Monday, April 10, 2006

STD booth

While speaking about post industrial platforms, its time to revisit the old STD (thats an abbreviation for Subscriber Trunk Dialling, localese for inter state telephone calls. The old trunk call had to be booked via the exchange, hence this one was subscriber trunk dialling) booth in India. These were central points of connection at bus stations and railway stations with people who, at the point of departure or arrival contacted their near and dear ones. And these places had booths which were not exactly angels. Jumpy meters, "no change", cross connections, broken phones were the rule than the exception at these places - in short most of these were the epitome of customer unfriendliness.

A recent visit to Bangalores central bus station affirmed something I had observed at a recent visit to a railway station. The number of people at STD booths is dwindling and how. This booth was small, as small as a handkerchief and he had 6-8 phones in this space, one next to another, without any cabin or anything. (Note to myself: Please take pictures of such places so you dont struggle to get the point across). There was a time when to get such STD booths in prime locations people would go armed with letters of "recommendation" from MLAs and the like. Today its not a great business to be in.

In their heyday (just a few years back), at such a booth, there would be people screaming and shouting into each phone (Imagine 6-8 lines next to each other), creating their own cross connections (and thereby increasing their talk time - cant hear you, can you repeat, theres a lot of disturbance - you get the picture). At that time he was king, you couldnt complain, take it or leave it. Well, the latter has happened.

Today he sits there waving off the mosquito which visits him and not for the phone call. A symbolic cobweb at this STD booth represents the gap between the old telecom and the new telecom web across the country.

3 comments:

Niti Bhan said...

For our global audience I thought it would be good to say that STD in this context, used in India, means Subscriber Trunk Dialling - placing an out of state call, not a reference to communicable diseases :)

Neelakantan said...

Updated! Thanks!

Kaps said...

It may be too early to write off the STD booths. the media is hinting that they are making out of arbitrage gains arising from the One India scheme.
read more here: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2006/03/25/stories/2006032503150400.htm