The friday dawned cloudy with promises of rain and the TMC brigands…. er brigades, promising to bring the city traffic to a stand-still between 4 - 5 PM. Around 10:35 AM, Susmit and Sayamindu landed up near my house and together we headed down to RCCIIT - a local govt. run engineering college with a whole bundle of equipment - 3 laptops, 1 OLPC XO, 1 AMD UMPC, 1 Intel ClassmatePC, other assorted hardware and freebie goodies like stickers and badges from Gnome and Firefox. The occasion was TechTrix ‘08 - the college’s annual Tech Fest which Susmit wrote about here.
Reached the college, the final 120 meters had to be trudged on foot as the road was all dug up, courtesy a sewage project under implementation. Dipanjan and a few others from the local RCCIIT LUG (which is called a SLUG or Students’ Linux User Group for some reason). There was a power-cut and we were late in starting off the “show”. There were about 85 - 100 students, mainly from the 1st year and a few from the 2nd and the 3rd years, as well as a few teachers. I went up first, it was more of a general introduction to Free & Open Source Software and how it pervades all aspects of computing - from super computers to embedded applications like mobile phones and everything in between. Susmit was up next and he spoke about the Fedora project and how to start using and contributing to it. Finally with time running short, Sayamindu went up with a short but lively talk about the OLPC project.
In about 2 hours time, we tried to give these young students an overall idea about FOSS - using and contributing, trying to share with them the excitement from multi-dimensional perspectives. By the time it was over, the heavens had opened up. So we sat down and finished off the packets of snacks that the organisers had arranged. We ended up discussing with our young hosts what they could do next. Around 1:45 PM, already getting late for a proposed meeting with Tamal-da, we decided to call up a taxi and leave. Dipanjan our principal host volunteered to venture out in the torrential rains and get a cab as we were anxious not to get our equipment wet.
Dipanjan disappeared for 15 minutes and then suddenly came back thoroughly drenched. He informed us that the cab was there, but then very apologetically added that we would have to cross the sewage-cum-storm water canal over a foot bridge as the taxi can’t come to this side (college side) of the canal as the roads were all dug up.
The rains had by then dropped down to a drizzle but the roads were flooded. So, we jumped across large pools of water using slippery bricks as toe-holds and hoping not to skid and to get our gear across as dry as possible. The footbridge turned out to be standard issue rickety construction made of bamboo, over a hyacinth covered water body that looked poisonous in color. We crossed it in a single file and they even charged 50p (about 1 cent) per head as “toll”, finally clambering up the slippery slopes covered with slush from what-nots and finally we got into the cab waiting there for us.
By then it was already late and the spectre of the TMC road blocks looming large and ominous we decided to cut out proposed trip to Tamal-da’s office short and headed into the China Town for some much needed food and a place to hangout for next 3 hours so that we could “ride out” the crazy road blockade enforced traffic snarls.
We decided to go to our regular joint - Kafulok. But on reaching there we found the place’s to remain closed between 4 - 6 PM (we had never come at this time of the day before)… baah!!!!! Having left our taxi, it was now left for us to trudge back through the slushy lanes overflowing with the effluents from the tanneries…. nice touch… even nicer with Sayamindu detailing an even more worse Lake Market during the monsoons… YUCK!!!! suddenly our present situations looked a lot better.
We ended up going to the Hot Wok (very imaginative name indeed . Since Susmit is a teetotaler, it was left to Sayam and me to polish off a pint of Vodka and a couple of Bloody Marys while Susmit nursed a plain water and a Virgin Mary. That the excitement was far from over was pointed out by Susmit - the label of our bottle of White Mischief vodka
By 7:45 we decided that we should be able to get transport and get back home. And so we got on the 2nd cab we found and headed home without any further incidents.