Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled’ Well Mr Frost, me and you have something in common after all. For me and Mikey must be a part of that exclusive bunch that drives via the heart of the Punjab on our way from Dharamsala to Delhi. Us and all the other suckers that were rerouted by their GPS. Regardless we still made it to Delhi, all be it a few hours late. The following day we set of for Nainital in south
Uttarakhand. Someone recently told me that the National Highways authority had implemented a four-lane, neatly tarmac-ed highways across India. Cleary they had forgotten about India’s most populated state, Uttar Pradesh. Though the money probably went to more important social issues…
The next day was spent driving to significant altitudes overlooking the valley; the principle was to see what the antenna would be able to see. How could we connect their signals to each other?
We had marked out all the places we wanted to examine. Once at the site the team used their instinct to counter all factors that could disrupt the signal. Then we would look to one of the points surrounding the valley which we had previously researched, ‘lets check it out’ and no matter how far, we would always ‘check it out’. By this I figured we would drive, get out of the car and walk the few metres to the mountain edge overlooking the valley. Though I should have guessed that rural Indian roads don’t exactly take you to ideal signal locations. Hence we climbed buildings, grappled through forests and, well yes, a couple were just a few metres away from the road side. In order to know for sure whether the antenna receivers would connect, we needed to take down the longitude and latitude and then match the two locations on Radio Mobile, a program used to predict the quality of planned radio links.
The experience helped me wrap my head around how AirJaldi manage to work from the ground up. How the team is everything, essentially setting up a network means building the structure. Every area is different, with different factors. In order to control all the aspects of a network, everyone needs to be creative. At AirJaldi the fieldworkers are the innovators and the strategists are laborers. Internet isn’t about individuality.
Unfortunately sometimes being rural comes at a cost, sometimes lack of TV can be very painful. As it was for me and Mikey, both ardent Arsenal fans, who missed our team's incredible victory over Barcelona, the best club side in the world. Instead we the 5 of us sat round a small heater( it was very cold, no one told me Nainital was a hill station) watching one abstract S Korean movie about North Koreans guards yearning to listen to the World Cup. No access to TV, basically the same as getting hanged for listening to world cup. Right? Well it kind of felt like it. Though news of victory brightened my spirits considerably.
In many ways the A’s of AirJaldi are similar to that of the A’s of Arsenal. We may not have money that we can chuck around on expensive experiments, experienced players, or mass recognition across our internet/football medium of communication. Yet, through our team mould, never-say-die attitude, and counterattacking spirit, we can still beat the Barcelona’s and B’s of the internet world at what is now called their game, though we like to think that we had a lot to do with its new-found success.