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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Since deciding to visit India after our Nepal stay is over, we’ve faced a series of challenges that lead me to believe that India may actively be trying to keep us out.

Challenge #1: The Visa Process

Getting an Indian visa is a lot like a trip to the DMV, but slightly more painful. The office for applications is open only from 9:30am to 12pm. We arrived early, but not early enough – we were still numbers 55 and 56 in line. And, although the office opens at 9:30, the ticket counter apparently doesn’t open until 9:45. Or maybe 10:00. Or, really, whenever they feel like it.

On top of that, there are four ticket counters at the visa service center, which sounds promising. And with a line of 50+, you’d expect at least two of them would be open. Even the DMV would concede that much.

But not Nepal’s Indian visa service center.

There was one ticket counter open to process applications. One counter was open to process payments. And with no visa costs posted anywhere, there was a backup in the payment line since people had to keep leaving to hit up an ATM.

Did I mention it was cash only?

This was all just step one in the visa process.

  • In step one, you pay.
  • In step two, you find out if your application was accepted, what kind of visa you get (which may or may not be what you requested), and you leave your passport with them.
  • In step three, you collect your passport and visa in utter chaos, because during the pickup hours the ticket dispenser doesn’t work.

You know what, though, India? We did it. We got your stupid visa, and paid more for it because we’re American. Fine.

But wait. There’s more.

Challenge #2: Booking a Flight

The flight from Kathmandu to Delhi should take less than two hours and be direct. We found one we liked (the only one for less than $100 per person) and proceeded to checkout. Except…the credit card was declined. So was the check card and the backup credit card, all of which have travel alerts set AND sufficient funds.

What they don’t have is membership in “visa verify,” which is apparently a very popular verification program among Indian airlines. So maybe that one’s on our banks and not India.

But that didn’t make it any more fun to find the airline office and go book our flight in person – with cash.

Challenge #3: Booking Trains in India

Before this trip I reached out to a friend who had lived in and traveled through India. She recommended using Cleartrip to book trains, and, thus far, I’ve found its listing of the train schedules super helpful. I’d even found the train to get us from Delhi to Agra and was ready to book.

Not so fast.

In order to use Cleartrip, you have to register with Indian Railways IRCTC. In order to do that, you need an Indian cell number and address.

If you don’t have those things, you need to scan and send a copy of your passport. Then you need to send another email requesting that Cleartrip email you a password instead of texting it.

After all that, you can book your train tickets online. But only if you have American Express. (We don’t.)

We will get all of this sorted out eventually. Maybe before we get there, maybe not. But either way, I’m not really feeling the love from India.

And if they keep this up, they won’t feel the love from me, either.

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You know how when you call the credit card company or your insurance agency, the automated system usually tells you, this call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes?

I always assumed those purposes were quality service.

Yesterday I called my insurance company to find out their policy on covering vaccinations (for Nepal). I knew it was highly unlikely, but wanted to cover all my bases. So I asked.

Insurance rep: “No, we don’t usually cover vaccines. Which ones are you looking for?

Me: “Well, one is rabies…

Insurance rep: “Oh, you were bitten?

Me: “No, it’s preventative.

IR: “They don’t do preventative.

Me: “Oh, well, I actually just talked to my doctor, and he said that they do.

IR: “No. They don’t do preventative rabies shots around here.

Me: “It’s for international travel.

IR: “Ha!* Well now this call is recorded as you saying it’s for travel and we definitely don’t cover shots for international travel.

*It might have been more “ah!” than “ha!” but there was no mistaking the excitement in her voice. 

At this point, I knew it was a done deal, but I was curious about one more thing.

Me: “Oh, okay. So…you don’t even cover polio boosters? I thought I read something about getting a booster every 10 years.

IR: “Ma’am, I’ve already recorded you saying it’s for international travel, so, no.

Me: “Listen, I’m not trying to be sneaky. I was just looking for information. But thanks for your help.

And I hung up.

Perhaps that wasn’t the mature way to handle it.

But at that point I was done being recorded.

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I’ve never shared my maiden name on this blog – perhaps because I’m still trying to maintain the illusion of some privacy – but I can tell you that it is unique. Chances are, if you know it, I’m the only one you know with it – or, at least, my family is.

My maiden name is also fairly long, and gave friends and teachers a run for their money in trying to pronounce it as I was growing up – all of which led to an inevitable nickname.

Early on in my junior year in high school, a particularly scatter-brained teacher took one look at me, one look at my name on roll call (which he’d already been using for the first few weeks of the year), and asked me, incredulously, “What’s your name again?

And before my shy, 16-year-old self could pipe up, Chris, in the desk next to mine, chimed in: “Her name’s Epod.

(I know what you’re thinking. No, iPods had not been released yet. I promise you.)

The teacher nodded distractedly and went back to roll call. Apparently Epod was much easier to remember than my full name, because he didn’t ask again for the rest of the year. And not only did the nickname stick, but it spread. Not just to friends, but to other teachers, too.

And then it spread to groups outside of high school, even without my introducing it. First my camp friends started calling me Epod, and then it somehow found its way first to college, then to DC.

My parents even used it on the sign they made, when they visited for my first half-marathon. But that might have been a space issue, too.

I was never bothered by it. As far as nicknames go, Epod’s pretty tame.

I just never realized how attached other people got to it.

The most prevalent question I got after the wedding had nothing to do with how the wedding went, what married life was like, or even about the honeymoon.

It was, far and away: “Wait! If you’re changing your name, can we still call you Epod?

Honestly, it never even occurred to me that anyone would stop.

Besides, do you know how hard it is to break a nickname habit?

I don’t think I could change it if I wanted to.

So it’s a good thing I don’t.

*There’s still sometimes confusion. Most recently when a leader at camp came up to ask me a question, and had apparently misunderstood the nickname. That’ll happen.

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Relationship:
noun
3. the mutual dealings, connections, or feelings that exist between two parties, countries, people, etc.

(That’s my own emphasis, by the way, because I think that’s important.)

I have always been under the impression that in order to be in a relationship, both parties should know about and agree to said status. It’s just good sense.

That definition was challenged, however, after my friend Hbomb shared a series of emails she’d exchanged with GQ – after she’d had the “friend talk” with him multiple times, and was clarifying that status after a mixed signals weekend.

GQ:

I freaking adore you. I say that as both a coworker, an ex, and even more-so as a friend…And I say all this as a friend. Our relationship was oh-so brief because, at the end of the day, it wasn’t meant to be. But our friendship? OMG…I called you that before we ever flirted with a relationship, and continued after.

Hbomb:

Well, this is a little awkward…I wasn’t aware that we were ever in a relationship, unless you meant relationship in the very broad, non-romantic sense, e.g. I have a “relationship” with my boss, my mom, my roommate, etc. To me, being in a relationship, romantically speaking, only occurs after two people have a conversation where they both agree that they are going to exclusively date each other. And we never even came close to discussing anything like that as far as I know, so I don’t see how you can consider me an ex…

GQ:

I used the word relationship because there was an oh-so-fleeting moment when I felt a spark of “something”– maybe it was an unrequited crush–for what must’ve been one week late last summer.

Hold on just a second. An unrequited crush can count as a relationship? The mere feeling of a potential spark? That can make someone an ex?

Well, shoot.

By my definition, I haven’t had too many full on relationships. A handful, here and there, plus, you know, the one super big one that I’m in right now (and forever!). But by GQ’s definition…

There was that one major unrequited crush from the seventh grade – I’m hoping only major crushes count, not minor ones – then a string of them throughout high school. You know how teenagers are.

There was that guy in my Italian class four years ago – I thought there was a spark. We never went out (or talked outside of class except on the walk to our respective homes), but apparently, he’s my ex.

And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Should I count the lacrosse players I ogled in college? Or the blind dates I was set up on for sorority formals?

This list could get long.

And we haven’t even started on celebrities yet.

Though, by what other definition could I call Sawyer my ex?

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As a Conflict Resolution student, and an International Affairs nerd in general, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about methods of reconciliation. And the constant trend is that there can be no reconciliation without an airing of truths.

Then I started about thinking about what truths of my own I would air, and remembered a couple years ago, when I did just that – and how freeing it was.

So why not give it another shot?

I know that we don’t speak anymore and, let’s be honest, we were never really friends, but I am truly sorry for what you’re going through. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

You’re not as important as you think you are, so please help out when we ask for it.

I understand your desire to want to practice French. I want to do that, too. But you sound pretentious when you do it right in the middle of an English conversation.

I am honestly impressed with your networking skills. But I still won’t ask your advice because I don’t trust you.

I didn’t tell you I’d be in Chicago because you had already let several emails go unanswered. And that’s okay. I hope you and J are doing well.

I really wish you hadn’t moved.

It drives me crazy how we always seem to work according to your timetable. You talk about friendship like it’s an unbreakable bond, but you’d never know it the way you cancel every plan we’ve ever had.

I’m so excited for the both of you! And I can’t wait until May!

Please stop using Facebook as a weapon. You are far too old for that shit.

There may not be any reconciliation to these truths – whether because it’s not needed or will just never happen – but the truth-telling on its own can work wonders.

Maybe I should try this on a regular basis.

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The setting: history class.

The discussion: why study history?

The players: in addition to the general class, there’s the Smug Just Graduated Undergrad and Think I Know Everything guy, and there’s Professor K. Who, by the by, looks like this:

Anywho, the conversation:

SmugJGU: Is it even relevant to study history anymore? And if it is, how do you get more people to want to do it? It’s BORING on the middle school and high school levels, and most teachers don’t even care about it! In fact, the same guy that’s teaching you history is probably just a high school football coach. [turns to the professor, who just finished his history dissertation, by the way, and has told us about it] How do we get history to be interesting?

Professor K: Well, this is my job – I clearly already think it’s interesting. [beat] I also coached high school football for a couple years, and taught history classes.

SmugJGU: Uh…

Good luck, buddy. That was only week two of class.

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I don’t know if you’ve seen those new tampon commercials yet. If not, here you go (and if you only watch one, watch the second one):

I kind of love them. The sarcasm in the first one is pretty much what every woman has felt at one point or another during the old commercials. And the second one, well, I love a good social experiment.

Maybe today’s tampon day!”

Now, I toyed with the idea of reenacting that, in the name of the blog, to see if those were typical results. But really, 1) I’m not that bold yet, and 2) I’m 95% sure there wouldn’t be much difference in the responses. Generally, guys+tampons=uncomfortable.

But here’s the question: what’s the male equivalent of tampons? Something that women might not even want to say out loud, much less go in and buy?

I suggested condoms (I will buy them, I just don’t like it), but I know that doesn’t hold true across the board.

What do you think – is there a male equivalent? Or do women have the “uncomfortable product” market covered?

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