If you go to the Tata Docomo website to look for the locations of their “brand stores”, this is what the company exhorts you to do:
Pray. Dance. Skip. Seek guidance. Protect your loved ones. Play. Study. Stay safe. Create stories. Share. And of course, talk.
It is worth noting that “Connect to the internet” is not among the things you can do, by their own admission. That said, Tata Docomo’s USB-powered connection is actually very reliable and perfectly adequate for all my internet needs, horrifying and incredible as it may sound to young, wired-on-3G youth like young Leo. The problem with this setup, however, is the absence of backup. So when I manage to break the USB that connects me to the internet into two — how, you ask? With great panache — I’m in a bit of spot.
So I pray, I don’t dance, but I do skip to the nearby Tata Docomo brand store and seek their guidance. Behold the exchange that follows.
Tata man: Hello madam.
Tata man: How I can help you?
Me: I’ve managed to break my USB-dongle-thing. (places two-piece USB-dongle-thingie on the kitchen counter-like table that is between the two of us.)
Tata man: Ok. We can replace it. What is your hardware?
Me: I’m sorry?
Tata man: Tablet, laptop, what?
Me: Oh. Mac, I use a Macbook.
Tata man: Oh no. (looks at the Tata man behind him, wide-eyed with despair.)
(The other Tata man grimaces in response, shakes his head and clucks his tongue.)
Me: This is a problem?
Tata man: We have a system called EC156 —
(The other Tata man makes noises like he’s trying to communicate with a gecko.)
Tata man: (turns to the other Tata man) Oh. We have?
(The other Tata man closes his eyes slowly and tilts his head to the right, while bobbing twice on his seat.)
Tata man: (turns back to me) Ok, madam. That will be Rs 750. We can replace. No problem.
Me: That’s great. I’ll pay by cash.
Tata man: What ID you’ll submit?
Tata man: PAN, passport, Aadhaar card, driving license —
Me: Right, yes, ID, I know what it is. I’m afraid I don’t have any ID on me right now. I didn’t realise I needed to show ID to get the dongle replaced.
Tata man: But of course, madam. It is the system everywhere. We cannot let anybody just have your dongle because they want it.
Me: But you have copies of my ID in your system. I gave them to you when I applied for this connection.
Tata man: Yes, madam. But that was then. Now is different.
Me: Yes, it is, I get that. But you can open up my file and see that I’m the same person. I’ll sign for the new one so that you have a record of asking for a replacement.
Tata man: We cannot do like that. What is the proof that you are you?
Me: Like I said, I’ll sign for it.
Tata man: That is ok but it means nothing. You could be forging. (smiles apologetically)
Me: You’re saying that if I sign for the replacement in front of you, that won’t prove I’m me but if I give you a photocopy of ID, that will?
Tata man: Yes. Then we can give replacement. But we must know what you are first.
Me: Look, I don’t have any ID at the moment but I need the replacement. So how do we do this?
Tata man: You can get ID from home.
Me: I need to get to work so I can’t go home and get my ID now.
Tata man: Ok. You can send it with someone. Maybe driver or servant?
Me: Wait. You’ll give the replacement to someone who just shows up with a copy of my ID?
Tata man: Yes surely.
Me: But you won’t give it to me?
Tata man: What if you are not really you?
Me: Is your name Sartre?
Tata man: Pardon, madam?
Me: Never mind. Why isn’t my signature enough proof of my identity? Isn’t that more reliable than ID? ID can be forged very easily. Photocopies are even easier to forge. A signature, particularly when it’s signed in front of you, is way more reliable.
Tata man: Madam, how you know all this?
Me: How do I know signatures are reliable?
Tata man: No. About forgery.
Me: I’ve been reading spy novels for years. (grins)
Tata man: You are a spy?
Me: (unsmiles) No! No. I’m a journalist.
Tata man: I see. (pushes the two-piece dongle back to my side) I’m afraid without a copy of your ID, nothing can be done.
So now I have no internet at home and my neighbourhood Tata Docomo brand store thinks I’m a spy.