Day two of our summer in Bangalore and jet lag has us in its grip. We woke up at 7:30 AM with bright eyes and boundless optimism. By 2:00 PM our eyes were shutting against our will. In the hours in between, however, we cooked fried eggs in our own kitchen, drank our first cup of tea of the morning, and walked to the cell phone shop to get sim cards for our phones.
Shopping for sim cards has always been a fun adventure for me in India. Despite all of the modern malls and phone stores here in Bangalore, many cell phones are still purchased from a tiny space wedged in between a tailor and a food market, for example. Today was no exception. We arrived just as the young man was opening the shop, which measured about three feet by five feet. At the start of business he rolled up the metal door and wheeled the counter out to face the street. It was an incredibly efficient use of space!
He went over the different options with us and placed the new sim cards in our phones. As he did so ten or more other customers came by asking for refills on their minutes. He switched easily back and forth between all of us, multitasking without issue. This little shop seemed to be the hub of that street, and it filled me with joy at the way India can be consistent and evolving at the same time. I remember stopping in tiny shops like this one ten years ago in Mumbai or Varanasi. I like that the culture holds on to the things that work well, like purchasing from small businesses. Yet India is defined by its pluralism, and many businesses offer ultra-modern technology and services. India is changing in its own way, not to be a mirror of the West – contrary to popular belief. And I’m glad, because I always look forward to shopping for my sim card at the tiny shop.
Now I just hope that jet lag departs quickly. We look forward to many more interesting days in Bangalore! Stay tuned.
Photo source: bbc.co.uk