Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cell Phones Part 2

In my previous post about cell phones, I forgot to cover how cell phone culture differs in Kazakhstan. It’s a really interesting example about how people’s behaviors adapt to their technical limitations.

So, in Kazakhstan, you are charged per second you are on the phone. This results in phone calls like:

Kaz Person: Hello.
Me: Hel-
Kaz Person: Where are you right now?
Me: I’m in Taraz.

Prompt hellos. Little chatting about how life is. Get to the point. Get off the phone. Don’t worry about saying goodbye.

Another difference is that you can’t screen your calls as easily. For one, there is no voice mail. Why? I have no idea. I work in a government office and we don’t even have a voice mail system. Or answering machines. Houses are the same. As are cell phones. So if an unknown number calls, do you just not answer it? Maybe, but then you’ll never learn who it is.

And say you do know the number that’s calling. Do you let it go and call back at a more convenient time? Well if you do, it’ll be on your dime. Because when you pay as you call, you pick up when people call you. Because then they’re paying for it.

This system also results in an annoying practice of calling for one ring and then hanging up. So you might be sitting there and your phone rings. But by the time you get it out of your pocket the other person has already hung up. You see that it was Yerzhan calling, but you have no idea what he wanted. So you have to call him back using your credit if you want to find out. Some people abuse this system a lot more than others.

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