When we lived in Cherepovets, it took us until January to get Internet set up. If you ask Nathan, he’ll say that this is because you have to Know Someone to get connected–otherwise the waiting list is years long. I don’t know where Nathan got that idea (my guess is 1987), but it’s not true. What actually happened was we tried to limp along without it for as long as we could, and then once we decided we couldn’t do that anymore, he had to wait until I stopped wussing out of calling.

The current situation is this: Russians are extremely well-connected. They have good Internet and good data at laughably low prices. 10 MB on a 4G network? Six dollars a month. Unlimited high-speed cable Internet from TatTelekom, the local provider? Seven dollars a month. Time elapsed from calling to make an appointment to installer showing up? 20 hours. Comcast would die faster than a hairless dog on the steppe in winter.

In fact, the most difficult part of the process was completely my error–repeatedly making a mistake in entering in the login credentials that TatTelekom had provided. Unfortunately, it took me a while to realize that this was the problem, as the error I received said that the issue was an illegitimate IP address. After reassigning the IP myself to no avail, I called the technician back. He came while I was in town, so Liza had to deal with him, resulting in one of my favorite Kazan stories so far.

The technician came in, not wearing his uniform (although he was clothed), and, according to Liza, immediately demanded “chai,” or tea. Liza, taken aback, put on the kettle. He indicated that that wasn’t what he’d meant. At this point, Liza was very confused and pressed a stack of tea bags into his hand, which he accepted with a disgruntled air.  I wasn’t there, but I think what he probably requested was not “chai,” but “nachai,” or a tip–known to us civilized folk as a bribe. Now, it’s true that I have some excellent green tea in my cabinet, but as bribes go it’s middling at best. After he realized that the only nachai he was going to receive was actual chai, he turned on the computer, turned it back off, and left.

Liza and I have talked several times about the strange technician and his peculiar desire for tea. I haven’t presented my theory of the mix-up, but I do play it over and over in my head. It never stops being funny. 10/10, will definitely let Liza handle future interactions with contracted workers.

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