Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting connected

As the internet connection I’d bought in Delhi didn’t work in Bhawanipatna, I decided to swap it for one provided by BSNL - the national telecoms provider. First stop was the BSNL exchange where they have to confirm it will work on your computer. Next, we trucked down to the shop to purchase the required gizmo. It wasn’t a shop exactly but a collection of offices and, a bit like playing a computer game, you had to clear various levels before you’re allowed to make your purchase. You successfully complete Level 1 only to find yourself back there because you’ve made a mistake at Level 2. It took numerous attempts to successfully complete Levels 1 and 2 - I needed to fill out a form but they didn't have any in stock so I should try another time; the photo didn't look like me - could I come back with a better one; the man at Level 2 isn’t in today - come back tomorrow; and so it went on. Then, having finally made it to Level 3, I was told that, because I was a foreigner, I should have applied in my employer's name and not my own.
By now I was the highest scoring player at Levels 1-3 so, armed with a fresh set of forms, getting to Level 4 was a breeze. Here all the paperwork was laboriously copied out by hand and then two further pages of carefully hand-written text were created and everything was placed in a beige folder. Assuming we were done, I got up to leave. Not a bit of it - I was told to sit back down while all the pages were meticulously written out again and placed in a red folder and then there was the copy for the grey folder and then the yellow. To keep myself sane during the 2½ hour process, I recited The Jumblies to myself. Somehow, the thought of creatures with green heads and blue hands sailing across oceans in a sieve seemed infinitely less surreal than what was going on in front of me. Finally, I accompanied the orange folder to Level 5 where exactly the same information was entered onto the “shop’s” only computer. It very quickly became clear that the computer wasn't working but I sat there for further 1½ hours until everybody else had come to the same conclusion. The Jumblies set sail again several times.
The next day - 17 days after I'd first started - I was finally allowed to buy the required gizmo. However, as I sit here in my flat posting my blogs and listening to latest BBC Radio 4 podcast, I think, in the end, it was probably all worth it. As they say, "All things come to those who wait" … eventually.

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