Typically getting a SIM card is a simple task. You walk into a phone service store, pay for a SIM card and decide on the plan. It’s not so easy in India. As we are fast learning, some countries are much more foreign to us than others and India seems to fall into this category. So, how do we find a phone store? We ask around at different electronics and phone sales shops, which are numerous, and get referred from one to the next to the next until we are running in circles. Finally, we accidentally stumble upon a phone service store. Halleluiah! “We are looking for SIM cards for our iPhones,” Dave states. “Okay, sir, we will need your travel papers, 4 passport photos, and a local reference. Then we can give you a SIM card, but we can’t activate it until we get verification.” Holy smokes! Wait! What?!
Taking it one step at a time, first we asked where we can get the photos done. “Assam Studio is just down the street. You will see it.” Okay, this is good, I remember seeing it, we stopped in to see if they had adapters for our computers. It was a camera store. We backtracked to the studio and were taken in the back. “What background would you like?” Ummmm, white? They are supposed to be like passport photos. He flipped through backgrounds, passing a really funny rural scene one that gave us ideas to come back for a fun photo shoot later (peeking out from the white drop). Lickety split, we had our photos taken, printed and cut out, and paid 150 Rs for them (about US $2). Photos, check!
We returned to our room to get our passports and then spoke with reception to see if they would be our reference. She said, “We can do that, but we can call some people and have them come to you. We can take care of it here.” Awesome! She called someone who spoke to Dave. Yes, we have photos and passports. Thanks. “We will be there in an hour.” Sweet! Maybe this won’t be as hard as it initially seemed.
Wrong! After waiting 2 ½ hours, we gave up, asked for the reference letter, and walked back to do it on our own. Even with all those items they originally asked for, it wasn’t good enough and they sent Dave back to the hotel again to get personal contact information for the hotel manager. But, in the end, we were successful: we received our SIM cards. However, we had to wait 4 hours before activating it while they ran verifications on us. Finally, just before going to bed, Dave was able to activate them. Success! Task #1 accomplished! After stumbling through all that, then we received this helpful guide (pictured top of page). At least we know we weren’t the only ones to go through it.