Sunday, 18 January 2009

Nuisance Calls

A few weeks ago, on a walk around Kovalam Beach, I met an Indian woman called Bini. She was acting as a guide for a Norwegian bloke and I only spoke to her because children from SISP had latched onto them. This is something the beach children tend to do because by mixing with relatively wealthy foreigners they sometimes get given gifts like pens, a few rupees, chocolate or clothes. I know for a fact that they get given clothes, but they're never seen wearing them, probably because their parents sell them or because they attract more sympathy if they look poor. Anyway, Bini was in her thirties and had studied English to Masters level, so she said, and was looking for a teaching job. I told her what I did at SISP and we exchanged phone numbers so that I could contact her if a job came up at the school. For a few weeks there was nothing, then I started getting phone calls. The phone would ring once or twice and then stop. Immediately after one of these calls I rang back, and my call went unanswered despite letting it ring for ages. Then I got another couple of brief rings, and that evening I got a text from her. It said exactly:
"Hai how are u ? Do u remember me .I have met u in kovalam. Gud night dear."
I didn't reply. Nor have I answered the numerous brief phone calls I've had since, some just one ring long. I think/hope she's taken the hint now. If you had a Masters in English wouldn't your standard of SMS-ing be higher? No one calls you "dear" in their first message, least of all an Indian woman, unless they want something. What's with the crazy brief phone calls - unless she wants me to phone her back because she has no credit? She sounds like a nutter to me.

[Update: the calls finally stopped 7 months later. Yes, seriously!]

I use Airtel as my phone provider. They must have sold my number on because I am constantly pestered by advertisers. Now, if I bother checking at all, I just look at the number and don't answer. Or I'll pick up but don't listen. If I'm in a noisy classroom, as I often am, I try to imagine the response of the caller. Trouble is, it's often an automated voice, but then at least it will have cost them something for disturbing me. But most often I just ignore the calls. One other problem is that the signal strength in my house is very variable so, if I do notice a call I want to answer, I have to rush outside with my handset.

Airtel gave me a number to send a "START DO NOT DISTURB" message to, and I used it as soon as I registered with them but it just bounced back some code and I wasn't able to figure out what to do with it. Same thing happened several times. But I've just tried yet again and this time they tell me I have been successful (yippee!) and the nuisance calls will stop ... in 45 days' time (D'oh!)

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