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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Internet cupboard

The word 'market' in India is used to describe something that is perhaps a cross between a market with free-standing stalls as you might find in South-east Asia and a shopping strip in an Australian (or other Western) town or suburb. The stalls in the Indian markets are permanent like those in a shopping strip but unlike those in the shopping strip, you don't usually enter. It's too small - sort of like a big cupboard.

I needed to pick up a few hardware items and found such a stall. They appeared to have as good a range of small hardware items as you might find in an Australian hardware store. How or where they store it all is beyond me. There is a woman behind the counter and the husband stands on the footpath along with the customers, helping from there.

'I need a small lock.'

She shuffles around for a short while and produces a tiny lock.

'Do you have one a little bigger?'

And out it comes.

'That's good. Now do you have an electric plug adapter?' One is produced but it's not right. She pulls out a few more and I find the one I need.

What else does she have in this stall that is not much bigger than a cupboard but seems to work like a magician's hat? I'm tempted to test her out by asking for a few more things except I'd have to buy them.

After I'd been staying at the Youth Hostel for a few days I decided I needed to go online. My Argentinian friend offered to show me where the nearest internet cafe was. We took a pleasant ten minute stroll to another 'market' and he pointed to the cupboard that contained the internet cafe.

I opened the door expecting to find a passageway leading to a bigger room behind but no, this was it.

It was a two storey cupboard with two compartments on each shelf, ie a total of four computers. The computers were fairly ancient, running an antique version of Windows and the connection was quite slow. It took me back about five years but wasn't really a problem as I was only checking my email.

At one point there were two guys together on the computer next to mine and they needed help from the operator so there were four of us cramped on the one cupboard shelf.

I've used other internet cafes in India since that one and I'm pleased to say they're more like I've experienced in other parts of Asia and usually run XP. Speeds are not up to what I'm used to in Bangkok, in fact no better than I'd expect to find in Cambodia. Maybe there are better cafes elsewhere in India but, so far, I haven't found one.

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