Sunday, February 10, 2002

How I got online in Fredericton

This is the first full weekend that I am spending in Fredericton, and today I had the chance to experience the city a little bit more. I am staying at the Fredericton Inn, which is adjacent to the Regent Mall, which is on Regent Street.

Regent Mall has two big anchor stores - a WalMart, and a Sears. Fredericton is a place where almost everything remains closed on Sundays, with the exception of traffic lights and the pharmacies. Fredericton is the first place in North America that I have seen where the Walmart closes on Sundays, and on the remaining days closes at 10PM. Even in Waukesha (try and locate that place on a map) the Walmart remains open till midnight, every single day. And this nugget is for Indians - I saw a Bata store in Regent Mall!!! The first Bata store in North America I have come across! Can you imagine a more heartachingly lachrymose reminder of India? Bata - where almost everyone of us has bought his/her school shoes, the canvas shoes for sports day, the black shoes for the other days, the socks, the shoe horns, sigh! I wanted to go in the store, hug the store clerks (mostly young and very pretty Canadian girls), fall down on the floor weeping and walk out with a pair of shoes or two in my hand. I wisely desisted from this temptation because firstly I have to be in this town for at least another couple of months, secondly this is one of the few malls in Fredericton and I like malling on weekends, and thirdly I am perhaps the first Indian a lot of Frederictonites have ever seen in their lifetimes (Mowgli doesn't count) and I didn't want to go and ruin any chance there might still be of those people forming a good impression of Indians (Bay area residents think Lakireddy).

I digress. The main reason I was in the mall was to locate the local telephone company's store, where I wanted to sign up for internet access. See, mind-numbingly mystifying as it may seem to most of us in the technology profession, the New Brunswick Telcom company (that is also the largest provider of dial-up internet service here in the province) is helpful enough to provide a list of plans, dial-up numbers, and store locations on their web site, it does not however provide you with the option of signing up online. So I went to this store, and the lady asked me for a contact number, driver's license (don't ask me why, neither did I - word can spread that there is this difficult Indian in town), an address, and a credit card. She then gave me a CD (like the AOL CD) and sent me on my way. Like a puppy who has just received its first bone, I scampered back to the hotel, all awash with excitement and trembling with the anticipation of finally being able to go online at the hotel, started up the computer, inserted the CD, and waited. And waited. Till I realized that the CD software worked with Windows 95, 98, ME, XP - but not Windows 2000, that I have on my computer. This was a major letdown. Big letdown. HUGE letdown. Back to square one. That's where I was. And my detestation of this place had just gone up by a few more notches. I solved the connection problem anyway, the next day. There is another company that provides internet access - Brunnet. This company also has a web site, but again (maybe this is a cultural thing) no dial-up numbers or any other way to sign up online. Just a local number for me to call. Which I did. And the gentleman at the other end of the line asked me for a credit card, a sign up user id, and a password (and what kind of a sick person would I be, to not want to give out my dial up password to this nice gentleman. Huh? What do I have to hide?!!), and he gave me a dial up number to dial. Yup. One number, no more no less. With the promise that this number would work, most of the time. This time I was lucky - setting up a new dial up connection in Windows 2000 took about a minute, setting it up to dial from the hotel took another minute. And I dialed.

And it worked! It worked!!!!!!! And this is how I got online in Canada.
More later, to follow!

© 2002, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Posted to this blog June 2013