I had a couple of problems the other day trying to buy a ticket for Byeong-Hun to come to the states for Christmas. I was using Orbitz, and when I tried to complete the purchase, there was consistently an error message. So, I decided to call their 1-800 number (thank goodness for G-mail's call phone!) and had a pleasant talk with the customer service rep.
After confirming the flight 3 times, she also came to the same error message. So, to fill the time, she started asking questions about where I was and what I was doing. After I told her I was in Bulgaria, I asked if she was in India, and she responded yes. She asked if I had dinner yet, and if my mother was going to cook for me. I laughed and said that I was living alone and would be cooking for myself. She said she did not know how to cook, but her mother was a fantastic cook. We talked about our favorite Indian foods and she was surprised that I liked curry. Who doesn't?
I couldn't help but think of the new TV show Outsourced. Its about this American who has to move to India to run a call center. Its really fun, and makes me want to travel to India even more. Even though he is a very typical ignorant American about a lot of aspects of Indian culture, he at least makes an effort to understand. The other guy on the show is one of those insular people who will never adapt, but I think it does a good job of representing the two very different approaches that people take when living abroad. I hope that even though I'm often ignorant, I strive to understand and participate in the culture rather than living an American lifestyle abroad. Starbucks is my big exception.
Back to the phone call. We kept having issues and she continued to make conversation. She wanted to know when is the best time to visit Bulgaria, and I asked the same for India. I told her how I wanted to make it a long trip, and she agreed. Way too much to see in India for a week-long vacation. She was very interested that I was cooking my own meal, even though it was just penne pasta. Too cute.
She finally decided she had to split the ticket into two legs. This actually turned out to be quite fortuitous. Byeong-Hun's license has the old romanization of his name: Byung-Hun. I had forgotten this until the last moment. If the ticket had gone through originally, there would be a chance that he wouldn't be allowed on the flight. Apparently, it is impossible to change the name on a ticket once it is booked; I find this ridiculous, and probably a lie. Anyways, we ended up changing the name and finally booking the ticket. I never caught the customer service representative's name, but she was definitely more helpful and a lot better at customer service than a lot of her American counterparts. Outsourcing has its benefits.
Now, I just have to figure out how to get rid of the extra six booking charges that showed up on my bank account. . .