Wednesday: arrive in Kolkata. Everything is great…until that evening, when working on the computer, we suddenly experience for the first time the “rainbow screen of death”, where the screen fills with rainbow static and then the whole computer dies and cannot be restarted. Use the phone to find the Toshiba service centre.
Thursday: Reuben visits the Toshiba centre. Getting there takes approximately an hour – first he walks to the metro, then he takes the metro three stations, then he walks for another half hour. At the Toshiba centre, they take the computer and tell him they will call in a couple of days. He travels back, taking another hour or so.
Friday: No contact from the centre. Reuben calls a couple of times – no answer.
Monday: No contact from the centre. Reuben calls twelve times – no answer. Reuben visits the Toshiba centre. Getting there takes approximately an hour – first he walks to the metro, then he takes the metro three stations, then he takes a bus. At the Toshiba centre, they tell him it is in the queue and they will call him. He mentions that they don’t seem to answer their phone. They laugh at him. He travels back, taking a bus and asking the bus driver to tell him where to get off. Something goes wrong, and he ends up at the railway station at the other end of town. He takes a boat back. It takes more than two hours to get back.
Tuesday: Reuben visits the Toshiba centre. Getting there takes approximately an hour – first he walks to the metro, then he takes the metro three stations, then he takes a bus. At the Toshiba centre, they call him as he is about to enter and tell him the computer is fixed. He is presented with a NZD $100 charge. He travels back, taking another hour. In joy he uses the computer throughout the day.
Wednesday: Karen sits down to use the computer. For the second time comes the rainbow screen of death. Reuben visits the Toshiba centre. Getting there takes approximately an hour – first he walks to the metro, then he takes the metro three stations, then he takes a bus. At the Toshiba centre, they tell him the problem is a loose RAM and fix it. He travels back, taking another hour. Karen opens up the computer upon his return. For the third time comes the rainbow screen of death. Reuben visits the Toshiba centre. Getting there takes approximately an hour – first he walks to the metro, then he takes the metro three stations, then he takes a taxi to make sure he gets there before closing. At the Toshiba centre, they tell him that the computer needs a new motherboard and will continue to break. A motherboard will cost NZD $1000. He travels back, taking another hour. We realise that our computer is six months out of warranty.
Thursday: At night, our smartphone does an automatic update and gets stuck in a cycle of starting and restarting.
Friday: After trying everything, Reuben restores the original factory settings. When we restart the phone it will no longer find our Vodafone simcard.
Saturday: We visit Vodafone. After an hour with a service person, we determine that the simcard is working fine. They suggest we visit Samsung, conveniently located upstairs. We visit Samsung. They refuse to look at the phone as it was not purchased in India. (Actually, they tell Reuben as they have a confusing rule that only one person may enter the office with each phone). I swear. We take a metro to the technology market, where we price new computers, then take a metro back. While there, I speak to someone in the Samsung store. They tell me the problem is we are inside a building – this is not helpful. We take a metro back to where we are staying. Reuben spends hours researching what has happened to the phone and trying to fix it. Eventually we determine that the IMEI number has corrupted itself. We begin to get emails from people who can’t get hold of us on our phone.
Sunday: We take a metro to the technology market. We visit the Samsung store. They suggest we visit the Samsung service centre and tell us the problem cannot be fixed. We consult another store. They tell us that the problem cannot be fixed, then tell us to try a different store. We consult another store and they direct us to a store that can help. That store is closed on Sundays, naturally. We leave the technology market and find a cellphone repair store. They tell us they can repair the phone, but when they start making calls to find out how to do so and pushing random buttons hopefully we decide it is time to go to lunch. We order a new computer online to be delivered to our friend in Deharadun.
Monday: Reuben visits Samsung. They tell him that even though we are willing to pay, they will not look at our computer. Reuben visits the shop we were told to visit on Sunday, and they are open and will look at the phone. Reuben visits Toshiba and waits a long time to get a letter from them detailing that the computer is not working. Reuben returns to Freeset. Reuben goes back to collect the phone and returns with a working phone!!!!! We have lost all our photos, budgeting information and other information stored on the phone…but we have a working phone again.
In all seriousness, this has been a rough week. We had really hoped to be able to do more in Kolkata – to have more time to be tourists, to volunteer at Mother Teresa, to be able to do more IT work to help out at Freeset, and plan our upcoming travel to Rajastan and Sri Lanka and we feel like we have wasted lots of time (as you can see from above, everything takes forever here). We are really fortunate to still have a tablet to use, but it isn’t possible to blog on or for Reubs to do the work he needs to do for his freelancing. It has been incredibly frustrating to have spent so much time on technology, in a city that we are unfamiliar with and to encounter so many people who don’t really know how to fix the problems. We really rely on technology as we travel – we do everything on it from booking trains and accomodation through to blogging and freelance web design. It is disheartening to have an expensive computer break after only 18 months – we are hopeful that my mum might have some joy with getting it fixed under the Consumer Guarantees Act, but we will have to wait until we see her in September to send it home with her (or pay NZD $200 to get it shipped). Our phone is also 2 days out of warranty, but since we bought it in the USA after losing our first one, it wouldn’t have helped to be in warranty anywhere but in the USA.
It has been a real challenge to stay motivated for this part of our trip when everything seems to be going wrong at once, but we are also challenged by the daily struggles experienced by many people here, and humbled to realise that technology breaking is really a first world problem. We have been able to use the internet at Freeset and have had lovely supportive people around us, and we have been in one place for long enough to at least get the computer and phone looked at. In the middle of frustration, we choose to pause, be grateful and then keep journeying through the less fun parts of our adventure.
PS…a week later our phone broke again…Reubs took it to a service centre who couldn’t fix it, but through the magic of Google he was able to fix it himself. Sadly, he couldn’t fix a broken screen when we dropped it a few days after that…but it’s still going strong through the cracks!