To India with Sofie: Day 4

Tuesday September 4, 2012

stomach problems

This day was a day of rest and recovery for Sofie. She had become very thirsty and wanted to drink some water but she vomited one more time early in the morning. So we continue with oral rehydration solution. This solution contains salts chosen not to disturb the stomach. In fact, that ‘s why it tastes quite bad. I tasted more than a sip to give a good example. O.R.S. is designed to be like stomach fluid. And it tastes … , like stomach fluid. Adding sugar doesn’t help much.

I phoned our doctor in Belgium. He said to be patient, and continue maybe 24 hours with O.R.S. and trying water every now and then to see if the stomach has already stabilized. This saved Sofie and me from half a day (or more) in a Delhi hospital.
Well respected doctors do not receive patients in their home office. Apart from diagnosing what we already know, they are prone to give as many prescriptions as possible. According to a middle class inhabitant of India, the longer the list, the better the doctor.

My memory brought me far back in a time when a large amount of alcohol did more or less the same to my own stomach. In those days, I got a prescription for a bottle of Pepsi Cola. Later that morning I gave Sofie exactly that, and it tasted a lot better than ORS, and it digested likewise. Cola contains phosphoric acid, and has a Ph value close to that of stomach fluid. Later in the afternoon, Sofie would try potato chips and become a happy healthy child again.

waiting for a friend

Back in the month of May, when i decided to go to India, I would have wanted to fly to Delhi by the end of June. But I had to unexpectedly wait 1 week longer for Sofie’s visa. In consequence, all comfortable cheap flights had gone. Having browsed through anything till the 20th of July, and still no cheap flights in sight, I decided to skip all searching and book September 1. The unexpected delay happened to be a gift from heaven. My father got very ill days later, and he would take 8 weeks to completely recover. My postponed flight allowed me to help his wife and my sister taking care of him.

Another side effect of our September flight was that I would be able to see my very good friend, nephew of my wife, and spiritual teacher, Tenzin Kunsang. He travelled from Minneapolis to Delhi today. He’d make a stop in Amsterdam, and by one of those weird coincidences connect to Delhi with the same flight we came 3 days earlier.

I was not the only one waiting to see my friend; some other friends started to pop in from the afternoon onwards. Sofie received a lot of attention from them, so I had the opportunity to go out for a walk and look around in the neighbourhood: C.R. Park.

C.R. Park

Somehow, my wife managed to get the message across that when in India, they should not let me go out alone and Tashi, Tenzin’s brother, came running after me. He had arrived late yesterday evening, waiting for his brother whom he hadn’t seen for 3 months.

I already knew that Chittaranjan Park is a quite and green area, with many parks, few busy streets inhabited by the middle class. I saw at least 3 Bengali schools. Later I read that they where first inhabited by displaced people who had fled today’s Bangla Desh during the disastrous events after the Indian Partition. This link talks about the actual death toll.

I had the impression that Tashi had not walked around here often. We did 4 blocks and discovered parks, schools, a police station, a fish market, a business centre and a lot of people going home from work. It was quite hot, like 33°C, and the sun shone heavily on our heads.
I think that within something like 75 minutes we went back inside our host’s A/C cooled living room to watch Cbeebies and Nickelodeon with Sofie.


Round noon I received a fragment of a phone call from an old customer in Holland. I had a computer business till the end of 2010. This business went to sleep and i concentrated on teaching linux and cisco afterwards. I never completely abandoned the remaining 3 or 4 customers who were migrating to other systems, but I didn’t hear much of them in the past 2 years.

After my walk with Tashi, I phoned back and was informed that all of their 15 printers had become unreachable and jobless. Worse, they couldn’t bill anyone any more. I gave them a phone number from someone with enough skills and knowledge to repair everything, but unfortunately, this person was also on holiday.

Relocating the logical connection of all these printers was the only option, however, how to do that from Delhi?

Our visiting neighbour with the name Karma, overheard my conversation and brought a netbook with 2G internet. I could access Google-Drive and in consequence the configuration of my customer’s network as it was back in 2009, my last visit to them. They gave me a login to their new system, from where I could create a virtual machine taking over all the tasks of the one that broke down. I carefully watched the internet load, not to charge Karma too much, but apparently, remote working for 5 hours did only cost 30 megabytes. Finally, I could print on their printers; 10 minutes later, they could too.

Even to me, working with computers for more than 25 years now, this is amazing. From the customer’s point of view, it is close to a miracle. But it isn’t. This is what all those people are doing for HP, IBM, and other big multinationals in India, for a salary 5 times less as what we used to get.
This is exactly the reason why I have no business running any more. Maybe I should relocate, and start working from India.


By 9.30pm, our host and Tashi went to the airport to collect Tenzin. His flight was delayed till 11.30pm, and they brought him to the apartment round 1 am. Sofie, Thinlay and I made the easy effort to stay awake. In our heads 1am is still something like 10.30pm. And Thinlay, … he doesn’t need sleep 🙂
We gave our friend a warm welcome, and went to bed soon after. Tenzin had been under way close to 24 hours, and needed to rest urgently.


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