Dilli o Dilli or, The world of MTNL-2

It’s been nearly FOUR years since I last lost my cell phone. In the meantime, I have rejected Aircel and taken up with Airtel, which is an improvement, and have been managing pretty well with my dual SIM phone. That is, until I dropped it about 10 days ago  (yes, I know exactly how it happened and where, but that is a different story).

I know the routine – first talk to the Airtel and MTNL folks and ask them to suspend both numbers, then go to the police station to report the loss, written report and copy for signature-as-receipt in hand; but what do you know (nahin ji, do copy nahin chahiye, aapko computer se receipt mil jayega/i), there has been electronic progress! I spend about 40 minutes while my report is processed, during which period two young men come in, one alone and blind, the other with a retinue of friends. The first had lost his ID card, the other his smartphone costing 6000/- (why I don’t have one). No, scratch that — khoya nahin, chori hua tha! he did not LOSE that expensive item, oh no, someone STOLE it in the crowded bus he was traveling in. The policewomen in the office are quite helpful and friendly. Finally, I get my printed receipt and am off to the next step.

Kamala Nagar and the Airtel shop (which has become very Apple-like in its overall look and ambience) and get my replacement SIM card. Easy. Can make calls in one hour, I am told. Ok. And can send text messages after 48 hours. Oh ok….of course, I promptly forget this fact, but that is another story (well, alright, later that day I try to send/receive messages, cannot, get into a flap, send off a message to their online complaints, and within 30 mins get an e-mail, a phone call and an SMS saying that I can get it to work after 48 hours, and sheepishly remember being told this…)

Anyway I know, from my previous experiences, that MTNL is not going to be straightforward. Firstly, when I make my complaint, the lady at the other end helpfully told me that they still have my address from 5 years ago and suggested that I should change it, and that I take proof of both old and new addresses when I go to the MTNL office. Easy, I think–passport for the old and Univ. ID for the new…tut tut tut….but I get ahead of myself. Having had enough that day, I postpone my trip.

A day later I call the MTNL office in the area where I used to live–aapko Shakti Nagar Sanchar Haat mein jaanaa hogaji–lucky I called them, wasn’t it! So the day after (I can only handle one step in progress at a time) I set off from work just before lunchtime, get into a ricksha and tell him to go to Shakti Nagar, realize I do know know the location of the office, dismiss the thought of going back to my office to find out thinking I could ask someone there–WRONG! Most people don’t know, two misdirect us with great confidence and the last one, with even greater confidence, sends us to the sanchar haat near the Gurudwara…Shakti Nagar Sanchaar Haat sir naam kaa hai ji, woh to Darewal Nagar ke pas padegaji. WHAT? I should have guessed that Shakti Nagar Sanchaar Haat is not in Shakti Nagar. I give up and ask the rickshawalla to return.

The next day, I think, ok, maybe I should go today, find the location, yeah, near the Gurudwara off Model Town. And then have a new brainwave–surely I should go to the MTNL office in the area I live in currently? So I call the office in my area (Timarpur) — aapko Tis Hazari Sanchaar Haat mein jaana padegaji. Oho. This time I have the forethought to locate the Tis Hazari MTNL office. Right next to the metro station. Hooray. So the next day, Saturday, I set forth, get on the metro, change at Kashmiri Gate (it’s Saturday so the Sangeet Kala Akademi book shop is shut, sigh) and am at the right window, at last.

Very friendly woman at the counter, who helps me with all the form-filling, number of photographs needed, the kind of ID’s required — my work ID will not work; how could I forget that the telephone bill is evidence of residential address?! So she suggests that I apply for the replacement SIM card first using my passport as ID and proof of address and do the change of address later. Oh no! I start exclaiming, as she quickly adds that I’d have to come the next working day anyway for the new SIM card. Why ever? Apply karna padta hai ji … and the response to the application comes after one day, yes, of course. How could I forget that the pace of life is rather slower in the MTNL world? I remember. I am reconciled. I return after a couple of days. I collect my card. Do ghante ke baad phone chalegaa aur ek din ke baad SMS; in fact the phone works within 30 minutes, not 2 hours, and texting kicks in shortly after that.

So this story is a straightforward one, one for the record, rather than anything else….and to note that things have changed a bit.

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