[Video] (Great?) Expectations


Due to lack of Internet here in Baga, Goa, India the following video will be visible only in your mind’s eye. I can’t upload the actual video. I can barely upload a picture! (Yes, it is quite near impossible to get any work done here, try as I might.)

The setting: an open field just east of Baga Beach off the Arabian Sea.

The camera is held in my right hand and pointed at my face.

I begin speaking.

“Today I want to talk about expectations, because while here in Baga, Goa, India a lot of mine have been shattered.”

“First, here’s an Indian cell phone from Vodaphone.” [I show my cell phone to the camera.]

“The process of obtaining this was an interesting experience. It took 2 days, 4 visits to Vodaphone, and 5 or 6 hours of my time before I actually had this phone working.”

“This morning I tried to place a phone call and got a message saying my paperwork was never submitted and I can’t place outbound calls.”

“I called customer service from the phone and explained the situation. But because I got my phone in Mumbai I have to call the Mumbai customer support. I can’t call customer service in Mumbai because my phone won’t place outbound calls.” (Note: The first customer service call worked probably because I used the Vodaphone Service button on the phone.)

“Second, I got this Tata Indicom USB Internet stick from a friend.” [I show the USB stick to the camera.]

“I went to the local Tata store to get it activated, but since it hadn’t been in use for a year the SIM card is cancelled and can’t be reactivated. They tell me I must buy a new SIM. So I ask to buy a new SIM. They tell me they don’t sell the SIM, but I can buy a new stick. I’m at the Tata store, they tell me to buy a new SIM, but they don’t sell the SIM. :)”

[A cow walks behind me]

“I ask to buy a new stick. They ask me if I have my resident paperwork. Of course I don’t because I’m not a resident. I try to pay them off because that seems to be how everything works here. But they don’t accept my bribe. :)”

“This all boils down to my own ignorance. I was ignorant of how difficult things I take for granted are in the third world, but it makes sense in retrospect. Everything works differently here and I have to learn to roll with the punches or leave. Things (like a cell phone or internet) that should just work, don’t. It’s like real life Windows. Nothing works correctly, and nothing works on the first try. ;) ”

[A young child on a bike stops and stares at me. I make a comment to the camera about the child. The child appears in the video behind me.]

“What I’d like to know is times in your life when your expectations for something have been shattered and how you dealt with it. But if you have examples of expectations being met or exceeded I’d much rather hear that!” ;)

[Video ends.]


  1. Hi Karol,

    Got here via your tweet… I was worried it was going to be another horror massage story (complete with video).. so you had me worried a bit….. then I began reading… relieved…then read further and I again became distressed.

    Then I paused…… then I thought why am I surprised by this story…. the answer I’m NOT. Did you expect anything other than this type of customer service from a telecommunications company anywhere in the world? Every dealing with a telco results in shattered expectations.

    But it is always balanced by something good…… so where have my expectations been met or exceeded….by my elected representative in our federal parliament (congress equivalent).. David Bradbury. David is really connected at the grass roots level and ALWAYS follows up and delivers on items I discuss with him, and a damn nice guy to boot!

    Can’t wait to see the guitar!

    • haha, yeah, I guess I shouldn’t expect anything less from a telco :)

      That’s awesome that you’ve got a government official who has your back. :)

  2. I can’t believe you’re surprised or amazed by any of this simply going on where you are at this given moment.

    You should watch “The Amazing Race” before you pick destinations ;-)

    It won’t be much different where you’re going in April. Sorry.

    As for shattered expectations, I never have any because I prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

    Exceeded expectations? Hah! haven’t had that happen in so long I can’t remember what it was like.

    Maybe 5th Grade ….no, wait, it was 2nd Grade.

    • Oh cool, you’ll have to tell me about your time in Thailand. But as far as Internet, you’re wrong. Bangkok has 3 Regus offices (regus.com). Regus office = super fast internet and comfortable area to work for free for Amex Plat customers such as myself. Woot!

      You haven’t had your expectations exceeded in that long?

      I have some. For example, I hadn’t ever had a fresh coconut, but I imagined it would be tasty. Not only has the flavor of coconut water and “meat” exceeded my expectations, it only costs 20 Rupees! (less than 50 cents) Suffice it to say I eat one every day. :)

  3. I have a story of beyond my expectations being met. My wife and I flew into Tokyo and bought tickets for the train to the center of town. I accidentally dropped one of the tickets. We got on the train, then conductor came up asking for the tickets, and, of course, I could only produce one. He said we had to get off. I said we bought two tickets, but I just don’t know what happened to second one.

    Here we are in a country where we do not speak the language nor read any of the signs. We start to panic. The conductor says wait a minute. He calls the ticket office and they tell him that they found the missing ticket on the floor at the bottom of the ticket window. So, he writes out a ticket by hand and gives it to me and says enjoy your stay in Japan (I think he said that – it was in Japanese, so not sure). This was the beginning of how the whole trip in Japan went. Beyond expectations. I have a picture of the hand written ticket if there is a way to upload to this site.



  4. Hey Karol

    We’re not supposed to have expectations, which is all good and well when we remember not to have them, but more often than not we wander into a situation (place) with nothing but our current experiences and it just doesn’t even occur to us that things might be different.

    When you’re South African and you move to Toronto this works in your favour (except for the weather), but when you’re American and you travel to India, not so much. ;-)

    My advice? Roll with it. Take the time to soak up all the stuff they have that the US doesn’t.

    My hopes (expectations) were exceeded, and continue to be, by the old age home that cared for my Mom and cares for my Dad. I am truly blessed to have found a place for my parents that is affordable, decent and takes such wonderful care of its residents.

    • Thanks for sharing Angela! That’s awesome that you’ve found an old age home that rocks!

      I’m rolling with it as best as I can, but I’m not here just to sight see. I’m here to work (1st) and experience new things (close 2nd). If I can’t do both I’m wasting my time. This isn’t a vacation/holiday. :)

  5. I dunno. If I was under the gun to accomplish some kind of super important future affecting task, I would probably be pretty frustrated.
    But you’re not, right? I mean, you are there to experience life and India. You aren’t on a time schedule. I don’t know about you, but when I have gotten into situations where things get so completely and utterly absurd; when you are swimming in a sea of total F-up-ed-ness you have no control over. It’s time to just sit back, laugh, and try and observe and record how darkly comical the world can be. I think it would be fascinating to investigate the myriad of ways the locals find to cope and work around these obstacles.

    I’m excited for you, since your decision not to always be “traveling” has provided you with this kind of flexibility.

    Now to answer your call… I learned a number of years ago that a major source of unhappiness in my life was caused by having unrealistic expectations. I have really focused on being realistic with mine and it has made life much more fun.
    My earliest and possibly most painful experience with expectations was back in the days of collecting cereal boxtops. I collected enough to get this really cool boat that floated and was somehow self-propelled. I was so excited. We had to send away for it. Bummer. Then it took weeks and weeks and weeks. One week for a seven year old is the equivalent of 1 adult-human year. Finally it shows up and it was this tiny plastic thing similar to what might come out of a box of Cracker-Jacks. (Do they still make those?) Anyways, it truly scarred me for decades. It seriously affected my ability to tolerate delayed gratification.

    • Aww man, things like that are so crushing when we’re children. :)

      As far as not being frustrated. Yes, I am. Right now my days are mostly spent building the guitar so it’s not a huge deal. Although if I had internet that worked I could get a couple hours of work done every day too. Once the guitar is done, I’m not sure what I’ll do. As I mentioned in another comment, I’m not here on vacation/holiday. I’m here to work and experience new things.

      As far as how locals cope: they don’t make their livelihood based on an Internet connection. :)

  6. Hi Karol,
    There is no doubt the first week or 2 in India is a major culture shock for most travellers, but after a month or so many don’t want to go home.

    My favorite beach place is Varkala Beach in Kerala in South India, a temple festival with 20 or so decorated elephants is something wonderful to see. For mountains the Himalayas are no doubt the most awesome on the planet.



    • Thanks Jim.

      Although there is definite culture shock, this is different. I love the food, I love walking/running along the beach every morning, I love building my guitar in an outdoor “jungle” setting, I love coconuts (wait, that’s food!)…I just don’t like not being able to work.

  7. Hi Karol,

    Just a quick question:
    how’s the guitar you’re building for me coming along?

    I’ve been expecting pictures of my guitar – and those expectations have been utterly shattered so far. I’ll be traumatized for years to come. ;-)

  8. A friend once told me “The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.”

    If you cell works use it ; if it doesn’t don’t . If the internet connection works use it; if it doesn’t don’t. If you done everything you possibly can to make all your techy stuff work and it doesn’t it’s ok. Go explore! Go live! Go see everything!

    The internet will be here when you get connected again.

  9. Now that your expectations have been lowered, you will be able to enjoy them being exceeded from this point forward!

    Three years ago when I was in Delhi, I had my wallet pickpocket one night and lost everything. I wandered into a small shop that advertised overseas phone calls and asked if I could make a phone call home and pay him the next day once I received a money transfer. Not only did he allow me to make the call, but this shop owner refused to let me leave without taking 500 rupees to pay for food and my hotel that night. His generosity greatly exceeded any of my expectations…and in the five times I’ve been to Delhi since, I’ve visited this guy each time and a friendship has been formed.

    • That’s an awesome story Earl! And you’re right, now that my expectations are lowered, everything’s gravy. I almost don’t mind sitting in this dirty plastic chair at a dirty internet cafe getting a bit of work done. :)

  10. I REALLY enjoyed the wonderful stories shared by James Pricer and Earl; the latter threatened to bring a tear to my eye. So uplifting.
    I too was unable to read the ticket–hadn’t stopped to think. Of course, it wa written in Japanese.Though we didn’t need to see the ticket to believe you, it was fun to see–what a great souvenir.

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