Why does it have to be this way?

the Indian Government insists that your national ID card, known as the Aadhaar Card be associated with your mobile number for you to have continued service. As below. (I’m not commenting here about ‘Big Brother’ and will leave that for another time. )

So I dutifully visit my local Airtel shop to do the business.

Young Airtel woman:

Sir, you can now call this number (as she hands me a small card) and arrange it on the phone.

Foreigner:

Takes card. Readies his…. Two phones, (one to use and one for password, ok maybe overkill, I am 61), his Aadhaar card (yes foreigners can get one) and phone bill.

Calls number. It’s working. Press one for Indian and press two for foreigner. I press two. Line goes dead. I try again. And again. And again.

Slightly irate foreigner:

“It’s not working”

Airtel young woman

“Come back on Monday sir”

Foreigner

“Why can’t you do it now?”

Airtel

Some mumbling about not having working equipment.

More irate foreigner.

“This is my third time here to sort this out. (Slight fib as it was my second time). Why can’t you do it! This is ridiculous” or words to that effect.

She calls me over. Gets out her mobile together with the fingerprint reader and does the business. It takes just a few moments.

Now why didn’t she do that in the first place? Why did it take two visits, phone calls, telling me to return in two days and a bit of a fit? To get her to do her job properly.

It’s not just in India but one of life’s conundrums. Instead of just doing their job well, being helpful and informative they give us the ‘runaround.’ Shame really.

well ‘Big Brother’ has just got back to me….

 

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Maid in India 3

I arrived at my friend Cariappa’s house to meet the prospective maid.

I have no photos of the meeting. I think the whole thing, for everyone involved was all too intense! We were checking each other out. How weird. Would we get on? How would we know? It’s quite an intimate thing. Inviting someone into your home to cook, clean, and look after things. This was a whole now experience for me. Manjula of course had been here before she had worked as a maid for over ten years for one family, amongst many other things. Me, I was the beginner, the intrepid explorer stepping out into the unknown.

Help!

I’d only supposed to come out to a India for a few months’ pilot. Now I was renting a house, furnishing it, employing a maid. What had happened there… A whole new adventure, in a crazy land and with so many twists and turns…. Whatever next!?

…. if only I’d known!

What would she be like? What did I want and how would I communicate it?

What would she think? (I found out later!) Working for a foreigner would be so different, maybe! It’s worth me remembering I’m from a poor background that’s shifted into the middle class and now living abroad in India.  ‘The old poor made good’ which as it turned out, is exactly the path that many in India are taking.

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Manjula was quiet, shy, reserved. She’d brought a friend with her for moral support. Good idea! We spoke a few words with Cary and his wife Ganga helping out. I just wanted someone to cook a meal and clean. We  then walked round the corner to my house. Things seemed to be going well. They looked around the place, it seemed so big to me. There’s so much to clean but only me, honest! Just the upstairs house with three bedrooms (known locally as a 3BHK) the downstairs house came later. It was sparsely furnished with little on the walls, it’s hard to imagine what it was like ( so, so different now) but then oh no……..we hit a problem….. it was all off ……we’d found the deal breaker..