The Internet


My house is in an internet black hole. To make things worse, all the windows are covered with fine metal mesh to keep out insects. Apparently, this makes my house a “Faraday Cage”, impervious to radio waves. It’s a double whammy.

The doctor has access to a dongle which fits into a USB port and contains a SIM card. It works when I am at the clinic, so I can look up clinical information on the internet. I have burned through 2GB in two weeks, so I was trying to curb my internet habit when my next door neighbour offered to let me use his new Huawei router for WiFi. He buys 10GB each month and he let me use it, as he was going to South Africa for a few weeks. I burned through that in a week, too, so I had to buy another bundle.

I went to the phone network MTN shop in town to get Christine’s help. I should mention that when she set up my dongle last month, she left her SIM inside, and put my SIM into her phone. And she blamed me for this. But everyone deserves a second chance, especially when there is no one else who could show me how to set up the system on the router.

I gave her 250 kwacha and she added it to the SIM. She then used this to buy a 10GB bundle. Simple enough, I thought. But when I got home, it didn’t work. I could connect to the secure network but there was no internet. I changed some settings, I changed my computer to a previous restore point when I knew the internet had been working, I tried to access a helpline, but I was offline. I almost ruined my Adobe Lightroom photographic editing programme doing this, and that would have been a disaster.

I went back to Christine the next day and she contacted MTN’s customer helpline on my behalf. Our call was in a queue for two hours so I gave up. The next day, I asked an IT expert expat who said that the bundle had not been purchased and applied to the account. Christine managed to get hold of the MTN customer helpline and this was corrected. For a brief instant, I had access, but Gmail home page was plastered with warnings about insecure access and people trying to attack my computer. It then shut down and would not let me connect at all.

“What’s going on, Christine?” I asked. “I think it is because you bought the bundle before the old bundle expired.” “But you told me I had no more data left on that SIM,” I said. “That’s why I bought the new bundle.” I asked her to try again to contact the MTN customer helpline and went to work.

This afternoon, Christine said she had some news for me, “Two other expats with this router have been having problems with their network, exactly like you.” Now she tells me.

I had a brainwave. “What about putting the router SIM into my dongle?” I asked. Christine said that she would try. In order to keep the dongle safe while she interrogated its SIM using her phone, she stuffed the dongle down her cleavage. There wasn’t much room for it, but I suppose it was as safe a place as any. Needless to say, it didn’t work either. It looks as though I am stuffed, too, when it comes to accessing the web.

Christine put my dongle down her cleavage

But after a week of internet deprivation, I have now managed to get the receptionist at Croc Valley to get on the phone to Customer Services at MTN and my connection is restored. Thank you, H.

3 Replies to “The Internet”

    1. It is much warmer here in South Luangwa than in Lusaka or Chipata. And she works indoors. It does get warm in the middle of the day here, more than 30C recently. Perhaps there is another reason for her dress style?

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