Serviceless and agitated, we did not want to relive another afternoon that paralleled the previous scattered afternoons throughout the past two weeks at the Airtel shop in 4th block, Jayanagar, Bangalore. We maneuvered around the woman who sweeps the dust with a grass broom and retreated to the plastic red chairs. There is not much to look at in the shop except for the advertisement of the 20-something indian woman who wears minimal make up, an army jacket, a dainty double-stranded necklace and has chopped hair. She seemed to be mocking us she boasted her functioning, 4G phone.
The Airtel personnel updated us. As hindsight is said to be 20-20, instructions could have been clearer. We were supposed to be the primary names on the phone application, and instead, our hosts had diligently yet incorrectly deciphered and completed the Kannada (local language) paperwork. Although not the biggest ordeal, this meant that our phone usage was temporarily terminated, because a representative from the Airtel shop needed residence verification our hosts, and he had stopped by the home when no one was home.
With another 3000R deposit (a fairly pricy expense), we were able to get that cleared up. The deposit was said to be returned after ending the contract before leaving India in the spring, however I haven't checked to see if that was true.
Regardless, a minimum of a "few more days" passed before the old-school Nokia phones were going to be activated. This is when we erupted. "We're paying for this! This thing to work. We've been reluctantly spending our afternoons walking to this store, waiting, and being turned down again and again. This is ridiculous!" This sentiment was supported by another frustrated customer who said a few words, gave us a collaborative and stiff nod, and stormed out of the store. An awkward tone succeeded, a few words were exchanged, and we left the store.
By divine intervention, we passed the CakePort shop a few buildings south of Airtel.
"Wanna split a cake?"
We order a fabulous, 12-inch cake: chocolate with chocolate frosting.
"Do you need plates? Anything else?"
Forkful by forkful, we spent the next ten minutes devouring the cake. Although slightly sick at the end, the phone frustrations were forgotten (somewhat). Note: this is not a good way to go through life, but this time "eat your feelings" was a great solution to life's problems.
Follow up news: We eventually got the phones to work! I had service throughout India and happily adapted to an internet-less, basic phone life. Additionally, we apologized to the Airtel shop folks several times (the "several times" part was possibly for the Minnesota Nice within me that needed to clear up the situation). It was rude to shout at them for something that inherently frustrating about the system. This was a lesson that I learned with different lenses and in different systems. Be a part of the solution, rather than instigating the problem. Be kind.
Thanks for reading.