Wow. Talk about red tape. And I thought KL was bad......
First of all, you cannot....activate your bank account, activate a sim card, register your children for school, buy a car, wipe your butt until you get FRRO'd. FRRO, basically all foreigners who plan to stay in India for over 180 days (I think) have to register with this office within two weeks of being here. Why you need this after already obtaining employment and dependent visas is a mystery to us, regardless, it's something we needed to do and so we did. We had heard and read horror stories about this process. Basically it is an all day process. You can check and re-check your documents but bottom line, there will always be something that you don't have and that you will need, rules change weekly from we are told (and we believe) and who knows what will be asked for from one week to next. We were determined that we were going to have all our documents ready and we also decided we would be the first ones in line as we heard the queues were crazy long. We were second in line, (yippee! short lived elation) and that was the end of our "yippee" moments that day. Long story short, it was a long, long day. We arrived at 7:15AM and were done at 3:30PM. I would re-tell the tale but it would be like sticking a fork in my eye and I would rather not. We got it done though, hallelujah we got FRRO'd! Next line of business was getting me a phone!
Tuesday, Jan 16. What do you need in India to obtain a sim card? Give up your first born, a kidney, throw in a lung and a passport pic please. What? You want a sim card for your phone and one for your ipad? Ok you need to submit all of those in duplicate for each sim card. I kid you not. After I submitted a copy of my passport, a copy of my visa, a copy of my FRRO document and a lovely passport pic (we finally went out and bought 50 passport pics each, you need them for everything here) and don't forget a deposit, I was the proud owner of two sim cards.But wait...there's more? Before my international calling and caller ID could be activated from my phone, my address on the forms I submitted had to be verified. A rep from the phone company was to contact me within 48 hours and set up an appointment to come visit me at my 'home" and verify that I live where I said I did on the form. Not kidding. No worries, I was now the owner of two sim cards one for my phone, one for Ipad, yay! I was thrilled to have the sim card, next was a search for the phone. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel I would be able to phone my loved ones any minute now! Later that evening I purchased a new Samsumg Galaxy 2, although my Galaxy 1 was unlocked, they would have had to wipe my phone clean to download all the India software to be compatible with my new India sim. No thanks. I can always use my "old phone" on trips back to KL. But I have a sim card and a phone. Yippee!
Wednesday, Jan 18, verified. Rep came and verified that we live where we said we did. Yay! Now my caller ID and International calling would be initiated right? "Yes, all will be done within the hour". Yay! No yay.
Thursday, Jan. 19.
Nothing was activated. Called the guy two hours later, than three, finally got a hold of him. "Should all be activated...it's not?" Sir do you wish for me to come back tomorrow and check the phone". Believe me we have checked and double checked all settings, Samsung authorized dealer has agreed the issue is with the phone company, so.......yes we opted for rep to come back today. Same time. The guy is a no show. We were told we should have offered him an incentive on his first visit, thanked him with an "incentive" before he left. This is where the "bribes" issue has finally dawned on us......and it sucks. I have called the airtel help center and they said "your address has not been verified". I of course disagreed and told that we had a visitor yesterday who "verified" us. Nope. He has not submitted verification. Me: How long does that take? Airtel rep: one hour to 24 hours. Big huge sign. Everyone, EVERYONE I have talked to has said, that if we had given the guy an incentive we would complete activation by now. And if I had known that, I would have parted with my money with no regret. We are learning. In the mean time friends, I have a phone, feel free to call me, but I have no idea when I'll be calling you.
I leave you now with love and light....and a real effort not to kick and scream and hurt somebody. My new found patience will be put to the test over and over and over I am sure. Love and light, love and light, love and light....
p.s. I just realized that this posting has no pics, so I will now include pics of our favorite restaurant...Chez Mariannick. The menu is simple and perfect. The wine....good wine is hard to find in India, I personally think all the good wine is in Chez's possession, everything we have had there has been divine. The salad, the pizza, (their specialty is crepes- only made on weekends which we hope to try this weekend),....the setting- an incredibly relaxed ambiance. I find their chocolate toffee cheesecake to be one of the best cheesecakes I have ever eaten....can you guess where we dined tonight? For those of you who plan to visit, that will be the first restaurant you will have the pleasure of visiting!