Indian Jugaad

Indian Jugaad

On a recent visit abroad I avoided using the phone to save on roaming charges.

On a visit from the US three years ago, my  nephew was using an IPhone. I made admiring comments about the gadget. ‘Can I gift it to you chacha Ji?’ he offered the next day. My avuncular pride made me decline. When even his entreaty that I should move with the times failed, he said, ‘Actually, on return to the US, I will migrate to a newer version and this will be thrown away.’ I gave in to this compelling logic.   

I paid a negotiated-down price of Rs 3,200 for getting it ‘opened’ to the Indian operating system; the ‘jail break’ as the technician said. As time passed I got used to its convenience. Two years later, a neighbour’s son volunteered to sync it with my computer. In the process the phone got locked again. I was dreading the huge expenditure when he told me to take it to the Gafaar market in Karol Bagh, where they charge much less. I found this to be a wonderful place where Indian IT is in full flow. Roadside kiosks in hundreds are always crowded with customers. My problem was solved. I also became acquainted with Surinder Singh.   

Some months later the neighbour once again offered to update my phone.  This time all the contact numbers were lost; only names remained. When close acquaintances called and I enquired who it was, some were visibly put off. Even Surinder could not retrieve the numbers as my IPhone 3G does not have a link with ‘cloud’, which automatically stores all Apple data. I tried recreating the contacts slowly; a painful exercise. On a recent visit abroad I avoided using the phone to save on exorbitant roaming charges.  When we landed back I could receive calls and exchange messages, but could not call out.  Frustrated, I went back to my friend in Gafaar market. 

Surinder, like thousands other Indian young, self-acquired his technical knowhow. Since my last visit he has rented his own kiosk and has employed three assistants. The place is really tiny; if a six-foot tall man were to sleep there, he could fit in only diagonally, if then. I sat by him on a stool as he worked. He first stored my data in his computer.

Conversationally, he swore by the IPhone, though I wonder if I can empirically share his enthusiasm. ‘I had bought a rival some months back,’ he told me ‘but it started giving problem from day one.’  Then he shared its technical secret.

‘Whenever on full charge, the phone shuts down. Once while charging it in the train I slept off. When I awoke the phone was lifeless.’ Perhaps observing a concerned look on my face he explained. ‘I borrowed a hairpin from a lady traveller and short-circuited to reduce charge in the battery. Thereafter it worked balle balle.’ Long live Indian jugaad; Late Steve Jobs would have saluted Surinder.

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