Elsewhere in the city, I was busy doing the rounds of my 5 installations, each in different stages of readiness, some where the air conditioning was not installed to some where the printers supplied were the wrong sort. Of the 5 only one of the computers, or as they were called to circumvent union rules, Electronic Accounting Machines, was booted up. I rented a 3-wheel autorickshaw by the day and spent all day cycling between the 5 bank branches in a mad frenzy of instructions for electricians, air conditiong technicians, carpenters and checking up on progress. I was supposed to configure software and train operators in their use, but the lack of readiness had converted me into an installation project manager.
A frustrating task made more so by the thought of the huge beast I knew was being brought to life 20 kms away. I was determined to head on over to see it once the various technicians had given up their feeble attempts for the day.
It was around 5:30 pm when I got to the Brahmaputra River Valley Board installation, unaware of the situation. Since that first odd, imprecise result, Deb had created a small program that computed millions of iterations of this simple addition and also included similarly subtraction, division and multiplication. The system was generally correct except for the odd .995 at irregular intervals. Mr Deka was not given to chewing his nails, but if he had had no nails left by 5pm, one would have had to forgive him. The impact of such imprecision was huge for an organization charged with predicting future river tracks and reducing the likelihood of loss of life and property.
I was met at the door by Mr Deka, who, under the impression that I was the master magician being brought in to solve the problem, welcomed me with a hug and walked me into the computer room, beaming with delight, for now he felt his worries were over. “Mr Sharma is here!” he announced to the non-plussed Deb.
Deb, a tough and talented software engineer, had been the one who had interviewed me when I first walked in to the computer company’s office as a confident-bordering-on-arrogant software programmer. He had forgotten more about the systems that the company made than I was ever to know. He was dumbfounded by Mr Deka’s reception of my visit, but managed to let Mr Deka know about my lowly status without insulting me in any way.
Mr Deka’s hopes now well and truly dashed, he decided to go home for antacid and dinner.
< to be continued>