Today I went on a wild goose chase to buy a PC for my 16-year-old cousin brother Jojo. The hunt began at Ernakulam and ended, panting and gasping for breath somehwere near Kottayam. My Uncle, Jojo’s Dad thought that this would be a good opportunity to learn something about computers, besides like vegetables he was convinced that he would get a better bargain at the next shop. Sometimes the next shop was the adjacent shop while most of the time the next shop was in the next town. The result was some delicious cuisines sampled at various hotels throughout the route but no PC.
Jojo is the youngest of seven children, his eldest sibling is married with kids. The generation gap between father and son was as wide as an Apple II and a MacBook Pro. (that’s many a generations even I know) And that’s why he cleverly managed to rope me in with some novel excuses like “Achchan is a fossil” and “Only you can talk some sense into Achchan’s brainless skull”. He loves his Dad so much you see. And the feeling is mutual.
First stop XYZ Electronics
Uncle to Salesman: We want to buy a computer.
Salesman: Would you like to go in for a Laptop or Desktop?
Uncle: Duh?...ahem you talk to my niece while I hmm...look around and don’t listen to anything my dimwit son says ok?!
Uncle: Keep quite.
I watched as my Uncle, his mundu folded up neatly, hands crossed behind him sauntered around. He reached a display of PCs. The salesman behind the counter wearing a mundu and a red Pottu must have looked quite reassuring to my Uncle.
Uncle: What is the difference between this kompooter and that?
Salesman: Intel and AMD Processors Saar.
Uncle( not understanding a word): Oh I see! And what’s the difference between what you just told me?
Salesman : Cost and speed is different saar. Besides a few other differences.
Uncle (persisting): Like what?
Salesman ( as though waiting for the cue ): Well...Intel recently switched over their motherboards from the RDR memory to the DDR memory, which AMD was utilizing. There are three reasons for the swtich blah blah blah blah. Anyone who knows computers will tell you: heat is your enemy. Heat kills processors, plain and simple. The Pentium IV processor has major heat dissipation problems blah blah blah. AMD runs cooler because it's FSB has always been a constant 266MHz, and does not cause problems with DDR memory. The AMD Athlon blah blah blah besides it is priced lower.
Uncle: I see.
He turned smartly before the Salesman could say “Cheque or Cash?” and walked into the Laptop section and peered at the display, soda glasses straddling his nose. He went around one a couple of time like I have seen him do with the cattle he intended to purchase. A smartly dressed salesman appeared next to him.
Salesman: Anything in particular you are looking for?
Uncle (Pointing to a Laptop): what is this thing?
Salesman: It is a Laptop Computer.
Uncle: What is the difference between this and that…‘kompooter’?
Salesman (showing off): Laptop and desktop computers are very similar. They have the same basic hardware, software and operating systems. The primary difference is how their components fit together. Its screen is an integrated part of the unit, as is its keyboard blah blah blah.Unlike Desktop it is much smaller and blah blah blah and it is portable.
Uncle: “Portable??????” What’s that?
Salesman: It can be carried around.
Salesman: (scenting a sale): Your son can easily move his Laptop from class to library to the caféteria. It also has DVD player so your son can watch movies too.
Uncle(incensed): Oh ho!!! No son of mine is watching movies in college when he should be studying!!
Salesman ( triumphant smile drying up fast): But... !!!
Jojo(in despair): Dad!!!!
Uncle: Keep quiet! ( turning to me )Let’s go to another shop and see if we can get something that will not corrupt this brainless fellow.
By evening, after going in and out of umpteen shops, my Uncle was elated with the knowledge he had gathered. Jojo and me were very tired and did not want to see a PC or Laptop for the rest of our lives. We also knew all there was to know about Monitors, Processors, Storage Devices, Sound, Graphics and Imaging and the number of Chai Kadaas on the highway and the differences in their tea/coffee brewing styles. And we were yet to buy a PC.
Me: Uncle, you better decide soon or we will have to take a room here. It is getting late.
Uncle: What a good idea!!! Tomorrow we can drive to Trivandrum I have heard you get better computer shops there!
We did finally pick up the PC from that first shop. My by-now-very-knowledgeable Uncle insisted on an AMD processor because...the salesman was so nice and had called him “saar”.