A couple of blocks away from where I live, there is this shop which I frequent very often. The shopkeeper, a nice and kind and generous man has been a constant source of cigarettes, colddrink and occasional biscuits for over a year and a half now.
So, this one evening, while I was having mineral water (I find it tasty and refreshing for some reason) I saw a old man cribbing about how he had been given 1 GB 3g, for 250 Rs. from Airtel and now his balance was low and he couldn’t call. The shopkeeper told him, that he had been charged for internet and not talktime. My first impression was that he was a poor old Kannadiga man, who had been ripped and I felt sympathy for him but kept quiet. A little later, I found out that he had a Galaxy Tab 2 gifted to him by his son. At this revelation, I spoke up saying that usually Tabs are used for internet and that is why he was given a 3G pack. To which he said (in English), he didn’t want internet, only a normal talktime pack to talk to his son. I told him to tell the airtel guys that.
He then asked me about whether I was in the engineering college. I said “No no, I was in journalism.” He again repeated his rant about being fleeced. After a helpless silence, he asked the shopkeeper to come to his house and help him with the Tab. The shopkeeper had his shop, and since there was no one he could recommend, he turned to me and said, “You will go?” I was stuck for words. “It’s good no, if you help someone” To which the old man asked, “Where do you live?” I told him. “Oh, I live right next to your building.”
With nothing to do, and sensing no danger, I went to his house. (What a lovely bungalow.) His wife, an old lady was happy to see me, and cut her call saying- “Somebody has come to see me.” The old man introduced me as a friend. I asked for the Tab. And struggled to unlock it.
She then showed me her ID and password. And said, that it had been gifted to her by her son in Saudi Arabia. To which I said, “Ah, for Skype you need 3G. For that you don’t need talktime.” That is why the Airtel guy must have given 3G. “How do you use Skype?”, she asked. I told her that you’ve to create an account and add his son.
After which, I created an account for her. And asked for his son’s ID. She called up his son, and gave me the phone. His son told me that the account had been created and she had been added. And told me that creating many accounts will confuse people. Also, he asked whether I worked for Vodafone or Airtel.
Exhausted, I signed out of Skype after much struggle. (it automatically signed back in, and I was a novice with Tab phones.) And signed in. Thankfully, his son a certain Warren Costa Pereira was online, and I gave him a call. Surprise, surprise- the voice was too low. The old woman, again asked why it was so? I said, I don’t know. I could hear very low Hellos and Can you hear me’s?. Experimenting again, I saw the speaker option. and for the first time heard his wife’s voice. (Very nice it felt.) Then, this son told me to turn the camera on. I did, again after experimenting. Finally, they can talk!
I considered my job done. And, the uncle seeing me silent started to tell me about how he was a research scientist in Mumbai, and had shifted to Manipal. His son too was a research scientist, and was into stem cell research. Both of them were originally from Goa. I told them a bit about my family too. And left after a warm ‘thank you for all your help’. I couldn’t bring myself to say, ‘You’re welcome’ and just nodded my head.
Walking back to my house, I thought how it would make for a blog post, and how good a deed I had done by helping an old and lonely couple talk to their children. Such things do brighten up my day.