Perspectives from the *other side* on Software, Management and Life

Monday, September 12, 2005

public sector - getting work done

Bad phone line story:
My parents house in islamabad (where i am currently crashing in), had a bad line ie lots of static. I called PTCL (Pakistan Telecom Corp Ltd) and got a case created through their automated system. A week went by, and NO response. Called up again, and this time asked for the operator - told him about the problem. A day later I get a call by a lineman who asks if there is a problem, and i confirm there is. He says that he'll swing by, but no one shows up.
Time for escalating ..... I call up PTCL complaint number again, get the operator and then ASK for the number of the exchange handling my area. I dial that number and first thing i ask is for his name and then explain my problem. The lineman shows up within 1 hour!
disclaimer: i had some issue about a month back and i tipped the lineman 1.8 USD or 100Pak RS - my brother was fairly angry at me tipping as he thought it might mess with the working ethics for public sector employees. Anyway, now the lineman has given me his personal cell phone number (and refused to accept 50 RS or around 1 USD this time and said i shouldnt tip him each time i register a complaint) :)
I will be going to lahore soon, and will need a DSL connection at home ie requires a crisp clear phone line(for work from home purposes). Hoping my experience there is good .....

Sunday, September 04, 2005

move back to pakistan


life in pakistan seems to be better than i had anticipated. i had been worrying about moving back for months, but now it all seems childish having done so.
Being addicted to technology definitly helps in settling back (contrary to what i would have assumed). The first thing i did was to unlock my palm treo650 (locked on the cingular network). That turned out to be more complicated than i had anticpated. Even after having getting the unlock code from cingular (i am told that after being a customer for 3 months, one becomes eligible for it), i could not unlock the phone. After searching through the internet, i figured one had to type in the following to unlock the treo 650: *#*##
Now i have a treo 650 that i can use in pakistan! I am told that islamabad and lahore are safe for PDA based phones as phone robbery is rare. Karachi is another story.
I have Alwarid (waridtel.com); its reception and coverage is poor, although its GPRS is too good, and dirt cheap. I can still check my gmail and company emails from my treo and am quiet happy with the internet speed.
Mobilink has better coverage but am not sure of its GPRS capabilities and cost (the other telco's are: ufone, paktel and telenor).

Calling the USA to settle my accounts, close down subscribtions etc was a big headache. Luckily my friends in the US helped me out big time. Calling the US through warid costed close to 18 cents/min. Calling through calling cards is even cheaper, one such card costs close to 5 cents/min. Although now most cellular companies are reducing their international call plans drastically (PTCL - the land line monopoly of pakistan, recently privitised; still lags behind in being competitive for international calling).

But nothing beats having a US based number, i got one through packet8 (although be warned, they say if they figure that the phone is being used on a permanent basis outside of the US, they will charge extra, including for the past months). Someone said vonics.com is pakistani based VoIP solution and has people in pakistan that come over to do the installation/setting up etc (of a US number). Needless to say, you need high speed internet (my dsl.net.pk has a 300 kbs downlink and 150 kbs uplink) and costs just under USD 20 / month. The quality of PTCL (land line) in islamabad is generally good - so DSL is a good option here, and the ISPs also help with clearing up the line if there is static.

Now my biggest hurdle is moving to lahore. Finding an appartment while adjusting to a new job/role will be a challenge, i just hope that phase goes through smoothly.

All in all, so far the move back seems like a good idea. I'll post in the coming days on my experiences etc.

THE PICTURE is of BADSHAHI Mosque. It was built by the Moghal king Aurenzeb. The mughals has also built the Taj Mahal as well. I took this picture from cokoo's den - great restaurant for having dinner in the evening - the view of the mosque is truly breath taking (disclaimer - i'm newly married and so might be in *that* phase ;) )