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A Busy Day at the Office

A busy day today...


I set the fan on slow when I went to bed last night whereon it started chirping. Very loudly. So I turned it off and the chirping stopped. I turned it back on and the chirping started again. Even though this has "intermittent squeaky celing fan" written all over it I did get up and try to find the ciccada which am I convinced is hiding in my room and is chirping at the fan noise.

Eventually I dug out some earplugs and promptly slept like a log.


Over to AK's this morning, then, for a 10am start. Or it would have been had the rickshaw man taken the short way round. We went on the 16km long way round the airport. At this point I should say that under the morning sun it felt very hot indeed.

Not to worry, AK was in fine fettle and the bike was still there! Naturally, the first thing we did was to retire to his flat and have some samosas.

Somewhat surprisingly the bike started first time. Top stuff. Having probably upset a few neighbours by revving the engine underneath the flats (where it reverberates very loudly) we shifted over to a shady spot and pumped the tyres up before heading off round the local garages looking for a man to swap the tyres over.

No men, only boys, none of whom liked the look of cocking up the tyres on a big (to them) European bike. AK was then getting nervous about going any further without bike papers on our persons so feeling pretty pleased with ourselves we retired for lunch. (Yes, all we'd achieved was pumping two tyres up (with an electric air compressor) but it was very hot.)

A quick thank you to Mrs AK who'd prepared lunch for us before nipping off to perform some dentistry leaving AK the difficult task of reheating it. Which he did very well.

We then phoned Kaulsons -- who remembered all my ToDo list (even though he hadn't replied to my email) -- who suggested that I leave the bike with them until Monday. What? A subsequent call, after AK suggested I try and force them to do something this afternoon to minimise the wait on Monday elicited that I might not even get the bike back on Monday. Grumble grumble. Oh, and by the way, they'd moved the shop.

Luckily, he SMS'd a GPS location and I could find it pretty easily turning up about half an hour late at 15:30. After the de rigeur wait they took a look at the bike and decided it was in such an unfit state to be on the roads that they would do everything for me today. Top!

Let's remind ourselves of the ToDo list (with my estimated time for a moderately talented person with the right tools): change tyres, front and rear (half an hour); change brake pads, front and rear (half an hour); change oil and oil filter (half an hour).

So I toddled off and looked at the boss' pictures of the big bikes they have in Delhi -- none of which I've ever seen in India. He did say they were having a ride out tomorrow which sounded vaguely interesting until he mentioned that they started at 5...5am. To avoid the traffic. Perhaps not.

After 90 minutes or so I realised I still had the bike keys in my pocket and no-one had come asking for them to turn the engine over -- something you need to do when changing the oil on the XT to shuffle to oil from the sump round the engine (or something technical like that). I found the bike with the rear wheel off, two empty bottles of oil nearby and nothing else done. Great, it's going to be a long day.

Being terribly technical myself and all that I supervised the engine turning over to coerce them to put in the next 0.6 ltrs of oil required to prevent the engine seizing up.

By now it was gone six and the boss man came past (which is when I discovered they were going to do everything for me today) and prodded the guys to take the wheels off to be changed.

There seemed to be a lot of Kaulson staff hanging about at this point and as we retired back to the bosses office (he had pointed out that changing the tyres would be an hour) he explained that the staff had been working 9-10:30 every day for the last few months and that he had promised they could all go home at 6 today. Until he'd decided that they were going to finish my job tonight whereon he'd had to keep a few guys behind. Whether they stayed because they wanted the overtime or wanted their jobs was a bit hard to tell.

The boss then went on to explain his staff perks: they got a break for chai at 11 and 4, they had half an hour for lunch and at 2pm they could go play sports or do whatever in the 15 minutes break he gave them then, finally, everyone on the premises at 7pm got samosas and chai. Including me. Top.

I don't think that's quite enough, though, to tempt me into the Kaulson empire.

There'd been a few interesting people floating through during my time there: a guy who was about to join a party of 60-odd Enfield riders heading up to Leh (his advice on the K... Pass is to only hang around for a few minutes -- good advice); a wastrel rich kid type who claimed to own 60-odd classic scooters and was bemoaning how people are jumping into the market and selling British and Italian parts for lots of money and his chum who seemed a wealthy business man-type (and seemed to know about Banbury -- if only for the (now Tata-owned) Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover factories up the road at Gaydon. They both toddled off into the night on their (Vespa?) scooters having scoffed an entire plate of biscuits between them.

So come 9pm (yes, almost six hours after I'd arrived) I could finally pay -- by a non-Nationwide credit card -- and head off myself. Back at the hotel for 21:30 having negotiated the mean streets of New Delhi without the aid of a headlamp which appears to have blown. I have a spare bulb. Tomorrow is the time to find out if it's the right part...

So, in summary, the bike is sorted. Now a quiet day tomorrow -- AK suggested I go down to the Ambience Mall in Gurgaon if I want to find my (long-life) rice and sultanas...(emergency foodstuffs).


As an tangential note to why this update is appearing after midnight (my time) it should come as no surprise that I have been wasting my time in front of a computer.

I have used SquirrelMail (a sort of browser based email like HotMail, Yahoo and, in fact, most mail systems these days) on previous trips to read my mail which has been fine until I tried to reply to someone recently when the International Character handling of SquirrelMail turned out to be very poor.

So this evening I thought I'd quickly install Thunderbird and see how that performed. Foolish boy. After Firefox had screwed up the download several times Thunderbird turns out to use a really very clever automatic system for finding IMAP and SMTP servers and whether you can use TLS or STARTTLS and other Good Things. Which is great until it gets it wrong which it just so happens to do with my system. And once it gets it wrong it remembers the wrong setting forever. Stupid stupid stupid.

When I discovered that people had been moaning about this on the forums -- who, after all, might have multiple accounts on one server, say? let alone having a login name different to your canonical email address -- and that the fixes involve astute timing to stop the auto-configuration as well a deft deletion of obscure configuration files, a precise choice of dialog box clicks to prevent further damage and then careful re-editing of the old-school config options and then repeat, without error, for each account...I sort of gave up. Another hour of my life wasted in software configuration hell.

There's no-one to blame here, except myself for installing a rotten version of PHP (I believe). Certainly no-one with a name in, say, Cyrillic...(yes, you! :-) ).

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