Friday, October 17, 2008

My journey to get a net connection

“That’s it, no more delays”, said my roomie. It was three months since we moved in and we still didn’t have a net connection at home. Every weekend we would simply tinker around the idea and leave it at that. We were staying in Chennai – the land of SEZs flooded with software companies and each of us was among the so called techies of the city. Sadly for us, we didn’t have the liberty to even check our mails. All around us were computers but nothing of our interest could be done with them.
So we decided enough was enough. After having explored all the democratic options around us (the various private companies), we decided to go after our very own bsnl – Our desi reliable company – where cost meets the needy. Off we went in search of the Bsnl office. Now, I must say, though I stay in Chennai, this part of the city is yet to grow up. With a couple of townships and SEZs around, it’s surely catching up, but not just yet. It took us nearly half an hour to locate this gem of an office. Whoever we ask would only show us a straight hand saying its right there. After doing a couple of rounds of a couple of 50m stretches of road, we finally found it. The way people around directed us, we thought we would never miss it – “At the end of the road, you’ll find that big building.” Now the word big obviously was relative and we took a beating here.
Anyways, finally we found it. A two storey building with a small placard hanging on one side -“BSNL office”; finally, we are going to have our broadband connection.. After the usual wait and queries before a government office, we are done with the formalities. Apparently, we could not get broadband as that facility stops right before our street. So we had to settle for a WLL connection which the guy assured us would provide us with speed upwards of 144kbps and it would easily touch 200kbps. Unlimited, he said. Now that really cheered us up; whatever the speed, we can simply keep it on download and go, what the hek; still a good deal we thought. Now came the first catch, we can’t pay the bill there. We were supposed to pay at the post office. They wouldn’t accept any of our bills. Everything had to be rooted through the post office. Talk of promoting sister concerns!
We were just about to leave when the gentleman officer asked for his processing fee which obviously was off the record. You can call me and give me the receipt number once you pay the bill; he declared, making his intentions very clear. All right, at least we get the work done we thought. How long does this take sir? I asked before leaving. A week, at the max 10 days sir, came the prompt reply. “Wow”, we thought to ourselves. These government agencies are really catching up huh!! Progress we thought…
Now, after we pay the bill, we keep calling our gentleman officer but now he can’t quite remember his processing fee. He wants the receipt hand delivered. The next weekend, we hand him the receipt. How much longer sir? A week, at the max 10 days sir, says the fainted voice. So you haven’t even started moving in our direction? “How can I without your bill.” Yah right, like as though this was the oxygen for that.
Anyhow, we got a hold of our patience. At least we’ll have a connection in a fortnight.
One week past, two, three and then a month; no sign of our connection; all this while we make continuous calls to the office and each time we call, the first time we’ll be welcomed with a big “vanakkam” and a hello. “We’ll get back to you sir” or “I’ll call you back sir” would be their only response.
Finally, one Saturday the voice at the other end assures us that today would be the last day of our wait. She gives us a number and reassures us that a person would come before dusk. Sure enough, a man along with two of his assistants walks into our house in the evening. Finally, we’ll have our connection from today. But lo, the man had other plans. He comes with a big box in his hand. And after coming, he opens the box as thought it was some treasure and takes out the priced device out of it. “This is your phone” he announces. “We only need your password now. I’ll get that tomorrow so will come and fix it the next day”, he says. Now, what the hek, he actually had to come all the way merely to give us the dumb phone!!! Not quite coz before he leaves he clears all confusion. “Sir, do you want to help these boys out. Would you like to give them something?” Now whom he was referring to as boys was two lads sticking around him. Hoping that at least he would get the job done fast, we give him a 100. “Thank you sir. Tomorrow for sure.” That was when we last got to see of him.
Now we are actually waiting for the password. The old exercise of trying the bsnl no: continues. Again we have the same old lady welcoming us with a big hello but this time around once she learns of our identity she makes no mistake and does not get anywhere e close to the phone after that. Finally after some relentless tries, we get her. Mam, can we have the password pls? “Well.. I am trying to contact pondicherry for that. It’s still not ready. I’ll call you as soon as it’s done.” Lest you get confused, we are talking about a simple password to log in here. The password had to come all the way from Pondicherry!!! Phew!! So much for development!!!
Now after a good no: of weeks of continuous pestering, we get the password. And no prize for guessing - It’s our telephone no:. :D. She needed a month’s time to figure this out…
Okay, at least today we have our connection – we say to ourselves. We come home early to check out our new connection. Username, Password and then connect now. Connecting, verifying…. Connection established. Hurray! We finally have our own connection. Oh oh! Wait a minute. We don’t have the pages opening. We take it easy and start waiting. After a long wait, we get the window. The google window takes a couple of mintues (read as quarter of an hour) to logon. Don’t even think of the rest.
Mind you, we’ve been provided with high speed Unlimited Internet Connection.
Now, we have a phone and a connection which makes it impossible for you to surf.
So much for India’s IT revolution…. Just to remind you, we were supposed to get the whole thing done in a week’s time… BSNL – truly a Government office….


-=A.R.N.=- said...

This is really the most stupid thing I hate about our pathetic country...the endless bureaucracy, especially at government offices inspite of the bribes they rake in.
I remember having to fight nearly a month for cable TV while I was still in Chennai.

Comparing this with what I have now:
It took me just 20min to walk into the T-Mobile store and walk out with wireless broadband on a 2yr contract!
All they needed was a copy of my passport (they made the copy themselves...I only had the passport) and my bank account number.

I came home, plugged in the PCI, and was online in half an hour. I now surf at 2Mbps :D

issam said...

I so really envy you for that noor..
But, the private players ere are good... Like teh Tata ppl... who call you and come to your house to give you a demo... and stuff like that... only that in this part of the town, i didn't have much options and the tata one was way too expensive.... so was forced to settle for the bsnl one...

Saurabh said...

Hmmm... Good journey.

I had to wait for two months to get a password for my connection! My life was hell those days.

Are you still using that 200 kbps conncection you mention in the post?

issam said...

Very much saurabh... Deprived of other options you see.. And it shows connected @ 233 kbps :D
But then, you have to give them credie coz it does work decent when you operate in non peak hours(after midnight and before sunrise :D)