Between yesterday evening and a few hours ago, this blogger was involved in saving his computer from disaster. No protection on the machine, and an internet full of viruses all around. But, thanks to several people of sub-continental derivation, disaster has been averted.
I particularly thank miss Neta (from Madya Pradesh), mister Parvin Kumar (Karnataka), and Sreedevi (whose natal place was not mentioned).
The first two persons mentioned work for iYogi in Bangalore, the last one represents AVG Customer Care.
Other factors that bear on this are the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival ("Moon Festival"), spicy food, flue-cured tobaccos ("Virginia"), internet pornography, Chinese internet sites, chai ('milky tea'), the grammar of Sanskrit, and a tar-encrusted Benton briar pipe.
[EXPLICATA: Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival: The moon festival originated as a harvest festival millenia ago, and has acquired encrustations of tradition and folk-lore ever since. Like several other Chinese festive observances it is family-oriented, in the sense that Chinese people automatically think of the old home town and family home, plus relatives far away, at this time. Mooncakes, which are large confections rather resembling cat food cans in appearance, being a thin baked dough skin enclosing a sweet filling, are eaten or gifted, and re-gifted; because one is often too much for a single person to eat, and the traditional box of four of them is way too much of a good thing. Spicy Food: after several days of working outside the city, a man needs something with a little more flavour than the pallid suburbs can handle. Wherefore one goes out and has bitter melon in black bean and garlic sauce with fresh collops of fish over rice, and chili paste on the side. It is delicious. Flue-cured tobaccos: commonly called Virginia tobacco, after the place where this style of drying and curing leaf rich in natural sugars originated, the product is now sourced from all over the world; even cigar producing areas such as the Dominican Republic and Central America grow it. Most of the crop is destined for cigarettes, but the finest gets pressed and aged for pipe tobacco. Internet Pornography: most easily available smut is now electronic. There are three main types, those being American, produced largely in seedy hotel rooms in Orange County and featuring the skankiest males and females imaginable, in lighting that suggest the coroner's office is moonlighting for drugs and extra booze money; Japanese, employing extremely presentable women, filmed by food photographers and fetishists with keenly honed aesthetics; Dutch smut, often bestiality and perversions even more unimaginable, produced on location in Latin America. Chinese Internet Sites: all subjects are discussed, much interesting stuff can be found (like answers to questions about cigars, pipes, and the characteristics of Latakia tobacco). Chai: strong tea with milk, sugar, and spices; very upkicking to the tired computer-user, or a pipe-smoker recovering from a three-day suburban nightmare. Sanskrit Grammar: a fascinating subject codified most magnificently by Panini 25 centuries ago. His monumental Ashtadhyayi is the mother of all descriptive grammars, acknowledged as such since European philologists happily discovered it during the nineteenth century. Tar-encrusted Benton: a plain bent pipe which smokes like a dream, and the only item in my collection of briar smoking devices on which I allow rim-buildup.]
Upon returning from my lunch and smoke jaunt yesterday, I discovered that my computer was no longer protected from infection, quite possibly (meaning that it is extremely likely) from recent browsing through Japanese naughty videos. The Japanese product showcases very attractive women in warm lighting, and seems cheerfully berserk compared to the sleezy American effort, and is vastly more appealing than the horrifying and humourless Dutch offerings. The Dutch tend towards an almost Gothic obsessiveness and depravity.
It could also have been the Chinese sites devoted to cigars and pipes, or describing various recipes in detail. There aren't many in-depth articles in English or Dutch about dried ingredients common to the Cantonese kitchen, and certain vegetables are barely described at all.
The Chinese web is anarchic and buggy.
So of course I sought help.
And found Indians.
If it weren't for Indians, single males across the world would be staring at blank screens in the middle of the night, sadly weeping into their rapidly cooling cups of chai.
Three hours with first miss Neta, then Mr. Parvin Kumar, both of them remotely accessing my machine, running diagnostics, removing infected bits, and also trying to keep up a conversation with customers, so that we don't start acting all frustrated, and vocalizing angrily about work that needs to be done or dinner that must be eaten. They know that Americans get cranky when their blood-sugar levels drop.
Fortunately I had already eaten.
Even more fortunately, my phone has an extremely long extension cord. Which meant that three times I went into the kitchen while they were wrestling with my computer to fix myself some chai and grab another slice of mooncake to nibble on.
At this time of year, approaching the Autumn Moon Festival, this blogger does not think of the town where he grew up, but instead of Yuen Long (元朗) in the New Territories (新界), Hong Kong. The reason being, as you will immediately grasp, that that is where Wing Wah (榮華食品製造業有限公司 'wing-wa sik-pan jai-jou sat yau-haan-gong si
') is located, who produce the best mooncakes exported from the territory.
Feeling somewhat alone, what with being a single man surrounded in San Francisco by freaks of a younger generation, I had purchased a full box. Single yolk, lotus seed paste (蛋黃蓮蓉月餅).
Mooncakes are addictive. And splendid with strong milk tea.
Consequently I ate one-and-a-half.
They're very rich.
The conversation with mister Parvin Kumar gradually lapsed, so I grabbed the translation of the Aṣṭādhyāyī from the bookcase nearby, and started reading selected bits of the preface and the introduction to him.
It's fascinating stuff.
But he's probably convinced that I'm crazy because of it.
Of course, being a native speaker of Kannada (a non-Sanskritic tongue), it also has scant import in his life, even though the pattern set by Panini influenced subsequent efforts by scholars writing in other languages.
"Indeed, the tradition of the Aṣṭ was so strong that even grammars of some of the Dravidian languages were composed on its pattern, such as the Tolkāppiyam for Tamil, Līlātilakam (*), for Malayalam, Andra-sabda-cintamani for Telugu (*), and Śabda-maṇi-darpaṇa for Kannada."
[SOURCE: Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini by Sumitra M. Katre.]
What I could also have mentioned was that the Kavirajamarga
(ಕವಿರಾಜಮಾರ್ಗ), a classic Kannarese textbook on poetry written in the ninth century, by its very name alone attests to the influence of Sanskrit on the literature of the South Indian languages. The name is transparent to almost anyone with a knowledge of the Sanskrit vocabulary in Indonesian tongues, as it plainly says 'methodology of the princes of poets', or 'royal poetry path'. In other words, the way or praxis of writing splendid verse.
Kavi: Poetry, poetic language. Raja: Prince or king. Marga: Path, way.
Every term is Sanskrit.
I need to check Amazon to see if a translation is available.
Or perhaps a commentarial excursus.
It looks intriguing.
The Benton pipe enters into all of this about halfway through yesterday evening's tech support session. Hands must do something, and the tray of pipes is positioned close to the computer. I ended up smelling the pipe, which has a fragrance richly evocative of sunlight days of pleasure, comfort during wintry downpours, and any number of fine memory associations.
I fondled it, and sniffed deeply.
I cannot smoke in the apartment in the evening, even when my apartment mate is not around, as she is decidedly not a fan of tobacco.
So I merely enjoyed the echoed aromas of the past.
This morning, before even starting to finish-up on getting AVG to work again, I firmly shut my apartment mate's bedroom door and opened all the windows.
Then I studied Sreedevi's instructions sent in response to my screeching on the AVG Facebook page. Followed these, ran tests afterwards, confirmed that indeed AVG is now working again.
Filled the Benton pipe with one of the Virginia mixtures of my own devizing (this one is approximately fifty percent medium flake, with slightly over fifteen percent air-cured leaf), and lit up.
Altogether, for the entire excercise: three cups of hot chai yesterday evening, two cups of coffee this morning, one bowlful of fine tobacco, and five hours worth of computerized frustration.
Shan't mention the whiskey in between then and now.
AVG and iYogi are fine companies.
And have very good people.
Keep that in mind.
IF I were in a position to give a teenage boy a stern lecture about good habits versus bad practices, it would mostly include admonitions to avoid internet pornography because that buggers up your computer, learn how to make chai as well as cook with strong flavours -- good for the mind and body -- and at all times avoid cheap drugstore tobaccos, especially aromatics. Flavoured tobacco is a mark of depravity.
If you cannot avoid nasty internet sites, at least smoke good leaf.
Old fashioned mixtures, with honest Virginias.
And keep your pipes clean.
Oh, and eat mooncakes from Wing Wah
They produce a splendid product.
By the way: spellcheck does NOT like this post.
There are highlights and underlines everywhere.
Which is very peculiar; it's written in English!
Spellcheck is probably an illiterate savage.
There are five places I really must visit in India: Delhi, Bombay, Lucknow, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. The first four because of the food, and perhaps the architecture. The last because it is filled with very intelligent people. Oh, and the food is also worth exploring.
Udupi restaurants, among other things.
But mostly, intelligent people.
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