TRIVANDRUM — I’ve always thought of India as the land where technology problems are solved. With so much American outsourcing to India, it’s common to call for tech support for various mobile devices, computer systems, Internet troubleshooting – and reach an Indian call center.
So before arriving in Kerala, we were all under the impression that Internet, tablet data, Wi-Fi and general computer availability would be readily accessible and the signal connection would be strong.
As it turns out, that’s not really the case.
Like several members of my Rotary team, I need daily Internet accessibility. I thought I’d be secure with the international data plan I purchased for my iPad a few days before leaving for India, but even that has failed me daily.
Finding suitable Internet has been troubling and frustrating even with an international data plan. And when it is working, it never works the way I need.
My data either doesn’t connect, says it’s connecting and doesn’t or won’t allow access to certain websites and functions because it doesn’t recognize the foreign IP address.
Then, when it does connect, it’s slow. It’s slower than slow. There’s no streaming. There’s no Skype. There’s lengthy uploading of photos and videos where you have to stand by the computer in a continuous “refresh” stance to ensure the computer tries the upload again when there’s an upload failure. This happens daily. And with our heavy schedules, sometimes there’s just no more time to try again.
Then there are the planned and sometimes unplanned power outages in India, at times occurring for hours at a time. So if your battery dies while attempting to use the Internet, you may or may not have to wait an hour for the electricity to turn back on.
I spend more time sorting out Internet issues than actually using the connection. Our team has gone to great lengths and spent many (many, many, many) hours searching by car, bus and on foot for signs of strong Internet connection. We’ve also purchased two SIM cards and netsetters with no luck of accessing private Internet connection.
I’ve never seen so many people on a constant search for Internet access. And all the Indians, who already stare at the group of white people whenever we’re out in public anyway, recognize our determined “must-find-Internet” faces as we walk down the rushed Indian streets.
Last night, three members of my team were up until 1 a.m. trying (for the 100th time) to finish a Prezi presentation we’re supposed to use today during our Rotary district convention in Trivandrum.
Yesterday’s morning power outage, scheduled for 30 minutes, decided to go out for more than four hours. When it finally came on and the Wi-Fi was working, our host family’s Internet data plan reached its capacity, so we had to contact the provider to upgrade the package before we could resume usage. In India, home Internet plans are similar to purchasing data on a mobile phone or tablet.
Then, we had the evening power outage and had to wait another hour for current, or electricity. The presentation wouldn’t download on a first or second attempt, and we all stood by in the “refresh” stance waiting to try again as the download failures popped up on screen. We finally gave up on embedding a very nice video into the end of the presentation because the Wi-Fi continued to time out and shut down. Anyway, we’re off to the District Conference today. And we do finally have a visually pleasing presentation about our experience in India to present to about 1,500 Indian Rotarians in District 3211.
I hope we don’t have any more technical difficulties today, but I now know in India that’s a given.
Until tomorrow, Victoria.
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