A few days had passed and my sim card still hadn’t successfully connected to a network, I felt this meant the processing of the sim that Mr Choudhry helped me get hadn’t been successful, which was not good.
I came across a small town that had a hotel in it. A nice hotel compared to most I had been in and I got indoors with AC. My ear was happy for the change as the humidity was not helping its situation. There were two guys that worked on the reception and I, in my best Hindi/English mixture, explained my situation and they pointed me in the direction of a phone shop.
I got my self down to the shop straight away and explained that I needed a sim card. The guy there was great and could speak English which helped immensely as the technical speak about options of sims, tariffs and pricing was never going to work with my limited skills. we sat for a while and eventually he explained my sim hadn’t been activated because the Indian sponsor I used to register, wasn’t from Assam but Delhi. I in fact needed a local sponsor. He explained that the state had lots of extremists who register hundreds of sims in order to communicate with each other so that was the reason.
I felt like I had hit another brick wall. I sat for a while, as he served the ever growing number of customers that had been waiting and the odd few that were just sat there because a stranger had come to town and people had seen me walking through.
I was trying to think of a way I could get a local sponsor. It came to me, I told him I would be right back, the reception guys! They seemed like nice guys, so I thought I could ask them. I got back to the hotel and sat around reception talking, laughing and joking with them, then hit them with the question. They went silent, both looked at each other and back at me and said they couldn’t… I was back to square one.
I walked back to the phones shop with my tail between my legs and told the phone shop guy they wouldn’t do it and to throw away the sim application papers I had half filled out. He offered me a conciliatory cup of tea so I accepted. We sat talking about what I was doing for about 20 minutes and talked about his family. By the time we had finished our tea, he turned to me and said “look, what you’re doing is incredible and I want to help, I will be your sponsor, I’ve filled out the paperwork already, lets go have dinner with my family and by the time its done, your sim will be ready”. He could see the grin on my face and as we started walking to the back of his shop to enter his house he told me I better like saag (spinach) because its all that’s been made. I told him its my favourite.
I was introduced to his family. His wife, his mother, mother in law, children, brother and even his brothers in laws. They lived together spread over two bungalows divided by a long corridor the length of each apartment. After spending a few hours there eating and talking, he left and came back in the room with a functioning sim card and told me that he had it registered at the local office as well, which meant I didn’t have to wait for 2 days, but instead it would be working by the evening. It was starting to get dark by now so I decided to head back to the hotel. And as I was getting ready to leave, they presented me with a gift, a tea towel and some food to take away with me. I was overwhelmed by their kindness having only known them for the afternoon, but I said my goodbyes, had some pictures taken and made a move back to the hotel. That night I caught up on news in bed, and fell asleep reading.
As I slowly came through from my night of sleep, I made my usual slow realisation of where I was and the calm serene morning was made better by the following realisation that I now had a functioning sim. Then it was suddenly sent into disarray as the whole room began to violently shake! Laying on my back on the bed I was taken aback and sat up to see the windows rattling in the frames and screams emanating from outside the room.