Flawed Nutcracker

— Ashesh Maharjan


Here is one good way to get an internet connection.  You go to the internet head office once a day for a week or two just to get them ready to set up a router or switch or what ever so. They agree to install not because they think they should, but because you don’t seem to give up trying and they are sick of seeing your face on a regular basis. Then you wait for a month without any signs of connection. (That’s the length of time between two full moons.) The cause? Only god knows. In fact you don’t wait. You call the office every single day for twenty days and technicians come every other day to take an endeavor to make it work. Each time they come, they have an excuse for failure. Someday they don’t have a clamper (an instrument used to staple the head of a RJ-45 cable, which looks like a nutcracker), other days they don’t bring a ladder or they simply can’t tell where the problem is.

After twenty days of futile effort, they decide that they are a little more than dubious about the 83 meters of ethernet cable which connects the switch on the electricity pole to your computer. Which means, an extra charge of Rs.83X20 if you had paid for this faulty cable, fortunately you hadn’t. You had decided not to pay a dime until you are assured of the connectivity, which was an apt thing to do.

Now this is where things get really freaky. You call the office to say how peeved you feel at what is going on. And instead of being sorry, the man on the other side literally yells at you for not paying the dues. He wants you to pay rite away if you want the cable replaced. But he wouldn’t say anything more than ‘it seems to be the only problem, can’t you see?’ when you ask if he was certain that the new cable will work. You hang up confused and enraged.

After ten days or so when you call the office to check if anything was going on, they send the same old fellows over. This time it takes them no more than a few minutes to fix up the connection. Flabbergasted by what you’ve witnessed, you ask the man to explain. And all he says is ‘It was the damn clamper. We were using a shitty clamper last month.’ Then you forgive them for wasting your month, for not treating you well enough, for being careless, for wasting your telephone calls, for still not being sorry. Finally, you hope that your little tale ends up happy. But you are still disgruntled, for the speed of internet connection you get can only be called glacial. You have already paid and you are helpless now.

Well, I’m confident that by now you have learnt that this is not a good way to get an internet connection. Now, the part that you might not know is that this is an anecdote of mine, which I thought deserves to be written. So, all the ‘you’ in the story are in fact ‘me’. And the moral of the story? It is that the thing that looks like a nutcracker is actually a clamper, and it can sometimes be a pain in the neck. And that ‘sometimes’ is more frequent than we imagine.


A Salute to the Artist of Life


— Resika K.C.

It was her eyes; the eyes shimmering like a pure dew in the dawn, like a precious diamond on a golden ring, like a pearl in the ocean, the eyes that were seeking for something priceless ‘a thirst deep inside to be quenched; a thirst for an art, the masterpiece that she could solely own and be proud of, a beautiful dream to be accomplished. It made her desperate, desperate enough to do anything for it. She slowly drew an outline of a dream: the creation she dreamt of. Her glowing eyes portrayed that she knew what she has to do further. With long deep breath of satisfaction; she further brought all the pieces together to arrange them so that they can fit the outline.

As one piece added up another, the glow in her eyes raised up. No power could stop her from making it. She gave her art a shape; she caressed it with her soft, gentle touch, her smile and purity added upon its beauty. She wanted her art to resemble her: but yet be unique. As she got the figure she wanted, she gave a wide smile. Then she swiftly moved towards the boxes of emotions that she treasured for her masterpiece. One by one she opened the boxes and poured it in her art. Happiness, sorrows, sadness, excitement, pain, affection, anger, hatred, kindness, greed, and so on, till she opened the final box; golden box of love that ruled over all the other emotions, within a pint of time, her art glowed magnificently with the essence of love.

Yes, this was it; this was her masterpiece, her art, everything that she owed. But why does she not feel the stream of happiness. She should have been the one who is the proudest and happiest; she wanted to, but couldn’t. The art was not complete, she did everything she could, but yet the art was incomplete. This made her more desperate, she flew round and round, she went up the stairs then down the corridor.’¦’¦’¦’¦.. No answer; no solution ‘¦’¦’¦’¦’¦’¦’¦ she couldn’t figure out what she missed. With pain she gasped- ‘I failed’¦’¦’¦’¦’¦’¦..’ Her eyes were low with ocean of sadness flowing over; she couldn’t bear that she failed.

The sky went dark, the clouds were sad, the sun didn’t smile, the thunder roared as her tears fall apart. The birds didn’t sing, the trees didn’t move, the rivers didn’t feel like flowing, the wind cried in pain as well.

Suddenly, it twinkled; her heart twinkled with all possible shine. ‘That’s it, that’s what I have missed’ was all she said. With glowing eyes and magical smile, she moved towards the art. With a knife in her hand, she tore her chest and cut a portion of her heart- ‘The Golden Heart’. The sky, the clouds, the sun, the thunder birds, the tree, the river the wind everyone screamed feeling the pain that she had, extreme and unbearable pain. But this didn’t affect her magical smile, it grew wider, the pain satisfied her, it made her happier. As she added the portion her golden heart in her art, it gave her a glistering smile and uttered- ‘MOTHER ‘she collapsed as she couldn’t hold the burden of pain and happiness mixed up in her heart. All that she could say was ”human-my child-human’.

Finally, she created her masterpiece-‘Human’. Even today when her art is destroyed, her heart pains she cries in pain. She comes to hold her art, her creation, her child, as this is everything for her. At times, she travels around to spread her magical smile and few times gets angry as her children don’t respect her. If you see her anywhere around tell her that I with all my heart salute her-‘the nature’: the ‘Mother Nature’; the artist who created life.


Why Linux?


— Chandan P. Gupta

A couple of years ago, the Linux desktop was a pimply adolescent with half-baked ideas. Today we see a handsome, well-dressed grown-up who handles a range of tasks with confidence and even performs fancy tricks. No longer need we make allowances for his dress sense or his strange habits. The timing couldn’t be better. Vista is a Wagner Opera that is usually late to start, takes too long to finish, and is spoilt by floorboards creaking under the weight of the cast. Mac OS X Leopard, meanwhile, is the late show in an exclusive nightclub where the drinks are always too expensive. In contrast, the Linux desktop is the free show in the park across the street — it imposes some discomforts on the audience, but provides plenty of entertainment.

The first challenge is getting hold of tickets, since you can’t just choose your new PC and then tick the Linux box in the list of software options. The good news is that installing Linux is no longer a challenge that rivals splitting the atom. With a handful of mature distributions designed for simple users, the benefits Linux offers are much easier to verify.

And there are plenty:

Cost — Linux is free, and that includes all the apps. Microsoft is greedy. Vista Home Premium and Ultimate cost hundreds of dollars, even when upgrading from Windows XP. Moving up to Office 2007 involves handing over another bundle of dollars.

Resources — Even the most lavishly equipped Linux distros demand no more resources than Windows XP. Vista is greedy: a single-user PC operating system that needs 2GB of RAM to run at acceptable speed, and 15GB of hard disk space, is grossly obese.

Performance — Linux worked faster on my Dell Inspiron Core Duo than XP, at least the way XP worked out of the box. After cleaning out the bloatware and trading McAfee’s Abrams Tank for the lightweight NOD32, XP and Linux (with Guarddog and Clam-AV) perform at similar speed.

No bloatware — Linux is free from adware, trialware, shovelware, and bloatware. Running Linux is like watching the public TV network.

Security — Last year, 48,000 new virus signatures were documented for Windows, compared to 40 for Linux. Still, most distros come with firewalls and antivirus (AV) software. Programs like Guarddog and Clam-AV are free, of course.

Dual booting — The best Linux distros make dual booting a simple affair, along with the required disk partitioning (so you don’t need to buy partitioning software). Windows on my Dell laptop is still intact after installing and uninstalling a dozen distros.

Installation — Anyone who’s done it once knows that installing Windows from scratch takes hours or even days by the time you get all your apps up and running. With Linux, it can take as little as half an hour to install the operating system, utilities, and a full set of applications. No registration or activation is required, no paperwork, and no excruciating pack drill.

Reinstalling the OS — You can’t just download an updated version of Windows. You have to use the CD that came with your PC and download all the patches Microsoft has issued since the CD was made. With Linux, you simply download the latest version of your distro (no questions asked) and, assuming your data files live in a separate disk partition, there’s no need to reinstall them. You only need to reinstall the extra programs you added to the ones that came with the distro.

Keeping track of software — Like most Windows users, I have a shelf full of software CDs and keep a little book with serial numbers under my bed in case I have to reinstall the lot. With Linux, there are no serial numbers or passwords to lose or worry about. Not a single one.

Updating software — Linux updates all the software on your system whenever updates are available online, including all applications programs. Microsoft does that for Windows software but you have to update each program you’ve added from other sources. That’s about 60 on each of my PCs. More icing on the Linux cake is that it doesn’t ask you to reboot after updates. XP nags you every ten minutes until you curse and reboot your machine. If you choose ‘custom install’ to select only the updates you want, XP hounds you like a mangy neighborhood dog until you give in.

More security — These days, operating systems are less vulnerable than the applications that run on them. Therefore a vital aspect of PC security is keeping your apps up-to-date with the latest security patches. That’s hard manual labor in Windows, but with Linux it’s automatic.

No need to defrag disks — Linux uses different file systems that don’t need defragging. NTFS was going to be replaced in Vista, but Microsoft’s new file system didn’t make the final cut. Instead, Vista does scheduled disk defragging by default, but the defrag utility is a
sad affair.

A wealth of built-in utilities — The utilities supplied with Windows are pretty ordinary on the whole, that’s why so many small software firms have made a nice living writing better ones. Linux programs are comparable with the best Windows freeware, from CD burners to photo managers, memory monitors and disk utilities. PDF conversion is built-in, both into OpenOffice Writer and into the DTP application Scribus. All you do is click a button on the task bar Well, thats pretty enough to make anybody understand why linux rocks. If you really want a real linux experience: try once, believe me you are gonna forget things like windows. Linux recently celebrated its 20th birthday and has won over each and every field from mainframes to super computers and tablets to phones except desktops. Soon linux will be all around. Get yourself rocking, get linux!

Melba Devi Mahotsav

— Monisha Pradhan

The Melba Devi Mahotsav is the first of a series of musical initiatives that will emphasize the importance of the archival and documentation of the musical heritage of Nepal. With this motive The embassy of India and the BP Koirala Foundation in association with Kalakuti a nonprofit organization took initiative to introduce one of the pioneers of Nepalese musical industry, Melba Devi Gurung, Nepal’s first female recording artist.

Melba Devi born in the village in the remote part of eastern Nepal was admitted to Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher’s court as a trainee singer at the young age of five. She retired from court- singing at the age of 21 as she got married to a tabla player and moved to Kolkata. In 1928, she recorded her famous song ‘Sawari Mero Relaima’ which made her first Nepalses woman to record a song that set path for aspiring Nepalese female singers. She was a renowned singer, composer, lyricist and playwright. We lost such a great artist at the age of 55 in an accident.

To pay tribute to the singer’s life and times Kalakuti organized the two days program at the Army Officer’s Club on 11th and 12th of April 2011.The Mahotsav was inaugurated by His Excellency the Indian Ambassador to Nepal- Rakesh Sood. The first day program began with screening of 5- minute documentary about Melba Devi’s contribution to the Nepalese music industry. Gramophone era was revived when the first record of Melba Devi was played on an antique gramophone on stage. This program was continued by a lecture and performance by Vidya Shah, renowned Delhi based classical singer, composer, writer and music scholar titled ‘Women on Record’. Then there was a performance by Nepali and Indian artists. DAFA Band opened the evening’s performances with ‘Raag Kedar’ which was dedicated to Melba Devi. This is a classical music band that was established in 2000 A.D. with the motivation to promote a classical music. The group consist Rabin Lal Shrestha, Prabhu Raj Dhakal and Suresh Raj Bajracharya. Then, Hari Maharjan Duo- Hari Maharjan and Sujan Lama covered Melba’s song ‘Auna Basha Piyari’ in Gypsy Jaaz style. Without losing the true essence of the song they blended well the melody of the old era and the jazz.

The second day took place at Yala Maya Kendra, Patan and featured a series of panel discussions on women burn victims- Melba Devi was also the victim of the tragic burn. Senior journalist Kanak Mani Dixit and Dr. KD Joshi of Bir Hospital conducted the discussions.The discussion was continued by legendary Nepalese classical singers Jagat Mardan Thapa, Prabhu Raj Dhakal, Situ Kharel and sound engineers Pradeep Upadhyaya and Sunit Ratna Kansakar on Melba Devi’s life, music, times and her contemporaries, change of playback technology.

The Mahotsav concluded with a certificate of appreciation given to all the panelists by senior musician Dambar Ghandarva and a performance to pay tribute to Melba Devi sarangi player Barta Gandharva, her niece Laxmi Gandharva and her father Dambar Gandharva from Bhojpur  along with Binod Gaunle and floutist Umesh Pandit played on ‘Thapa Ra Thali’.

This event was a great example that showed there are many such artists who have contributed to the Nepalese musical industry and are not yet recognized.