Despite all the distance, I still require my fathers name to get a cell phone....

As odd as it sounds, getting a cell phone in India is a bit of an ordeal. At least the first time round. Today, I went to buy a new SIM card so that Sally has a phone number she can use when she comes to visit this month. It was easier this time, only because I was prepared! I went back to the store where I bought my SIM card, and went through the application process. Here are the steps to set up a PREPAID account:

  1. Choose a phone number:
    1. The store will have a stack of packets with phone numbers on them
    2. They will had you the packets to find a suitable number
      1. I usually take ones with lots of repeating numbers
      2. Like 995399925 - so that I can use the Indian form of Double 9, 53 Triple 9..
  2. Produce the following forms of documentation
    1. Copy of US Passport
    2. Copy of Indian Visa
    3. A Passport sized photo
  3. Fill out the application - interesting questions include:
    1. Fathers Name or Husbands Name.....
  4. Finally, Signatures!
    1. Sign both contract forms
    2. Sign your photocopy of your passport
    3. Sign your photocopy of the visa
    4. Sign the passport photo - over your chest
After all this, you are given a SIM card to put in a phone for 200 rupees. You still need to buy minutes, and get both activated. The store owner, will actually activate your phone on the spot - usually using the OLDEST CELL PHONE IN THE WORLD to do so. This is also true when topping up (adding credit). Today, I went to a vodafone store over lunch, and they still had to pull out an old brick of a cell phone.

Other interesting cell phone fact - Nobody has voicemail on their cell phone here & often - it is not available or set up on work lines... Who knew?!


chris.goldrick said...

That is bizarre! And kinda offensive.