The first time I really thought about what it would be like to get a connection was from reading William Dalrymple’s amusing(ly written, not so amusing going through the experience) narrative about what it used to be like to try to get a landline phone connection in Delhi, in City of the Djinns. Now, every time I’ve moved to India to live here I’ve very conveniently managed to move in with flatmates who already had everything set up.
This time, finally, it was my turn. So, I guide you through what it is like to get an Airtel wifi connection in Delhi:
- Day 1. Select the plan you want online. I asked around and figured out how much and what speed my flatmates and I needed. I also figured out that the connection cannot be in my name because I don’t have a lease/document linking me to this address. So, though I am coordinating, I have to use my flatmate’s ID documentation.
- Day 1. A few hours later, a random Airtel person calls me to tell me that he needs to come by to get our documents. I tell him to come at a time that my flatmate will be home, then tell my flatmate the documents she’ll need to provide.
- Day 2. The next day, I get a call from yet another Airtel person, who tells me to go to airtel.in/payonline, enter in a “CAF #” that he read out loud to me, pay the Rs. 1000 activation fee using this online form, then Whatsapp him “the confirmation number” (which I figured out was the Transaction ID which I would get upon confirmation of my payment).
- Day 2. Then, a third Airtel person, later in the day (while I am at work) calls my cell phone to tell me he is at my house (at 3pm) to install the wiring. I told him, of course, that no one was home because we all work (wow! no housewife?!). So he complained a little but did grudgingly come at 6pm after I got home. It took about 1 hour for him to install the wiring. That’s when he told me yet another guy would “come later” to install the modem.
- Day 3. Finally, a fourth Airtel guy showed up at my flat (luckily, I was home this time). He is now installing my modem. He needed a laptop with an ethernet connection (though my laptop doesn’t have this sort of port, luckily, someone in the house had one) to install it. He has assured me that the wifi will work by the end of the day! Fingers and toes and everything else crossed.
A fittingly bureaucratic process for a bureaucratic country, and fairly efficient (assuming that I do get a working wifi connection within 3 days of my initial request – that would not be bad!). But….did 4 different people have to call me at different times during the work day (and 3 of them show up at my house, most without calling ahead of time), and without even telling me what the process was going to actually be at the beginning? Hmmmmmmmm.