Vantage point

Thursday, January 20, 2005

STD Booths in USA

There is a need to have STD booths in USA. No no, I am not talking about cubicles where prostitutes have unprotected sex with their clients. I am talking about the telephone booths we have in India.

A lot of convenience of having humans do a job is lost in the highly automated West. So you install phones with menus, and come out with calling cards so that you don't need to have a guy manning public phones. But it makes things darned inconvenient for a visitor.

I for instance, came here armed with a calling card number with a balance of $3, given to me by Satyen. At 5 cents a minute for local calls, I thought it should suffice for a few days. But I ran out of the balance in just 2 calls! Turns out the charges are different if you call from a public phone.

Now if I have to call India, again I need a calling card. The normal ones cost like $1 a minute. The Reliance ones are cheao but getting them is a bit of a pain sincde they ask you your phone number.

I miss the convenience of STD booths in India, where you walk into one anywhere in the country, make a call, the meter shows you the charges you are incurring and the operator answers any questions you have about rates.