Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tomorrow Land

People want to know, “How is India?” Crazy doesn’t begin to describe it, but these two examples might.

We bought cell phones upon arrival which, incidentally, do not come with cell phone service. That requires a completely separate store that you should never approach without a complete set of “must haves.”  You must have your cell phone, your passport,  your visa, your proof of living address (registered and stamped by the police), your proof of ability to pay, and your proof of employment.

With those in hand, have your driver take you on a 20-25 minute drive to a very small cell phone service store and hope someone speaks understandable English. Once you’ve waited in line for about an hour, the paperwork takes another 30 minutes and a passport photo to complete. Lucky you must leave the service store with a partially working cell phone – out-going calls only – until an employee visits you at your residence to verify that you actually live where you just said (and proved) that you live. If that person fails to type in a verification code within 24 hours, your service is cutoff and you have to go back to the service store. The one hour line should have given us a heads up….


Living at a hotel’s extended-stay apartments, someone is ALWAYS at the front desk to verify that you live there. Always. We were rejected 5 times for non-verification before we gave up waiting in the same line 20 minutes away and tried a completely different cell phone with new phone numbers but the same results. After one month of unspeakable frustration, our Indian friends called and used their Hindi on them. It involved a lot of yelling. We have now been mostly connected for one month. I really must learn Hindi.

Over a month ago, Ty went chair shopping. He needed a comfortable chair for his temporary home office.

On a Wednesday we sat in all the chairs at Hometown and found one that Danielle said was “sic!” The sales person wanted us to take the floor model but it was wobbly. We opted to have one delivered. Ty said, “I need it this week.”  The guys said, “we can deliver in 10 days.” But that wasn’t this week… so the guy had a pow-wow with another guy in Hindi and then said, “We deliver Saturday. If no come, then come next day.” Got it. If the chair doesn’t show up Saturday, it will show up Sunday.  Perfect – the front desk guys will be there all day. Ty tells all of them that he’s bought a chair and to please let him know when it arrives.

Every day Ty stops and asks the front desk guys, “Has my chair come?” They say, without fail, “No, sir. There is no chair come for you.” A week and a half later, still no chair. The front desk guy takes pity and offers to call the store. He discovers that the chair has always been scheduled to be delivered after 10 days.  The beaming front desk guy informs us, “It will be delivered tomorrow, sir!”

One week, and seven daily queries later, the chair still has not appeared. We get another Indian friend to call. She is told, “No one answered the phone when we came to deliver.” Dang that cell phone verification failure! Now the chair is due to arrive on the day we move into our new apartment - almost exactly one month later then the original delivery date. We take the gamble and change the delivery address. We arrive at the apartment to find a note on the door, “Hometown was unable to deliver. Please call.” They actually showed up but on the wrong day. Still no chair but a little hope because it actually almost happened. These ads all over the city are starting to make sense...

Our Hindi speaking friend calls and reschedules for the next day. I cannot believe our luck when I open the door and see two guys from Hometown with a big box. The chair has arrived! They come in and open the box and I leave them carefully setting out the bevy of pieces on the floor. A few minutes later they want me to sign for each and every piece of the chair and then they put on their shoes and head for the door. “Wait!!! You need to put it together!” “Sorry. We warehouse. Installer come. You must call.”  Never in a million years will I make that call. The chair is here – 23 pieces feels like a miracle that we can assemble.

Ty tackles the chair the following morning. He has most of it done when the doorbell rings. Of all the crazy things in this crazy place that often makes no sense to me, the installers (who we never called) have voluntarily showed up to assemble the nearly completed chair.

With the move into the new apartment we have inherited  a host of situations where someone will come “tomorrow” – the installation of internet, dryer installation, glass shower partition, electrician for the air conditioner, microwave repair man, water purifier serviceman, pigeon net installer, new cell phone verification (we have to do the phone thing all over again with a different carrier who has signal in our area). All these people were supposed to be here Tuesday - Monday’s Tomorrow. Today is Friday and the list of unseen tomorrow-ites is piling up despite our team of 4 Hindi friends calling and yelling several times a day.

How is India, you ask. Let me tell you, INDIA IS A BEAST!!!!  It will toy with you, frustrate you, confound you, make you want to do unspeakable things and then.... it will surprise and delight you in ways you never imagined. That's how India is.

1 comment:

  1. At this rate, it's going to take the entire two years just to get set-up to LIVE there! What an adventure.