As you approach nearer to Zhangjiang metro station, you find few irksome and annoying men trying to impudently sell stuff, everybody uttering the same punch line in a typical Chinese accent "Computer Laptop IBM Toshiba - lukku lukku, vely guddu". Finally devoured by curiosity we planned to give it a shot. One fine afternoon instead of ignoring them, as we used to do everyday, we inquired about it with one of them. With his beaming countenance he asked us to follow him and he guided us to the second floor of KFC. His demeanor gave us a feeling that it was a stolen laptop, but what the..., we are in China and all we need is a laptop for cheaper price, atoning for stealing is his problem. This demeanor is actually a selling point for them.
He pulled out the laptop from a transparent cover with patches of girlish stickers here and there which clears our doubt about the laptop being stolen. After a quick adjustment of battery the laptop is powered on. It was a Toshiba laptop, very handy and light, Intel Centrino logo on the left of touch pad, Microsoft Windows XP logo on the right, a barcode on the bottom right of the screen. The flash screen "glorious" Microsoft XP shows up and quickly a desktop cluttered with icons with Chinese text appeared. He conveyed that the OS is Chinese and we did not really give a damn about it. He handed over the laptop for scrutiny and naturally first thing I did was checking the configuration. An unspeakably alluring and satisfying configuration I must say...Intel Centrino Mobile over 1G CPU speed, half a gig RAM, 40 gig hard-disk, some damn video card, a DVD drive...everything after a quick bargain settled for a grand of renminbi. Who on earth wouldn’t need such a thing, Siva was on his toes and I gave my consent about the configuration. The peddler was a bit too unhappy about the deal, when we were about to leave, he signalled that he needed money to eat. Gracious and generous Siva pulled out a note of hundred and handed over.
He could not do anything with that laptop for a couple of weeks till I got him an English version of Windows 2000 Professional edition, duly copied and copyrighted by the Xangyang lu Softwares, a sister concern of Microsoft and other software companies. Me being an OS installation expert I advised Siva that we’d copy the CD contents onto the hard-drive for faster installation. The most widely used windows command ctrl+c and ctrl+v resulted in an error "Insufficient disk space", what the..., the logical partition onto which I was copying was a huge 20G with no other data. A glimmer of suspicion struck me and I went to command prompt and executed the good old "dir" command and my suspicions were confirmed. The actual size of the logical partition was a disheartening 4 MB. When I used the same command on the primary partition, it was more disheartening, the 40 gig hard-disk all of a sudden shrunk to 1G. For some reason I was unable to enter BIOS, I continued installation from CD and realized that the memory was a meager 32MB, and worst of all the Intel Centrino processor transmogrified into an Intel XT 80* series, older in age than Siva or me. We started the installation late in the evening and the progress bar was snail-pacing at 50% the next afternoon. I was very much saddened about it, but Siva, despite losing money somehow took it quite sportively.
I was surprised, I must confess, by the skills of the peddlers or whoever it is, the theme they used to deceive us was extremely infallible. The system was running on a Windows 98 with a foolproof XP theme. These laptops are not stolen from anywhere, but they are refurbished in a certain junkyard. This happened almost an year ago, even now, in this biting cold winter, the IBM and Toshiba sales persons keep rambling about Zhangjiang station, bothering us with the same impudent trick and hackneyed punch-line.