So if you get a virus when the internet at your guesthouse has suddenly cut out, with no explanation, and no notion of when it will be up again, and then you venture over to your trusted little computer store tucked away in Peliatan, you might find yourself squatting in their back room, where the four technicians are normally squirreled away for most of the day, unless (like today) three of them are out on ‘house calls’ and the fourth, who should have shown up at 9 is now not expected to arrive till one hour later, apparently because his motorbike broke down (one of many perfectly acceptable excuses for delay in Bali – along with a ceremony or funeral), so that you’re crouched down in that rabbit hole all by yourself, surrounded by towering shelving units, stacked up to the ceiling with ancient hard drives, outdated ink jet printers, keyboards now sprouting mold and crumpled pieces of paper where once there were number keys, faded but unopened cardboard boxes piled high, power bars, digital doodads, computer screens, all framed by the graying hospital green paint peeling off the walls, a pair of fluorescent green plastic stools, a poster advertising the ASUS brand – together with the requisite skimpily-clad model with windblown hair, barely still taped onto the wall, giving you that come hither look which I’m assuming is meant to be shorthand for buy me, and an empty cartridge holder now containing the remnants of several cigarette butts, poking out like a mini sculptural testament to the recycling possibilities of used computer parts.
A mid-size fan, designed for a desk, is instead mounted on the outer edge of the shelving unit, teetering precariously above your head, creaking as it turns its wiry face from one wall to the other, blowing the occasional poof of air across the top of your head.
You’d be right to expect, on an otherwise normal Monday morning, that the internet connection at this hole-in-the-wall shop would be up to par and foolproof (because, did I mention that it’s a dedicated computer repair shop, never mind that an internet tower of skyscraperian heights looms right across the street) but of course things are not as they should be, because internet connection in Bali is never ever guaranteed (never mind what others might make you believe) so much so that even a rain shower is a perfectly acceptable excuse for the internet to be down.
So you wonder what you’re supposed to do when you’ve miraculously succeeded to track down a live human being on the other end of the line, yes at the 1-800 number you dialed for technical support, and the internet is failing, and your pulsa (phone credit) is getting eaten away while you wait so patiently for the good angels of the internet to do their thing, and you realize that it’s a perfect opportunity to ask the very patient Jorge on the other end of the line, who has by the way, at this point already quite swiftly in the 2.5 seconds of internet connection that did work, managed to take over control of your computer remotely (which is just fine by you, because quite frankly with a virus of this magnitude, you want nothing more than to hand over ALL control of your laptop to anyone who might understand what needs to be done) and when you ask Jorge what the internet is like in his part of the world – oh, by the way, Jorge, where do you live? – and he replies that the internet connection in the Philippines is pretty good and reliable, but you hear a lilt in his voice, or is it a sigh of sympathy, because it’s entirely possible that word has already made its way to Manila, to his colleagues, that the internet in your particular pocket of Asia is not quite up to their speed, but he is kind enough not to snicker in your ear nor to question how long it might be before the internet is up again, so you continue with the chitchat, while you do double-duty asking Nengah when the internet might work again, and he flashes a big smile that needs no words and you plead with Jorge to stay on the line because lord knows how long it will take to get through technical support again if your call disconnects (which it finally does, but only because your cell phone has suddenly dropped on the ground, breaking apart, causing you very nearly to fall into panic mode, but Jorge saves the day by typing very quickly into the dialogue box (in the nano-second that the internet is back on) that you’ve not lost him which makes you breathe such a loud sigh of relief that a few other technicians saunter into their office that by now you have completely taken over, but they just smile and leave no doubt wondering when the tamu (foreign) woman who is squatting on the floor amidst a jungle of not-so-high-tech gadgets and gizmos will finally take her leave so they can get to work.
Eventually, as most things do, the internet is back on, Nengah cheers, Jorge does his thing on your laptop, which affords you some time to lean back and watch with awe (and total incomprehension) at the movement that swishes across your screen, message and folder boxes opening and closing, with the occasional question that Jorge types into the box awaiting your reply.
And all the time, you glance over at Nengah’s screen atop the table, cautiously waiting, praying, hoping that just this once, OM please shanti OM, the internet will stay afloat and that your man in Manila will shake out that virus, clean out your discs and your drives and turn out to be the blessed, unseen and unsung hero to avert further panic, sign off and save the day (and your data).