Tag Archives: number

The 411 on 411………………

I have a teenage son, so in addition to everything else I must accomplish in a day, I am also a chauffeur extraordinaire.  

My son and his friend wanted to see a movie. So I had to decide which was the lesser of two evils – him sitting in a dark room playing Xbox with people who might not really exist – or taking him to a movie with his friend (who happens to really exist) to sit in a dark room and watch characters who definitely do not exist.

Xbox is free – the movie costs money and taking them required me to get off my b.u.t.t. and go out in the heat. So off we go to the movie where I can at least pretend he might have some real-life human interaction.

I drove them to the theater and dropped them off and told them I would be back in 2 hours.

I ran a few quick errands and got back to the parking lot and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

With my keen powers of deductive reasoning, I started to think that the movie might actually be longer than 2 hours.

So, I called information (411) to get the number for said movie theater. And, yes, it was the movie theater that I was parked right in front of and yes, I could have just gotten out (and walked all the way across the street) and simply asked the movie professionals what time the movie was over. And yes, it turns out that would have been m.u.c.h. faster. But that would have left you without the absolute pleasure of reading about my 411 experience. (See the sacrifices I am willing to make for you, dear readers?) Plus it was hot outside. And I (thought I) had technology on my side.

I dialed 411 and was asked the city and state. Told them. Was then asked what listing I wanted. Told them.

Dead silence.

Then this……”Ma’am, there is no listing for that number. Are you sure there is a movie theater there?”

I have to say I was pretty surprised by that answer. If I was looking for a sherpa at the foot of Mt. Everest, I might understand the no listing response. But I was asking for the number of a movie theater – in a pretty big town. Seems that would be kind of a routine request. It seems the 411 operator might have some knowledge of how to find that nugget of info.

I told her I was pretty sure. In fact, I was sitting right in front of it.

She checked again and started to believe that either aliens had either abducted the movie theater and taken it back to their home planet or I was nuts.

But she simply said, “Ma’am, I cannot find that listing.”

I know that the price of 411 calls has gone up, so I said, “you won’t charge me for this call, right?”

“Uhm, Ma’am, when you call four-one-one, you are actually paying for the service not the results of that service. Yes, we will still be charging you.”

Excuse me?

So, you basically call me a liar, liar, pants on fire for asking for a number that (according to you) does not exist – you do not give me said number – and you are going to charge me for service? Did I miss something?

“Yes, you are paying us to look up the number – whether or not we find it. I can transfer you to our service department if you would like.”

That would be marvelous.

I got transferred to a new chickadee who could also not find the number. I also asked her if I would be charged for the call.

“Yes. You are paying for the service.”

Got it.

I showed great restraint and did not ask her which  dictionary (or language) she was using to define “service” because not giving me what I asked for me and then charging me for it does not really equal “service” in my dictionary or my wallet.

I asked for a manager and the second chickadee told me she could transfer me to 611 – their customer service department. Being a customer who would like some actual service, I asked her to transfer away.

Then I heard “beep, transferring your call to 611” – and then – and no, I am not kidding – “your call cannot be completed as dialed.” And then another beep.


The bottom line here is that two different 411 operators could not find the number for a movie theater in a major metropolitan area and one  of them was incapable of pushing three numbers on her phone and following it up with hitting “send” effectively and I was going to get charged – wait for it – one dollar and seventy nine cents for their “service”.

Deep cleansing breath.

My blackberry has a web2go feature – so I entered (correctly) the search terms: movie…. theater….name of the major metropolitan area… and wahlah – the name, number, address, and movie listings came up for said theater.

After calling the number and asking when the movie was over and doing some pretty high level math, I realized I was an hour early for movie pickup.


Plenty of time to call TMobile and ask again why I was being charged to not get a telephone number.

TMobile was all loverly. That spunky little chickadee even said – and I quote – it doesn’t really make sense that they could not find the number of a movie theater in a major city. That isn’t very helpful is it? (Yes, I think I love her.)

She held my hand and dabbed my wallet and told me she could remove the charge.

Now we’re talking.

And to fully absolve TMobile of any wrongdoing, she kindly explained that 411 is its very own entity and calls are not routed through or in any way handled by TMobile. And it turns out that you do in fact get charged whether or not they give you a number – and even if they give you a wrong number.

But it also turns out that you can call your carrier and have that charge removed.

I heart TMobile. 411 – not so much!

Not Even a Finalist. Hmpf………..

So George Mason University was hosting this contest about the best couple’s story – you know, a “how we met at Mason” extravaganza.

I entered my story with Number One Hubby. We didn’t even make the finals.

But, I have my own blog. So there. You can still be bored to tears with how we met!

Violence in Film – A Love Story

I just know it is going to happen. At our 50th wedding anniversary, my grand-daughter is going to lean down close to my chair right before we blow out the candles on our anniversary cheesecake and whisper excitedly, “How did you and Grandpa meet?”

And just as excitedly, I will lean in closer to her with my hand cupped gently around my mouth and giggle into her tiny tilted ear, “in a Violence in Film class at George Mason University way back in 1989”. She will surely take a step back and wonder if I am hitting early Alzheimers.

My husband and I will simply laugh. Because that is exactly how it all started. I was an English major taking a film class. I (obviously) didn’t pay much attention to the genre when I picked this class. I was just trying to get one more requirement in and in a course catalogue filled with poetry and short story writing and literature and transcendental meditation classes, who would be worried about a simple film class focusing on violence? Clearly, not me. A Violence in Film class is just about the last class I would ever sign up for. It is even lower on the list than Shark Training 101.

Unfortunately, it did not all happen on a dark and stormy night because that would have made a great introduction to the story. Alas, it was actually a bright and sunny day at the beginning of the Fall semester. He was already sitting down when I walked into class on that first day. He was scrunched down in the seat, feet in the aisle, ankles crossed, and his blue tattered hat was tilted to just enough to the right. And he was cute as heck. He was an accounting major taking an upper level English class as an elective. Because that makes perfect sense.

Then I saw her. The teacher. Cynthia Fuchs. In fatigues and, if I remember correctly, she donned a strawberry blond crew cut. She looked pretty serious. Then I saw the syllabus. Violence in Film. Hmmm. I immediately wondered how many classes I was allowed to attend before dropping the class without GPA consequences. I wanted to stay just long enough to meet that guy, but not one short take more because the movies listed were gruesome – Taxi, Robocop, Blue Velvet. I would not have paid $5 to watch those shows at the theater and then suddenly I was about to let my parents drop a load of tuition dollars on this class because there was a cute guy in the back row. Excellent.

Professor Fuchs started calling out attendance. I waited and watched to see when he would raise his hand. This was my chance to find out his name.



Seriously? Is that Rob, Bob, Bert, Robert, Robbie, or perhaps Bobby? Or maybe he goes by his initials. You gotta be kidding me. This might take more than one or two classes to figure out, especially considering the fact that every other class was scheduled as a viewing class where we would sit in the dark, in silence and watch a movie. A violent movie.

What I came to find out not so much later was that the cute guy in the tilted hat with the official first name of “Robert” actually went by his middle name.

I figured I would at least go to the next class. We were watching a movie. So, I packed my popcorn and my cranberry juice and headed off to class. The seat next to Robert/Bobby/Rob a.k.a. Number One Hubby was open. I took it. Maybe I pushed another student out of the way to get there, maybe not. But I got the seat. The lights dimmed, the movie started, and I carefully put one piece of popcorn in my mouth at a time and let it melt, slowly and quietly.

Then I heard, “Pssst.”

Really, was he talking to me? The dropping of this class and the making of our first date just might happen sooner than later.

I put my hand to my chest and shrugged my shoulders as if to say, “who me”. I might have even flipped my hair. A little. Maybe. Just a little.

To which he replied, “Could you please keep it down? It’s hard to hear the movie.”

Oh dear heavens. That is when I learned that my future husband was not only handsome, but also a smart arse. And thus the crush began.

We starting skipping the classes in which films were being shown and, instead, hung out in the Ratt. I vaguely remember beers and pizza being involved. Then we would have to rent the movie and it made more sense to watch it together. We’d go to the discussion class together and have our own discussions afterward. He liked the movies. I hated the movies. It was a match made in movie heaven.

We even worked side by side on our final papers. We had to create our own violent movie scene. And to this day, Number One Hubby will swear he got a better grade in the class than I got. And sometimes, for the sake of marriage, we let the little tales go so that one day we will be able to tell a Violence in Film Love Story at our 50th wedding anniversary party.

It all came together when he proposed to me, wearing that same tattered blue hat tilted perfectly to the right, in the Blockbuster video parking lot. We were creating a new story – not for homework – but for a lifetime.

Gujarat Haveli…………..

Most people who live in a foreign country want to take something special from that country back home with them to remind them of their experiences. Furniture seems a good choice because it’s also practical – of course I am also a big advocate of the impractical bejeweled souvenir as well. But I digress. Lots of our friends in Delhi have told me about the Gujarat Haveli and we finally made it out there. Holy home furnishings batman! Just on the FYI side of things Gujarat is a region in India and Haveli loosely means (very) lovely place to live and trade.

This place was amazing. It reminded me of antique stores (barns) in the U.S. but with way cooler stuff! I have absolutely nowhere to put something like this horse- but I love, love, love him. He loves me too – I just know it.

This table has brass elephants on the side.

Beautiful pots.

More beautiful pots. The one on the left is made of iron with leather braiding. The one on the right is wooden with brass trimming.

These are dowry chests. The brides family would fill these up with prezzies and they would be rolled with the wedding procession to the groom’s house. My youngest daughter had a hard time understanding all of it until I told her not to worry. She will surely marry someone who will be giving her gifts and if he needs a chest this big to fit them all in – so be it. 😉

He might just have to come home with me one day.

Either him or one of his cousins.

Most of these are the bottoms of Hookah pipes. The ones on either end reminded me of spittoons from the wild west days but the shop keeper told me they were for water. He said that at night you fill it with water then in the morning you drink it. You leave it over night so you get the benefit of the all the minerals in the metals. Not exactly the same, same as a spittoon.

Tres cool statues.

I would not sleep at night if this guy lived in my house.

Oh, the fabulous finds just went on and on.

This chair is for the boy, the girl, and the chaperon. But it would also be great for a game of duck duck goose.

This is a coffee table made out of an old door. Magnificent!

An old swing that doesn’t have to involve a chaperon. Must be for a married couple.

There were a lot of painted things. They aren’t my fave just because I am too practical and I cannot imagine trying to fit these into a room with other things.

And you know how I love my bells! Ding ding!

We left without buying anything – because there is also Sharma Farms that I have heard we should see – but clearly we have lots to discuss. I’ll let you know how it goes. Yes, you should start feeling sorry for number one hubby right about n.o.w.

P.S. I have gotten a few emails asking for the address (I had a super hard time finding it too) so for those of you who are local – here it is….
Gujarat Haveli
Mobile 98100 66925 (you need an appointment)
43 KM Stone Delhi
Jaipur Expressway, N.H.-8
Gurgaon, Haryana
email: kutch@ndf.vsnl.net.in
(I will leave it to them to give you directions – I might get you lost. 😉 )

Pick a card, any card………..

There are so many “different ways of doing business” that you must navigate when you move somewhere new. One of the things that I did not realize I would miss about the United States was the ease of getting phone numbers or addresses or just information in general.

There is no directory assistance here. (Well there might be – but it is a well kept secret.) If you want a phone number, you have to know someone who knows the phone number. It is really crazy. I am yet to see a telephone book (except for the school’s directory – God love them). But what we all do have is a flippin’ stack of business cards. Literally hundreds of them. Everywhere you go, you get a business card. And you are hesitant to get rid of them – because you just might want to call that vendor one day. And when you do want to call a vendor, good luck figuring out which card is who.

And the internet is not always that helpful. Many of us have shared our frustrations of trying to find a business or address on the internet – you can literally get lost for hours in the land of nothingness.

Heck, most stores still calculate the bill by handwriting it and then doing the math manually – then rechecking the math with a calculator. So the fact that they don’t have a web presence really is not surprising.

Just the other day, I asked our cook to order some groceries to be delivered (yes, that is back when I had a cook). I knew that he was rewriting receipts so I did not want him to go himself. But the market delivers and then I pay the bill. Fabulous.

Now, just so you fully understand – this is the same market that we have been shopping at ever since Francis started working for us – 7 months ago. And they have delivered groceries many, many times to our house.

So a whole day goes by and no groceries come.

The next morning, we have this conversation…

Francis: Ma’am, I could not order groceries.
Me: Okay, why?
Francis:  I don’t have the number.
Me: Of the shop we have been ordering groceries from for months?
Francis: Yes Ma’am. But I have the number of his brother’s shop.
Me: Can you call his brother and get the number?
Francis: I tried. No one is answering.
Me: So, you really don’t know the number? That you have been calling for 7 months?
Francis: No Ma’am.
Francis: Yes, Ma’am
Me: I’ll get it for you.

So, I went into the pantry where we have about 15 canvas bags (all of which Francis put away) from this market shop. Each bag has the address, phone number, and name of the store printed in l.a.r.g.e. type right on the bag.

Francis: Oh, thank you ma’am. (awkward laughing)
Me: Make sure you get their card.

Alphabet soup…………..

Just in case you don’t remember every single post I write – here is a link to how numbers are “said” in India. It was called double oh seven.

Basically, for the number 911 – you would say nine double one. Sounds simple enough, right? Maybe not so much.

Well, today I learned that the alphabet can be equally confusing.

My name has a couple of “double” letter sets and one “w”. Which apparently can be easily confused with double “u” – although I have never seen a double “u” actually used anywhere.  (Well maybe in the word vacuum – but I was not calling a vacuum shop – I was calling a lab for blood work. Not exactly the same same. And, yep, I will fill you in on how I have become a science experiment very soon.) Just to make it more fun, my name only has one type of letter of the vowel persuasion – there are 5 of them – and they are all the same vowel. So in the 11 letters in my name, there are lots of repeats. In fact, in those 11 spaces, there are actually only 5 different letters. Yep, lots of repeats.

Does that make it hard to spell your name on the telephone to someone whose native language is Hindi? Of course it does. (Honestly, it wasn’t that easy in the U.S. either because my street name has all the same problems as my name.) But throw in accents – mine and theirs – and it gets a wee bit harder.

My big challenge today was to explain that it is “w” not double “u”. It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard – does it?

Oh, my friend, I blog to differ……………..  😎