Posted by: Basu Ghosh in travel, telecom, internet on
Jan 13, 2009
While I was traveling in India during November and December in 2008 I brought my iPhone along. Before I left for the trip I called AT&T to get my International roaming activated and also bought the $200 data package, that would allow me to transfer a total of 200MB of data, both upload and download. Not having used the iPhone outside of the country before, I was very skeptical that my iPhone would work at all and I will be able to receive my e-mails without being on the phone with iPhone tech support for an ungodly number of hours. As it turns out my fear was mostly unfounded. When I turned on the iPhone in Singapore it did not work before I realized I had not turned on the Data Roam option on the iPhone. Once that was done the iPhone worked flawlessly just about everywhere I went - Singapore, Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta), and Midnapore (a technologically backward town 100 miles from Kolkata). It even switched carrier automatically from Airtel to Vodaphone in the middle the train ride from Kolkata to Midnapore. The fact the iPhone worked through the train ride just amazed me. Think about it, right in the heart of this 1 million habitat San Fernando Valley, California, how many cell service holes do we find ourselves in the middle of? How often do we get dropped in the middle of conversation while driving on 101 or 405? I felt through out my trip like I was in Calabasas, connected to everyone 24/7. The world got so much smaller, thanks to the cell networks and the iPhone.
The connectivity was great, but a couple of incidents really brought home the power and value of this 24/7 connection:
Incident 1: I was about 7 days into my trip. I am still in Midnapore visiting my sisters. I am still suffering from jetlag and not sleeping that well. Since I am about 12 hours apart from PST, I would get e-mails and text messages all through day and night. So I kept my iPhone right by my bed, and check e-mail as I they arrive all though the night since I was not able to sleep that well as yet. So here I was half asleep, inside a mosquito net, in Midnapore at about 3:40 AM in the morning I get this text message from a friend that said: " ". I had no idea what she was talking about. I watched on TV until about 10:30 PM, saw India beat England and crawled inside the mosquito net trying to go to sleep. The world was perfectly normal and tranquil then. There was no news of anything out of the ordinary. Remember, 24 hour news has arrived in India with a vengeance and there is no shortage of news channels on the cable dial. So I respond to the text message that essentially says: " ". Within minutes I receive two similar e-mails, first one from my personal trainer Jon, that said "Are you ok?", and a second e-mail from Robin Borough that said "I just saw an article in the NYT about attacks in Mumbai... is everything ok where you are?". Then I realized what my friend was asking on the text message. So hurriedly I went on the NY Times site to read about the attack and find out what had started. The fact that I could read NY Times at 3:40 AM in the morning in Midnapore inside a mosquito net and find out what had been happening in Mumbai, when most of India was still sleeping and unaware of the terrorist attack in Mumbai was amazing. Ironically and sadly the early edition of the Cacutta Telepgraph, the edition that gets delivered to Midnapore in the morning missed the incident completely and had no mention of the incident when I read it the following morning. Thank God for the iPhone.