Sunday, July 19, 2009

Signing contracts in Nepal

Today I finally managed to drag myself to a store an get a SIM card and mobile phone since only being reachable when I was online got a bit tiresome in terms of arranging meetings with people. (On a side note: I’m really quite unhappy that my regular Austrian phone is SIM locked and that the fine folks over at T-Mobile Austria don’t even have a roaming partner here in Nepal!)

Anyway, since yesterday’s attempt to get connected failed as I needed my passport and a photo (both of which I didn’t have on me) I went back there today and thought that things should go smoothly. However as it turns out one copy of my password, what the staff had told me yesterday, wasn’t enough so one of the guys working in the shop accompanied me to a copy-shop where we got another copy. Returning to the store it turns out that I’d also need a copy of my visa which they had of course forgotten to mention earlier…

However the real fun began once I started to fill out the forms in order to get my SIM card. Not being all that enthusiastic when it comes to forms to begin with I obviously ended up not filling in some of the information. So when the shop clerk subsequently inquired about my father’s name I was slightly surprised to say the least. It was only after a short chuckle on my part which was quickly ended by a very serious look by the clerk that I realized that she was serious. And to top it off the form also asked for my grandfather’s name, luckily I managed to resist the temptation to ask whether they wanted the one from my father’s side or mother’s side.

The next challenge presented itself when they asked me where I lived. Since there basically are no addresses here in Nepal you normally describe you location relative to the nearest chowk (a street corner in most cases). However I quickly realized that trying to describe where I lived was a pretty pointless endeavor. I do find my way walking around the neighborhood and manage to tell cab drivers where to go. But explaining to someone who speaks very broken English where exactly you live without actually walking or driving along the road is beyond my capabilities. So after some deliberation by the shop clerks the field, which understandably covers a third of a page, remained empty.

Next up I was asked to sign the contract at three different spots, funnily enough one signature was required to confirm the information of where I lived. Thinking I was done it took me awhile to realize that the inkpads suddenly laying on the table were waiting for me. So I confirmed the contract with fingerprints from my left and right thumb (US immigration anyone?). And just when I thought everything was over I was again asked to sign something, this time the photo which was attached to the application form.

So 30min after I walked into the store I left it being 1000 Rupees poorer, having thumbs with blue ink that probably won’t come off for a few days but proudly owning a SIM card.

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