I often get asked what it’s like living in the West Bank. Often they are asking about security, crossing checkpoints and managing issues such as the water, living amongst Muslims, the traffic. All of these have their frustrations, and sometimes their joys. Often though its about uncertainties, not knowing quite what will happen next – I was driving home the other day and saw all the cars hurriedly turning round in front of me – then I heard the tear gas and realised that it was a Friday and it wasn’t a good idea to go down the Hebron Road!
But then there is also the languages, I am trying to learn Arabic. It’s a struggle but it is certainly a help. Hebrew is beyond me! Managing simple things then become everso stressful.
I discovered a month back that we are paying well over the odds for phone and internet at the office using two companies Beseq and Netvision. The services have been provided by them for years and things have moved on since the contracts were set up. After talking with our United Methodist Co-Ordinator in the U.S. I agreed to sort out getting the phone and WiFi from the same provider, and at a much better price. It sounded simple at the time!
The first problem was contacting them. Phone them up and the message is in Hebrew. I asked a friend who speaks Hebrew to listen to it and – after going through three selections – there is in Hebrew the phrase “For English press 4.” ! When I did so they managed to tell me that they couldn’t do anything with the account until I had the passport number and last four digits of the credit card used. A week later I obtained these (they weren’t mine) and I tried again on the phone. No English option left. All I wanted to do was to cancel the WiFi. Finally the IT person at Tantur said that he would do it. That was a week ago. Last time I spoke to him he said that he had tried them time and again and they kept saying they’d call back – and they hadn’t.
That however was the simple one! I took on the phone provider and intended getting our WiFi from the same company. It seemed that there was no choice but to use Baseq as they provided the land lines here. Using the phone was again impossible but they at least had a shop – in East Jerusalem. On the first of January the land line (and therefore the WiFi) had stopped working. So I visited their shop. They told me that the bill hadn’t been paid (it seems that the credit card had been cancelled), and so that was why the phone was off. I paid the bill and was assured that the line would be on again. Back to the office the following day – and the phone still didn’t work. Pressure of time meant that it was a week later before I could go back. When I did they said “there is now a fault on the line we can’t help call 166, its a free phone number” Guess what – its in Hebrew. So I asked if there was an English voice – oh yes press 4. Off I went to a quiet place to call. After a call of 20 minutes I was informed – for the next sequence you need to be at the phone in question.
I returned o the office. Repeated the twenty minutes of selcting options and confirmed that I was not by the phone. The electronic operator kindly informed me that there was a fault on the line (which I already knew!) and said that I would now be put in contact with an operator. “Sorry no English speaking operators are available.” Line went dead. Tried to remake the call to hear from my phone “you have no credit left please recharge your credit.”
Back to the shop again – “you said it was a freephone service.” “Ah well only from Beseq numbers,” “but I wouldn’t want to phone it if my beseq line was working….!”
Very helpfully that said that they would iPhone an engineer. They did so and were told that someone would call me back. – Guess what —- no one has!
Well its now been over a month with no landline phone and no WiFi ar the Office, and it looks like another trip to the Beseq shop!
I hate to think what my blood pressure is now!!!