Friday, February 04, 2005

no communication, no news of situation in press

So the King threw out the government and cut all phone lines on Tuesday. It's Friday, and we still have no communication. I considered writing a blog post last night - to no one in particular since I'm offline, but I think such a post would have just said "everything's the same as it was on Tuesday". I'm sure my parents are worried about me. I would call to say I'm fine, but I can't. For the record, I should note that I believe I'm in no more personal danger now than I've ever been here (which is less danger than assumed on a night out drinking back home).

The last two nights, the king's allowed the phones to come online for an hour in the evening. 'So why haven't you called your parents or emailed them then?' you may ask. Well, even though the phones come up, the internet service providers stay off. So no email. I can't say whether international phone calls are possible or not, because the system's always busy when you try to dial internationally. Either everyone else is trying to make international phone calls during that one-hour window each night, or only domestic calls are possible. If I was with the UN or an INGO, I could probably swing a couple minutes on a satellite phone. I hear they have those kind of things. The rumor is that the land-line phones will come back 100 hours after the king threw out the government and cut communication - that would be in the morning if it's true, but who says it is true? That same word on the street says cell phones will stay off for a month - I guess cell phones are considered more a tool of political dissidents than are land lines.

The last couple of days have been pretty normal - routine wise - except for there being no phones or internet access. My bosses left the country on Monday for America. They're going to see their grandchildren and the rest of the family for a month. Did I mention the international airport's been closed since Tuesday as well (it may have opened today, I haven't checked)? So they got out in the knickerbockers of time. The boss's parting words upon leaving was that he wanted the pedal generator and white-LED lighting system to really move along, so now I'm on that in addition to Ewan. Building these circuits is pretty rewarding, you know - making them robust. The good electronics store in Kathmandu is open, and the guy who works there speaks English very well (and also Russian, oddly). So I've been doing that at work: building circuits in the garage, collaborating with Ewan, running some numbers, and repeating. It's good.

The newspapers don't have anything to say about the current political situation. I hear a number of television stations have been cut in the last two days, as have the Nepali-language radio news stations. They've left the music stations on, including the grating Hindi music and ubiquitous station named "Hits FM". I've been listening to the Nepali BBC for news. The word on the street was that it got taken off of FM for a while yesterday, but it worked tonight. Even if it's taken off of FM, it's still there on shortwave - I think that may come in from India. Listening to shortwave is an exercise in walking around looking for place where you can get the signal, and then gyrating the antenna while fiddling with the tuner. I need to look more into how shortwave works, but it seems to go a very, very long distance. I picked up a station in Russian on Wednesday - I assume that's coming from one of the stans.

I think this political situation is going to make me miss calling Margaret Mason on her twenty-first birthday, which is tomorrow. Even if the phones come back, the phone call's a no-go. The only place I have the phone number stored is in a message on gmail. This is a downside of centralized data storage - no provisions for the loss of infrastructure.


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