Yesterday was cell phone day at our house. The initial plan of action was to buy pre-paid SIM cards to swap into our existing phones. We knew that it wouldn’t be an option for our iPhones, but thought that with some luck we might be able to do the switch-a-roo with our work cell phones.
After my doctor’s appointment, we headed for the cell phone store, passports in hand as instructed. We waited our turn to sit down and talk to one of the sales guys and began to review plans. Once we had selected a plan (and chosen our own phone numbers!) the sales guy got out the standard form for us to fill out and asked for copies of our passports.
“No problem, I have our passports right here.”
He didn’t actually want to see the passports, he merely wanted a copy.
“Its ok, go ahead and make a copy.”
“No ma’am, you need to go make a copy.”
“There is a Xerox center down the street, take the first right, then the Xerox center will be on your right.”
Off we went. Down the street, around the corner, and into the Xerox center on the right. Not so quick but easy, copies made, back to the corner, hang a left, back into the cell phone store, wait our turn, back down to business.
We begin to fill out the forms. I should clarify that “us” filling out the forms entails the guy quizzing us on the questions and writing down our answers.
“Full name please?” … “Father’s full name?” … Whaaa? … “Local address?” … “Local contact to verify identity?” … Huh? That’s a tough one. …
“Passport photos please?” … But we had just handed over the photocopies. … “No, you must supply a passport sized photo. You can get one around the corner at the photo studio. Go down the street to the corner, turn right, it will be on your left.”
Off we went again. They really did mean photo studio!
Not only did we get one photo each, we got four photos each because that was the minimum order quantity. Unfortunately, they are not the same size or shape as American passport photos. Maybe we will need more while we’re here.
Back to the corner, back up the street, wait for our turn, hand the photos over to the salesman, “Thank you, please select new phone numbers now.”, and chose new phone numbers…again. Finally it looked like we were home free.
“These SIM cards will not work in US cell phones because your cell phones are locked.”
The guy demonstrated the problem and I had figured as much before we even went in there, so we asked to see the cheapest phones available and picked the second cheapest one. We both felt better going with a Nokia than a brand-X phone.
“Now I need your Visa copies please.” For real? Ugh. Would have been good to know that when we went on the wild good chase to get our passport copies.
I know what you’re thinking, but we did not go down to the corner, hang a right, and head to the Xerox center on the right. Instead we did something incredibly stupid, but seemingly necessary given the desperation that we were feeling at this point.
We were hungry, it had been hours since breakfast. I had to go to the bathroom, every step was excruciating and public bathrooms do not seem to be as readily available in India as they are at home.
We handed over our passports to the guy’s assistant and told him to go ahead and take them down the street to make copies of our Visas.
Bracing myself for the “You moron!” comments.
Fortunately the guy came back, passports and visa copies in hand. We were almost there, with only the ordeal of loading pre-paid minutes onto the phones between us and cellular freedom!
After approximately six credit card transactions, we had loaded enough minutes onto the phones to satisfy us. Apparently our appetites for cellular usage far exceed those of a typical Indian as we each asked to load three times the maximum amount on our phone. This may be driven in part by the enormous amount of time that visiting the cell phone store took.
At this point, I was feeling exhausted, and pretty lucky that I am a girl. You see, Chris and I each now have three cell phones to tote around with us. Um, overkill?
We could probably ditch the iPhones, but those are the only fun ones to play with of the whole bunch, so mine will remain a fixture in my purse. The India phones and the work phones are here to stay for sure.