Last month I attended Conference tour of Egypt organized by our Association.Tour was conducted by reputed tour organizer from Mumbai.Ours was of group of some 110 or so Medical Consultants from Mumbai,and many are owner of small Nursing Homes in Mumbai.Few of us had Mobile Roaming facility, rest depended on Phone service in Egypt. Now Egypt has good Telecom facility.With so many visitors from Europe,UK,USA and different parts of world, this is not surprising. We purchased Calling Cards from shop in our Hotel in Cairo.But things are not as simple as it appears. With so many companies operating in Cairo,its difficult to find Kiosk having phone whose card you posses. Ofcourse most of the public places have phone kiosk but during tour or while visiting a monument you don't have enough time to search for a particular phone.Since you don't know the pulse rate and charges,suddenly in middle of conversation you are cut off.. At that odd hour its almost impossible to find store selling phonecard. Few had purchased calling cards of Airtel from Mumbai airport,they had to purchase phone card of Egyptian company to call local number, then punch in card number and then punch in home telephone number..You need someone to prompt the 16 digit number or you are going to miss out or punch a wrong number and have to start all over again.Sometimes it was frustrating.
My experience in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur,Singapore or US /UK is no different.Then one realises the ease with which a visitor can make Local/STD/ISD call in India.Thanks to innovative scheme of MTNL/BSNL, we have STD/ISD booths all over India.Any small town or even district place will have number of booths and one can choose and select from which booth to call.With advent of cheap mobile and STD calls,big cities and towns are witnessing decline in these booths.But in smaller towns and District places they are doing roaring business.We instruct our maidservant to call us from her native place-Rajapur in Konkan-before she boards ST bus for Mumbai.Its so simple,transparent and hassle free. Its easy to punch in number,and one can check whether correct number is dialed can talk as long as one wants to,keeping watchful eye on charges!.The booths are open for more than 18hrs a day, so calling is almost 24x7.Besides it gives employment or additional income to large number of people,thus serving a social cause in this country.Really one of the really innovative idea !