Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reno Nightmare

Yesterday’s problems continued into the early evening when the Reno office called. Yes, the contagion hit Nevada, too. But it was not as bad as I thought. In fact it was a self-inflicted wound as the user locked themselves out of their account by signing in with a wrong password too many times. But the damage was done. The call came in while I was driving home and from the time it took me to reach home, set up my computer and called the help desk to check and unlock the Reno account, was just too long for the users to wait. By the time I got everything ready and called the Reno office, the users had reversed their work and created a new transaction. Possibly about 30 to 45 minutes have elapsed from the first instance that they could not log in. It was not a good day as they wasted a lot of time due to the network delay that hit all the users. Nevertheless, the Reno folks could do their work despite the irritation unlike the other warehouse near head office where nothing could be done without our intervention.

The big honcho in Reno made his usual love letters – thinly disguised contempt in email reports to the gods here in head office. But it was courteous as one sees there is no turning back to the old system. I read thru one of his mail yesterday evening and preferred to read the other one the next day. I knew what it contained which was the day’s misadventure. It was a good thing I prepared my usual cocktail of orange juice and vodka while I worked on the Reno problem. It was a combination of technical and interpersonal skills that saved the day. Musing over the remains of the day, I called my friend - the support staff but he did not have time to chat. He was having supper and one guesses that the day troubles had tired him out. After the episode with Reno, I had supper myself while watching a DVD.  I finished an Italian classic film by Roberto Rossellini called ‘General Del Rovere’ and a Russian film called ‘Nostalghia’ made by the acclaimed director of ‘Stalker’ – I film I liked due to the visual artistry that evoked surreal scenes of a nuclear incident.

But I did not pay too much attention on these films which were actually boring despite their reputation in art house circles. I was surfing the internet, updating my blog while watching the movies. In a previous life, I would have enjoyed these ‘art’ films but now seems a waste of time. I still enjoy Japanese films especially the classic samurai films but anything contemporary will do. I particularly liked the Japanese contemporary comedy ‘Shall We Dance?’ which I watched last weekend.  These films are the remaining link to my life in Asia.  Food is another memory. I plan to make sushi this weekend having bought the ingredients the other day. Last weekend was Thai salad and Japanese sake (but made in California). The sake was quite good, close to the real taste. The film ‘Nostalghia’ was about a Russian poet exiled in Italy. The poet could not get the Russian country side out of his mind. Similarly, I have begun to think of my past life, my trips to Thailand and Japan and my life in Singapore, eating good food and watching classic movies. Now only the classic movies remain, easily borrowed from the public libraries.

Now the Asian food is all gone but one can still try to make them but without the authenticity, taste and variety of the Singapore food stalls, without it’s sounds, smell, people and general atmosphere; the rain, heat and humid evenings of the tropics.  Today I tried to search for old friends in the company Intranet, to find out what has happened to them. Some have remained in Singapore while others have scattered the earth. Some have moved to India, Dubai, Philippines and Australia. One does not realize the loss immediately, only during times of alienation and solitude. My recent project and subsequent problems have kept me busy and focused on the issues. But despite being able to solve the problems, there is an emptiness that one feels as one cannot share the exhilaration of the challenge with a fellow Asian. One must keep busy in order to survive the loss. I guess it is the same thing that my family feels being jointly uprooted from the past.

There is still free time, a lot of it when compared to Asia. But one fills the time with books, movies, magazines, travel and new experiences. But now is the time to be still and centered so one can finally write. There is always the urge to fill up the space when it’s free; when the best solution is to be comfortable in that space. Space meaning silence, inactivity and solitude. But it is not emptiness as the thought of emptiness is man-made. Being comfortable in emptiness will result in creativity and freedom. Perhaps that’s the environment needed by the mind to write and be creative. Mental churning stops and silence reigns. But the mind is addicted, to activity and stimulation, so one succumbs to insomnia, intoxication, self-abuse and mindless activities in the guise of enjoyment. It’s a trap that one can only escape by recognizing the addiction. Strangely, it’s a strength recognized by books as having an open mind, free to accept unlimited input and stimulation.  But awareness is a start and maybe combined with activities like Yoga and meditation. Now that’s a plan.

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