID. When you send a picture you will get a reference code. You can send that to security conscious recipients and they can then enter that along with the other information. The actual data will then be checked to make sure it matches the security code so the recipient will have some assurance that it has not been tampered with. The security code is not kept in the BEV database. It is worked out when the file is uploaded, and worked out again from the data in the database when it is retrieved. If the two don't match - no download.

You probably won't bother with this if it's just a picture. However it does not have to be a picture that you send, and if it's something like a program file or a zip file you'll probably want to check.

You can also use this if you have any pictures that you'd like to donate to BEV - interesting, weird, naughty (come on girls), or whatever - the editors decision is final. The name for this purpose should be "BritsEye" (without the quotes). Choose your own password - I can find them if they're addressed to that name.

Finally I got the forum back!
Finally I got the forum back!
26/8/2005 - XMB 1.9.1

So I've learned how to install XMB again, and generally set it up so that it looks vaguely in harmony with BEV. So all those porn site promoters who had advertising on it before can register and start over again.

Now I guess I should try and spend some more time on actual content. Last weekend my excuse was that we had a deliverable due at work, and the way it worked out I worked Saturday and Sunday.

Try this for starters. It's a web page that translates other web pages into redneck-speak (along with other dialects). Here's a sample from one of my BEV posts from earlier this month:

"Af'er lunch, we made th' trip t'th' betch. Chennai is th' furthess east I've evah been, so ah thunk ah sh'd dip a ritual toe in th' Bay of Bengal, as enny fool kin plainly see. It was hot, an' hoomid, an' walkin' acrost th' san' was heavy gwine. Th' Boxin' Day tsunami hit hyar, but thar was no sign of it. Th' seawall damage had been repaired, an' th' betch jest looked like an avahage betch. Not surprisin'ly, th' Indian Ocean jest looked like an avahage ocean, as enny fool kin plainly see. So thar yo' go! Fry mah hide! It's 12:30, an' th' fust flight out is at 19:55. It was too hot t'be splorin' a peekoolyar city, an' frankly, whut we'd see of Chennai was purdy dull, so we got an auty back t'th' airpo't, an' waited, cuss it all t' tarnation."

I love it! Maybe I'll start doing the page in this style ;=)

Today is an Indian holiday, and since I worked last weekend, I'm taking Monday off too. A four day weekend - heaven! I'll try and find some interesting pics.
12/8/2005 - Surprise, Surprise

This has not happened for some considerable time. Tonight, I wrote something spontaneous. This is not to say it's of any value. But what the hell, you can take it or leave it.


They say that pride comes before a fall.
In fear of this possibility, pride is a thing
I have often tried to avoid.

Too often it comes only to disguise anger.
Justification! I was right, and they were wrong.
Easy then to slip and fall.

But sometimes pride comes unbidden.
Today, my two year old grandchild spoke to me.
Hello and goodbye, she said, and I was proud.

Perhaps there is a lesson here.
Maybe a little pride is something I'll let by.
Time will tell, if there is time.

And so it seemed, much later - as the miller told his tale
And so it seemed, much later.
11/8/2005 - Vindicated

I got a phone call from Terry today when I was at work. Our maid Shanti had told Terry she was going to a wedding, and asked if she could borrow one of Terry's saris. Terry is not a big sari buyer, but she was given a bunch of hand-me-downs, some of which she has kept.

So anyway, they were looking through them to find one that Shanti wanted to borrow, and lo-and-behold, what should appear wrapped up inside one of them in the middle of the heap? Nothing less than the plastic wallet containing all of our 'lost' documentation. So I'm not going mad, and senility is less advanced than I had supposed. I didn't take them to work, and I didn't lose them. They simply got put in a 'safe' place.

So now we need to phone our respective consulates, and cough up to having just misplaced them. The passports are useless. We signed them away when we applied for the replacements, and we probably have to turn them in.

But we do have our residence permits, and they are still good I think. I also discovered today from an India Ministry web page that the visa renewal process is a little more user friendly than I had thought. The first time you apply for an extension, it has to go to Delhi, and you know how long that took. But on subsequent extensions, the Karnataka state government, here in Bangalore, can deal with it for the next four years. The Assistant Police Commissioner at the FRO told me that this should only take about a month - positively speedy. This, combined with a confirmation of the return visa arrangement, makes me much happier.

An ocean further - the Indian Ocean from the beach at Chennai
An ocean further.

The tsunami beach - now with little or no trace
The tsunami beach.

2/8/2005 - Day Trip to Chennai

So on Monday morning we got up at the crack of dawn, checked our paperwork, and set off in a taxi for the airport. We'd allowed half an hour for the ride, but of course there was no traffic, so we got there in ten minutes.

We got some breakfast at the departures terminal. I had a chocolate croissant and coffee, and Terry had a smoothie and a chicken wrap. The chicken wrap was, of course, too spicy - it's India - so basically Terry had a smoothie for breakfast. Then we sat and waited for a while.

At 6:20 or so we got on a bus that would take us to the plane, a 30 seater turbo-prop that was hidden somewhere over at the other side of the airfield. We got a seat at the front, just forward of the propellers, and took off five minutes early. Forty five minutes later we were at the terminal in Chennai. Then by the time we'd found a taxi, driven into the centre of Chennai, and found the right gate into the US Consulate, it was 8:45.

At 9:00 they let us in, and we waited in a reception area reminiscent of Fort Knox for the citizen services staff to arrive. The place was all concrete, 3 inch thick steel doors, and bullet-proof glass - of course, the camera was not allowed inside. We were first in line, and things seemed to go smoothly. The only glitch was that they had no change when it came to paying the fee. I had to exit the consulate and walk half a mile down the street to a petrol station and back to get change for a RS500 note. We were out just after 10:00.

The British Consulate was about ten minutes auto ride away. The place was still under construction, and possibly less bulletproof. We waited a few minutes, then the woman I'd spoken to on the phone took care of me. The Brits had change, and we were out of there by 11:00.

On the way out I enquired of some of the British staff where would be a good place to have lunch, like was there a decent pub they could recommend. They looked at me blankly, pointing out that Tamil Nadu is a dry state, and that if we wanted a bar we'd have to go to one of the hotels. Terry was hungry by then, so we got an auto to the Taj, and had an early lunch.

After lunch, we made the trip to the beach. Chennai is the furthest east I've ever been, so I thought I should dip a ritual toe in the Bay of Bengal. It was hot, and humid, and walking across the sand was heavy going. The Boxing Day tsunami hit here, but there was no sign of it. The seawall damage had been repaired, and the beach just looked like an average beach. Not surprisingly, the Indian Ocean just looked like an average ocean. So there you go! It's 12:30, and the first flight out is at 19:55. It was too hot to be exploring a strange city, and frankly, what we'd seen of Chennai was pretty dull, so we got an auto back to the airport, and waited.

And waited, and waited, and waited. Terry got through her book, and I bought Jeffrey Archer's "First Among Equals". The flight was delayed and finally took off at about 23:00. An hour later, after a bumpy ride, and a bumpy landing, we arrived back in Bangalore and got a taxi home. Not a trip I'd be in a hurry to make again.
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