March 2007 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman

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31/3/2007 - Whoops, Gone Again

Another month has escaped, eaten by work and the inexorable passage of time.

The Cricket World Cup has turned into a murder mystery, and England, judging by their performance against Ireland, will soon be joining the ranks of the homeward bound. As one might have expected, the Aussies are rampant, putting the Bangladesh team back in their place today with a 10 wicket victory.

At work, I'm multi-threading on two Java projects, one of which is Tomcat servlet container app, and on a legacy C++ application. Very busy, by the time I get home in the evenings I'm feeling pretty sluggish.

Adia's mini-jungle.

18/3/2007 - National Mourning

Today seems like a beautiful Sunday morning. Adia watered our mini-jungle while I made some breakfast, and all looked well in our microscopic view of the world.

However, I hardly dare go out on the street in Bangalore today. It would not surprise me if there were people with black armbands, and a few burning buses. India were thrashed last night by a youthful, and previously discounted Bangladesh team, in the world cup. There is public rage against Sehwag and Agarkar, calls for Greg Chappel to be sacked, and veiled noises about Dravid as captain. The anger and dismay is understandable given the status of cricket in India, but also given that this was supposed to be one of the 'easy' matches that would usher India through into the last eight. OK, they have one more 'easy' match against Bermuda, but then they have to play Sri Lanka on Friday. Given the psychological blow of yesterday's match, and the fact that Sri Lanka are a pretty hot team at the moment, that game is going to be a real challenge.

Of course, the Pakistan team must feel even worse. They are on their way home; while Ireland - who I did not even know had a cricket team - are through to the top eight with the West Indies.
12/3/2007 - A Timely Announcement

I found an interesting snippet of information on the web today - well interesting to me, at least. My previous investigations had left me very depressed about what I would have to pay for a decent Internet connection when we eventually reach Tanzania. In Bangalore I pay around $40/month for an up-to 512 kBits/s connection. It looked like a similar connection in Tanzania might cost me around $250/month - expensive satellite bandwidth. This would not be something I could fund out of my modest pension.

I was aware that there was a project in the works to lay a submarine fibre-optic connection (EASSy) down the coast of East Africa, but had formed the impression that this was mired in politics and funding problems. Today though it was announced in various places that a contract had been signed, and that the project is slated for completion by end 2008 - close enough to my timetable. I can put up with something slower initially and keep the cost down as long as I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. One of the interesting possibilities about a high speed connection from East Africa to the rest of the world is that the area could become an outsourcing target. There are plenty or people who speak decent English, and the education system is OK. Shut up Steve, you're supposed to be retiring - but hey, you never know!

Meistersingers at the Met.

10/3/2007 - Fickle Technology

My recording of my favourite Wagner opera has got somewhat beaten up - I'm not good at looking after my CDs. So today, when I discovered that the Saturday matinee broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera in NY was Meistersingers, I resolved to attempt to record it from the streamed WQXR broadcast. I dare say this is illegal, but the temptation was too much. However, you get what you deserve. Having set up the software to record for six and a half hours starting at 10:30 at night, I retired to bed. I awoke in the morning only to find that the Windows Media Player had dropped its Internet connection during the interval after act 2, so I only had about half of the piece.

I was slightly mollified by the fact that the choir work in the performance was not what you'd call brilliant. If Simon from the American Idol judging panel had been there, it might even have got 'hideous'. That's unfair really. The performance that I know and love is the classic EMI recording done by Herbert von Karajan using two German opera house choruses. But Von Karajan was in a position to smack the rail with his baton, and start the section again if confronted with such imperfections. James Levine did not have that luxury. His performance was in front of paying punters, and once started had to go as it went.

GPT with women.

1/3/2007 - A Birthday

Today we were invited to Florence's birthday at the Windsor Manor, a.k.a. the Sheraton. There's a bar there called the 'Dublin Bar', and Adia and I both went there intent on eating fish and chips, which we thought with a name like that, they would probably feature. We have been deprived of this particular comestible since Adia found a cockroach in her roast chicken at the only restaurant that used to get anywhere close to this British delicacy.

The assumption was correct, but the description did not sound very much like fish and chips as I understand them. The fish was described as being in breadcrumbs, and the chips as potato wedges - hmm. We found one of the chefs passing through the bar, and asked if he could bend the menu a bit, cook the fish in batter, and give us at least regular french fries, if not the proper larger British chips. He actually accepted the commission quite gracefully, and the outcome was good enough so that the remainder of the party when they arrived and found us eating them enthusiastically, all ordered the same thing. I attempted to persuade them to make the menu change permanent - we'll see.
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