As of 2014 Mumbai had 16.4 million Internet users, the highest in India. That means that Mumbai has the highest number of people in India that scream at a box with flashing lights on it every day. Admit it, at some point or the other you’ve all played Flashing Light Roulette. A page stops loading midway, and with terror in your heart you stare at your modem. Five lights mean life, anything less means every device you own turns into a pumpkin. Internet in Mumbai is rubbish.
Bandwidth boredom: Admit it, at some point or the other you’ve all played Flashing Light Roulette. A page stops loading midway, and with terror in your heart you stare at your modem. Representation Pic/Thinkstock
The hunt for good internet in Mumbai begins with you asking your friends what provider they use. They all use an amazing, reliable and cheap provider named Amazing, Reliable and Cheap Provider Who “Doesn’t Give In Your Area”. This is Mumbai’s most popular internet service provider. He has 4,00,000-MBPS plans for 12 Rupees with no fair usage policy (aka FUP, as in, “Having limits on data usage and then throttling people down is the most F-UP thing ever”).
You try several service providers, who give you hope by saying they’ll check whether they provide in your area. Meanwhile, as if in a cheap horror movie, pamphlets start arriving. Under your door, or tucked into the handle, or taped to the wall of your lift. Pamphlets that urge you to give in to your only option, the local cable Mafioso who, by sweet, dumb coincidence, is also the only local internet provider. You ignore him and go about your life, and bring home another connection. But you wake up the next day and the connection’s gone, the wiring nailed to your front door. He then kills everyone else who tries to offer you internet, including your best friend who let you use his hotspot once. Eventually, you cave to this madman who has you hostage. You cough up R2,000 a month for a 4MBPS connection that throttles down to 2 kbps if you use more than 2 MB a month. In your slow prison, you howl at the walls and rattle at your cage door, and none of your friends can see or hear you howl, mostly because the f***ing video of you doing it won’t F***NG B******D M**********DING UPLOAD ON YOUR PIECE OF S**T INTERNET.
Actually, it isn’t that easy. The Mafioso deigns to give you internet, and says he’ll send his “aadmi” over to do the wiring. Aadmi is a dangerous man. He lives in a hammock in a rip in space-time, which creates difficulties because he says he’ll come tomorrow, but when you live in a rip in space-time, for you tomorrow could be four months away. Eventually he sets up your modem, and sorts out your WiFi (which you must always name “Virus” because when people see a WiFi network named Virus they think it’s an actual virus and not a WiFi connection, in the same way that if you named an elephant Lalit Modi, everyone would fall over backwards to sort out his travel arrangements).
And then, at last, you’re okay. Until it rains. Or a mild breeze blows. Or someone in the next building yawns. Or it’s Tuesday. Or the sun comes out in the east. And then it all falls apart again, because then you have to get customer service, which means trying to call one guy named Raju who only answers between 1 and 1:01 pm on Monday, because that’s when he’s sleepy from eating a big lunch, so he’s forgotten that he isn’t supposed to take your call. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I heard you’re coming to India in 2016, Netflix! Welcome!
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi