A Desert Experience – Jaisalmer & Khuri

I was lying on a thin mat and it was the only thing protecting me from the cold sand under it. I had two layers of blankets covering me, yet my body wouldn’t stop shivering. Not being used to not having walls surround my bed, my mind switched to “Stone-Age” mode of “fight or flight” and I was constantly on the look out for “predators” and other things that might pounce on me any minute. I barely slept a wink.

This was a night spent out on the Khuri sand dunes (Rajasthan), courtesy Badal Singh. Badal rents his place out for tourists and charges bare minimum for the arrangements. Badal is one of the few who believe money isn’t everything. He explained how he makes a good living with what he makes in rents and says he doesn’t need to charge more.

At his house, luxuries are minimum. Hot water buckets are arranged on request and on mercy of power gods (electricity department). Water is heated with coils dipped into buckets – they take a long time to do their job. There is no plumbing in most of the bathrooms so you’ll have to carry your own water. There are no sinks either, so brushing your teeth is awkwardly uncomfortable. There are no room heaters, so prepare to shiver if sitting in shade. Also prepare to shiver when having a bath because the bathroom has a window letting cold air in. Drinking water was provided from an earthen pot – the colony receives drinking water from the government once every few days. And then, I had no phone signal either. My phone was now rendered to being a torchlight.

All used vessels (I saw a huge pile) were washed with only a tub of water. Using more water would severely put them at risk of running out – water they store in a concrete tank built under their house.

Staying at Badal’s house made me realize just how many luxuries I was used to. Back at home, I have 24X7 running water for cleaning myself, for drinking and for everything else. I can have extremely hot water at the flick of a button, running water at the sink, backup power, and super fast Internet and instant communication.

Out here, I was stripped off these luxuries. I felt bare, but also relieved. With nothing to do, you start noticing everything else. I noticed how few clothes Badal and his family members owned. Those that they wore were obviously well worn and tears re-stitched. These were people that had to impress nobody – there were no bosses or colleagues, neither were there any Joneses to keep up with. Pots, pans and cups were of various sizes and shapes so I guessed they collected one here, one there, over the course of many years.

The little huts Badal built were made of a mixture of clay and cow dung, taking no more than a few weeks to build after foundation (of sandstones). They were nicely painted in white and red and looked beautiful inside out. Floors open to the sky were simply mud and cow-dung packed tightly. When I stepped on it barefoot, I realized that it was warm and welcoming unlike parts of the concrete floor that were still cold from last night’s chill. Wow!

Unable to bear the cold, I stepped out onto the terrace and out into the sun. I grabbed a blanket and lay out in the sun for an hour happily sunbathing, warming myself, and just casually gazing around doing nothing – just like the cows Badal owned. Why do human beings have to work?

Food served was basic and masalas were surely avoided. I had poha for breakfast with some really delicious ginger-tea served in a pot. Lunch comprised of bajra roti with dal, rice, and a simple cauliflower curry. Delicious!

Later that afternoon, we were hurried out to the desert on camels (We: there were others beside me and my wife that were staying with Badal) We were asked to bring our own water and nothing else. All arrangements were to be available at the site. It is not until you reach the desert that “arrangements” mean nothing but the availability of food and bedding. Back to the very basics.

It took us an hour to reach our site by camel on a ride that was mostly uncomfortable. Our site in the sand dunes was chosen such that it was low lying and behind shrubs – this was to avoid the chilly winds that were out there to freeze us. At the site, we walked around in the sand (still warm) and watched the sun set into the horizon. There was nothing around us for miles (as far as the eyes could see) but for sand and shrubs, shrubs and sand, in changing order. All we could hear was complete silence, occasionally penetrated by our own voices. Sound travels far when not impeded by obstacles.

We were served an early dinner.  Food was cooked over a wood fire and consisted of balls of atta, called “rota” – wheat flour baked directly in the fire, accompanied with dal and curry. The rotas had a beautiful outer crust that tasted great – I was never going to look at wheat flour the same way ever again. However, we soon realized that the sand just doesn’t finish getting into your shoes, and your shirt, it even gets into the food. There was a lot of sand we ate that night, but the taste of the food and our hunger made us ignore it.

Water is even more precious here, so bowls and pans aren’t “washed” anymore. They’re just wiped off clean with, umm, sand. After a round of generous wiping, our hosts ate their dinner in the same bowls.

Not long after we ate, the bedsheets were laid out and thick, heavy blankets handed out to all of us. We were shown our places and we had all the night to us, out in the open.

That night, I gazed for a long time at the beautiful bare sky. The moon was full and had lit up the desert well. Hundreds of stars twinkled at us, and we said hello for the first time in several years. Back in the city’s light-polluted skies, you barely get to see the moon. Here, we had a vast buffet of stars for our delight.

However, with the cold, and being out in the open, I barely slept at all. In the distance, I could hear a camel happily eating away at a large shrub all night, grinding its teeth against the hardened leaves.

Early next morning, we were woken up to the chirping of a few birds (that braved the cold) and the sun slowly rising above the dunes. There were no bathrooms obviously, so we had to make do with doing “it” in the open. It was an uncomfortable experience, given we had lived all our lives s(h)itting inside four walls. It was still horribly cold and my hands froze as I tried to brush my teeth with a bottle of water.

Meanwhile, breakfast was being prepared and we were shortly called out for. On offer was black tea sweetened with jaggery and rotis that were mildly sweet. They were not made of atta – I asked but I now forget the name. I was hungry and I hogged on 2 or 3 rotis before we left the desert to return to Badal’s house on the camels.

Btw, if you’ve never been on a camel ride, I suggest you avoid it. The ride is bumpy and very uncomfortable when the camel’s walking. At speeds greater than walking (say, jogging), your back is thrown 2 inches into the air with every stride. If you don’t end up with a broken back, you’re sure to end up with body pains that’ll last a while. Don’t do it! (But you’ll probably do it anyway.)

 

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lakshmi Misthan Bhandar – A Money Pit

We recently visited Lakshmi Misthan Bhandar at Jaipur (or LMB) after it was recommended by several people both online and off of it.

We were terribly hungry when we went in, so we planned to dive right into the main course and have some roti and curry. We sat down in the restaurant and looked at the menu. One look at the prices and we left immediately. We wouldn’t ever want to pay Rs.300 for a curry and Rs.80 for a (basic) paratha (ever!). And specially not, given the ambience (or lack of it) of the place. This restaurant was a noisy and closely packed place with the looks of a casual restaurant. The thaali (platter) was Rs.540 per person! The restaurant, however, was packed, so people of Jaipur are either too rich or have very little choice when it comes to food.

We stepped out into the LMB snacks and sweets area, and decided to have some snacks / light food and continue our shopping. The snacks area is a big mess with pamphlets and printouts of “special snacks” and “LMB special sweets” plastered all over the wall. Stacks of sweets and boxes piled in every possible place. I’ve never seen a messier eatery before. It is not enough for the owner to understand what he offers, if the customer doesn’t get it, it’s a fail. There was also a lot of confusion among new customers over ordering food items as there was no visible “cash counter” anywhere. After asking, we were pointed to a small area walled with pre-packed sweet boxes that was supposedly the token counter.

There’s a menu card tucked in at this counter where we could finally figure out what was on offer.

IMG_20150207_185253090

 

Most of the items on this card, as you can see, are still quite overpriced. We ordered a Raj Kachori, a samosa, a Mirchi Bada and a Laccha Rabdi (sweet). The Raj Kachori (Rs.90) is a huge pani puri filled with alu + moong dal (cooked) and curd – it tasted alright. The Mirchi Bada (Rs.25) was filled with alu masala and was tasty. The samosa (Rs.20) was a major disappointment as its taste lacked any character – we left half of it. The Laccha Rabdi (Rs.40) was delicious and we savoured it all, leaving nothing.

Later that evening, we ordered a veg cheese sandwich (for our train journey) and packed some sweets for back home. However, when we opened the sandwich for eating later that night, we were shocked to see how thin it really was. And when we bite into it, we realize that there are no veggies in there! Just cheese and bread (for Rs.90!!). The sandwich was a horrible joke, so we then went and ordered more food from the train’s pantry service. We were left feeling ripped off.

The packed sweet box (petha with sugar syrup) didn’t have a tight seal either and started leaking as soon as we left LMB ( we noticed it later and had to do some cleanup of our luggage).

It looks like LMB is one of those places that continues to rake in money and pull in customers based on nothing but the fact that it was established ages ago. The owner of this place has tried to transform the sweet shop into a all-you-can-think-of eatery, serving items from sweets, ice-creams, burgers, pizzas, thaalis, roti-subji, and everything under the sun. When you step in, you can feel right away that this place doesn’t have a heart, that the owner doesn’t care- it is rather very disconnecting from the “person” and only seems to crave the person’s money.

This probably still would have been a value-for-money place had everything on the menu been HALF its price. However, at these horrendously insane prices (and severe lack of quantity for the price), the Lakshmi Misthan Bhandar is a place best avoided.

Posted in Reviews, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aa Seetadevi – Lyrics (Rowdy Fellow)

I’m posting the lyrics to this song Aa Seetadevi from the tackily named movie – Rowdy Fellow. I had heard the song twice on the radio and quite liked it. However, googling for the song yielded no results as the song is new and no one had posted the lyrics to the song. Also, the song is called “Aa seetadevi” but I was searching using other words from the song.

Here’s the lyrics to the song so nobody else will have to spend hours searching for it, and here’s the song on YouTube:

Aa seetadevi navvula... unnave enti maatala
Laskhmanude leni ramude... neeku eedu jodu veede

Andala buttabommala... acchanga kanti papala
Vennallo aadapilla la... ninnu taluchukundi eede

Chelliyo challako... premano anduko
Nootiko kotiko... varudu nenu le

Ninatti janmalo... punyame anduko
Kaallane adduko... vadhuvu gane maripove

Ee kshanam swayamvaram... ivala sambaram X 2
Veedukolu leni todu... andi swagatam
Ee kshanam swayamvaram... ivala sambaram

------------------------------------------------

Ivaala ningi loni taara... talukku mandi edurugaara
Vayassu teerikundadara? haayi haayi haayiiii

Sogassu panchutunna dhaara, nee pallukkuloni panchadhara
Aa paina oorukodu lera.. haayi haayi hayiiii

Uyaala oogutunte vallo... ekantham antu verey ledu lera
Kallaara ninnu chusukunte... haayi haayi haayi hayiii

Ee kshanam swayamvaram... ivala sambaram X 2
Veedukolu leni todu... andi swagatam
Ee kshanam swayamvaram... ivala sambaram

Aa Seetadevi navvula... unnave enti maatala
Laskhmanude leni ramude... neeku eedu jodu veede

Chelliyo challako... premano anduko
Kaallane adduko... vadhuvu gane maripove

Ee kshanam swayamvaram... ivala sambaram X 2
Veedukolu leni todu... andi swagatam
Ee kshanam swayamvaram... ivala sambaram





 

redirect

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

India’s Got A Driving Problem

Anybody that has driven or been driven in India know that it is not a pleasant experience. Heck, just being on an Indian road or street can be a highly stressful experience. Personally, I detest driving on India’s roads and I would call it as one of the most annoying experiences India has to offer. For many many years, I had a faint hint of hope that things would surely change for the better, but after a decade of being on these streets, I’ve completely lost all hope.

You know the rules of driving in India, wait, there’s just one rule and that is: “I’m the only one on the road”. Here, nobody likes to wait behind a vehicle, either in motion or at the signal. Everyone has to be at the front and in this quest we shall not care about clogging the free left or turning right from extreme left. We will also keep inching forward while waiting for green because that somehow makes red disappear faster. Don’t worry, all the action isn’t only for the lead drivers. Those waiting at the back while away time by spitting god-knows-what on the road, or trying to see how close their vehicle can get to the one in front or the side. Autorickshaws are trying to see if they can magically fit their tin-box into a gap meant for cats. Motorbikes are jostling hard to get to the much-vaunted front, and will climb footpaths and other Indian road undulations (such as your feet) to do so.

Red changes to green and mayhem occurs. Those at the front have the golden opportunity of being able to shoot themselves into a direction of choice. It’s different for everyone else. Drivers at the back see “Green” and their hands instantly reach for the large Indian horn-pad to scare the hell out of people like us around. For most Indians, though, it’s their wake up call to get their mouths in check (from spitting), phones go into pocket or into an awkward head-tilt. Autorickshaws will now try to get their junk machines to start, two wheelers will need to kick their mopeds into life, beggars will have to now move off the road and any pedestrian trying to cross over will need to run for life. Traffic starts moving an inch and you know it because there’s suddenly a massive cloud of black thick diesel and white kerosene smoke rising from tailpipes and there’s maddening honking everywhere. Nobody has any idea who’s taking what direction.  Everyone forgets lanes (if they knew what they were in the first place) and drive all over the road like they were scrambling for gold, but magically get their vehicle in the direction they intended to take.  Soon, the light turns to red but worry not, for there will be another 2 dozen vehicles that will make it before some decide to stop. Aah, the bliss of being at the front of a signal-wait.

Once let loose on the road, we drive with a happy bliss and leave all worries to the lemons hanging from the bumper (post puja). Driving too fast? Lemons. Following too closely? Lemons. Sudden lane change? Lemons. The lemons will automatically connect these drivers to whichever god they pray to and he creates a safety shield for the vehicles and it’s passengers. The aim is to drive fast, so long as you are in the general direction of your destination, then leave everything else to lemons. You don’t want to slow down for anyone and it’s pedal-to-metal if you see an empty road, forget vehicle dynamics and road conditions. On a congested road, honk a lot, and you might finally annoy someone into giving way. Remember to honk often, for that’s nitro-boost for your engine.

Also, when in doubt about any road “rule”, honk and ye shall find an answer. If you’re unsure where to go, honk and someone might appear at your window and tell you where to go. Municipal authorities selected a few streets and painted intermittent white lines that we’re not sure why. Hmm, maybe they are there to let the road-user know they’re still in the correct direction. We often wonder why they had to waste so much paint for telling direction. Oh wait, maybe it is to make up for the near-complete lack of street signs anywhere. There are a few signs peppered here and there but that’s for killing time on streets where there isn’t enough action in the form of stray dogs, pedestrians, cows or crazy drivers.

Then there is the complete lack of courteousness and the pushy behavior of a significant percent of motorists. If you’re in their general direction, even diagonally, they shall swerve and let you be known that you were supposed to have anticipated their move and slowed down. After all, they have important business to attend to. On undivided roads, the entire street for everybody, you choose the direction. You can drive on the left side or the right or even perpendicular to the traffic direction, it’s up to you. There will be a lot of honks in meek-protest, ye shall ignore them.

There is also complete ignorance and abuse of “high-beam” and it seems people are trying to illuminat other driver’s faces, rather than the road. It is nearly impossible to drive in India when it’s dark, and you can just manage if you choose to fold your rear view mirrors, else you’ll be completely blinded by vehicles at the back. Requests to dim lights are seen as requests to flash lights to dim and back to high beam. I have no choice but to switch to high-beam to be able to see something on the road. It’s weird, but I’ve seen some drivers switching to low-beam for 1-2 seconds and as I say “aah, thanks” and switch to low myself, they switch back to high-beam. I don’t get it.

I could write a book with a dozen chapters on India’s driving habits, but if there’s one common behavior that I see on the wild wild Indian roads, that’s this: We drive like we walk. Go to any busy bazaar street and what do you see? People jostling for space, walking inches within each other, randomly changing directions to go faster, some will even physically move you out of the way if you walk too slowly for them. We know where we want to go and we will make way for ourselves to be there. We all know the common push with hands or bellies from those behind. Also, there’s no queue system at any Indian counter and it’s service for the most pushy and loudest, and it reflects on the streets.

Most of the mess could be curbed with strict rule enforcement but in India, everybody’s innocent and the one with the meekest voice or without any ass-saving names to throw around (police officers, politicians, media connections) are the culprits (mostly middle class). By the way, all those 1.3Lakh people dying on India’s roads forgot to hang lemons.

Posted in Country Affairs | Leave a comment

Maggi Keeps Getting Smaller

It’s now being done so often that it no longer is shocking. Your favorite pack of Maggi has become lighter, yet again. What used to be 100 grams packed into a Rs.10 pack years ago is now just 70 grams. The latest drop in weight happened just a few weeks ago and here’s the proof:

IMG_0144

Here’s a pack from just a few weeks ago:

IMG_0142

Here’s a double pack from 2 years ago (160g / 2 = 80g per noodle cake):

IMG_0141

Maggi might think they’re being clever by sticking to the Rs.10 price point, therefore playing with the psychology of the customer, but customers are not fools. I knew there was something wrong with the new pack as soon as I picked it up at the store, and many more (even those with a not-so-discerning eye) will notice it sooner or later when their favorite pack no longer fills even a fraction of their hunger.

Does Maggi think I’d now buy and prepare two packs to satiate my hunger? I definitely cannot eat all that Maggi by myself. Oh, I forget, you have a new “Hungroo” pack for those with “larger” appetites. But it still is only a 90gram pack, smaller than the yester-year 100gram pack. For years now, I have added extra vegetables to my noodles to make sure I’m filled. But at this rate, I’ll quite soon be left with only veggies on my plate.

P.S: Makes we wonder how Ramen can sell these packs at 10-15cents (6-10Rs) each, even in the USA, but Maggi can’t do so here. Case of being greedy?

Posted in Personal | Leave a comment

The Amazing Quality and Service of Timberland Shoes (Not)

Less than 2 years ago, I bought a wonderful pair of expensive Timberland shoes. After having used Woodlands shoes for more than 4 years I was tired of using them, but they seemed indestructible.

So, I got these seemingly great looking pair of shoes from Timberland although I was feeling guilty for having splurged so much. I thought to myself, if Woodlands could last so long, these should last forever.

A few months later, I switched from the brown pair of laces to the green ones (both provided with the shoes) just for the heck of change, but within a few weeks the green laces started developing bulges and the inner threads come loose.

IMG_4336 IMG_4338

When I visited Timberland (Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad) and asked them what was up, they said “wear and tear” and asked me to get a pair from “Secunderabad” because apparently they don’t stock laces for their own shoes. Wow.

About a month ago, the threading on one of my shoes on a strip started coming off loose, and now there’s a decent enough gap that has developed at the seams. At the time of shoe purchase, I was promised a “lifetime” warranty (of the shoe – pegged at 3 or 4 years) for the shoes for any defects. So, I left for the showroom yet again and showed my shoe to a guy working there. His response did not amaze me “You should get it to a cobbler”. I was thoroughly amused. Wow, I hadn’t even thought of that! This guy is a genuis.

IMG_4333IMG_4335

When I asked him about the “lifetime” warranty he threw the most heard line from salespersons around the country “It’s a wear and tear issue”. He meant it wasn’t a manufacturing defect and hence it won’t be covered in warranty. “Then what is?” I though to myself.

I asked him if I could pay the store to have it repaired. He said they didn’t have any such service in store. Again, why are you selling shoes? Here was the only direct store in the entire city and they don’t service what they sell !

How about you buy a car and the dealer refuses to service it? Or if he says the welding came off due to “wear and tear” ?

This shoe store was basically only stocking and selling shoes from Timberland. And what happens after the sale is none of their business. Good luck getting return customers. And, I’ve never seen a sale or discount on any of their shoes while I saw decent discounts on Timberland shoes in the USA last time I visited.

Full thumbs down for Timberland.

Posted in Reviews | 5 Comments

Why Indian Mom And Pop Stores Deserve To Close Down

The title of this post seems a tad too harsh, but how else would I make my point? Whenever there is any talk in the MSM (mainstream media) about encouraging foreign big chain retail stores or increasing the investment ratio in FDI, we hear intense criticism from several sections of the society shouting at the top of their voices in multi-screen debates about how that would ruin the nation and render all the small and medium kirana store owners unemployed. I don’t agree.

First, in general, there don’t exist many mom and pop stores in India to be frank.  There are quite a few of them, yes, but the majority are mostly run by the ‘man’ or men of the family. They’re either owned by dad and son, or dad and brother(s), or dad and cousins with the ladies hardly being involved. The ladies are generally not entrusted with orders or actual store running but mostly just fill in the absence of the ‘man’ when he’s out but not as someone meant to take over the operations and run the store. The result of this is that most stores today totally lack the touch of the fairer sex who may provide a more home-like and comforting feeling for customers. A retail store economy that doesn’t include the woman of the household is already skewed enough and they don’t deserve to be categorized as mom-pop stores.

That aside, one of the main reasons for my apathy towards small stores is the attitude towards customers. Ever received multiple cheap toffees in exchange for coins? Has a shop owner ever slapped the change on the counter, all the while looking elsewhere, appearing to behave as if you don’t exist? Have you been rudely talked to for not carrying sufficient change? How many times do retailers charge over and above the price on MRP? How many times did you not have to pay “cooling charges” for milk packets, or cold drinks, or hell, even ice-cream? This is the situation with the kirana stores and other various small stores.

This attitude of sheer disrespect for the money or value brought in by the customer is often seen in various interactions with store owners. If there is scope to make money even if it means screwing a customer, then so be it. There is an utter lack of any service or loyalty-based benefits for the customer, atleast in urban towns and cities. The situation may be slightly different in smaller towns and villages where there is a general feeling of community and the customer could well be the owner’s neighbor.

Now, let’s say I step into a hypermarket, a retail chain, a sprawling store with thousands upon thousands of products I can choose from – products both from India and imports from other countries. I’m offered discounts on MRP for many products, and I’m offered varying product sizes and quantities. I can touch and feel and read the label on these products before I purchase them without being hurried by either the store owner or another customer behind the queue as is the case with a kirana store. Manufacturers of products have a greater chance showcasing and selling their new products better in a large browsable store than at a small 4 by 4 around the corner.

Also, who wants to shop around at 5 different stores when you can get everything at one place? Yes, I want my sanity. I’ve lost count how many times I have to shop around because one of the small stores wouldn’t keep an item.

Plus, you get better service and responses from in-store staff than at a kirana because they’re under scrutiny by the store supervisor and not just because their livelihood is dependent on the job.

Not all supermarket chains are as nice, though. My experience with Big Bazaar hasn’t been any better than with any other kirana store, and their checkout counter staff are among the worst and rudest. However, my experience with Spencers, and Hypercity has been really good and it encourages me to take on the small stores and their attitude.

If you think otherwise, you’re very welcome to pour in your comments.

Posted in Country Affairs | 1 Comment

Find out last day of month using “cal” on Unix

I was writing a script the other day that required having to find out the last day of a month in a future month again generated by the script. I searched online for solutions but most of them were based on the “date” commands math functions. However, GNU date wasn’t available on the solaris machine I was using so I was stuck with the “cal” command.

cal

After trying a “cal” based solution online and realizing it wouldn’t work for half the year, I gave up and proceeded to try something on my own. And I came up with this:

`cal $x $y | tr -d '\n' | awk '{print substr($0,length-1,2)}'`

What this does is to generate the calendar for month “x” in year “y”, then remove all new line characters so the entire data lines up on one single line with the last date of the month obviously at the end. I then used “awk” to cut 2 characters at n-1 and n.

cal

 

So far I’ve not had any trouble with this script. But. if you happen to find a bug in this, please do let me know.

Posted in Linux, Tech. | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Does McDonalds India serve egg in their mayonnaise?

A few days back, I was having a veggie burger from McDonalds when I wondered if the mayonnaise they served on their burger was made with eggs or without. Now, I’m a vegetarian, to be precise an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. Although I avoid eggs to the best possible extent, I don’t mind them in my cakes, mayo, or ranches. However, I really had to ask them the question on behalf of the millions of Indians who do not eat eggs for religious and other reasons.

I shot an email to McDonalds India after reaching home asking them if they serve egg in their mayo. As of today, I’m waiting for an official reply from them. I will keep you updated on their response. Here is the email I sent them:

Would you please let me know the ingredients for the mayonnaise 
served in your restaurants nationwide? I am a vegetarian and would
like to know if you serve egg-based mayonnaise on your vegetarian
items as well.
Thanks!

Update: After 35 days and a reminder email, I received this reply from a representative at McDonald’s India for West and South:

Dear Sanjay, 
Greetings from McDonald’s! Thank you for writing in to us. Please accept our apologies for not replying sooner. Rest assured all of our mayo is eggless! Please do continue to have our burgers! 
Regards Gauri Karnik 
McDonald’s India – West & South

There! That clears it.

Posted in Country Affairs | Leave a comment

AWS Cloudwatch Custom Metrics on Windows Server (missing documentation)

If you’re trying to setup/add custom metrics on an AWS instance (because Amazon didn’t see it fit to include something as basic memory usage to their metrics list), then you might have run into this page. What the page doesn’t tell you is that if you try to run a script in a power shell, it would complain about “File XXX cannot be loaded because the execution of scripts is disabled on this system”. Go ahead and run “Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned” and change the execution policy.


Run the script again. Success? No.

Because, what that page also doesn’t tell you is that every AWS instance for Windows Server already arrives with a deprecated installation of AWS SDK for .NET, so when you run your script, you’ll run into something like “Cannot find type [Amazon.Cloudwatch.Model.PutMetricDataRequest]: make sure the assembly containing this type if loaded.” error.

That’s because the deprecated AWS SDK for .NET does not have the required extensions to run your scripts. Go ahead and download & install the full SDK from this page. When you run this file, you may run into a dialog box stating “The deprecated AWS .NET SDK installer was detected. It is recommended you uninstall AWS SDK for .NET before continuing with this installation.”


Now, I couldn’t find an uninstaller for the deprecated version from either “Programs and Features” or in the “AWS SDK for .NET” folder under program files. So, I clicked “No” on the installer and proceeded to install it over the existing installation. Notice the difference in the folder size and contents before and after installing the full SDK:

 

Go ahead and run your script. Did it run or did you run into “Cannot bind argument to parameter ‘Path’ because it is null.” ?


That error is because you installed the full SDK over the deprecated installation. Fire up your favorite editor and open the “mon-put-metrics-mem.ps1” script and search for “$SDKLibraryLocation”. Notice what path the variable is pointing to. It should read “C:\Windows\Assembly”.

If you browse to that location in explorer, you’ll notice two AWSSDK.dll files. The newer one came from the full SDK installation.

I had no idea Windows lets you have two dll files with the same name.

Now you can uninstall the older AWSSDK.dll file from the folder and run your scripts without issues. The AWS SDK for .NET installer probably wanted me to do this in the first place, but how would I know?


However, you can also point the script to the AWSSDK.dll inside Program Files. To do that, point the variable inside the script to “C:\Program Files (x86)\AWS SDK for .NET\bin”:


Notice that I added double quotes around the path because it is full of spaces, which would again put your script in trouble.
Run your script now. See success? A successful “put” wouldn’t return anything.

However, if you want it to give you more information you could always add a “-verbose” option.

If you now open (or page refresh) CloudWatch for your instance, you should be able to see your new metrics.


Hope someone finds this useful, I wasted precious time figuring all this out the hard way.

Posted in Tech. | 2 Comments