The advent of PTCL’s EVO stick revolutionized internet communication which, in this high-tech age, has become not only a life line for many but also a means of being able to work from home rather than expending unnecessary money, time and adding to environmental pollution by travelling to an often distant work place or, at least this was the original scenario but – as with far too many scenarios – things change and never, it seems, for the better.

The EVO service was available for quite a long time in city locations throughout the country before it finally – wonder of wonders – arrived in Bhurban where, although the connection speed rarely, if ever, exceeds 40% at my particular location, at least it worked which meant that, as long as the laptop battery was charged, I could connect to the offices I work for even during the all too regular periods of loadshedding as, prior to the ‘God send’ of EVO, I had to rely on DSL which depended on electricity to function.

The very second EVO became available, I literally raced to the EVO office – a surprisingly plush set up, in Murree Telephone Exchange and purchased the lifesaving stick, using my landline number, my cell phone number and my Computerized Identity Card number to do so and as required for the purpose of PTCL records. Having thus legally purchased a legal EVO stick this, automatically, provided for a 24 hour back up, trouble shooting service which, until EVO, without a single word of warning, completely closed its Murree office leaving customers in the area at the mercy of that annoying system where one phones a computer recorded message, lodges a complaint and waits, endlessly for absolutely zilch unless, that is, you are prepared and if your landline is working or, if the electricity has been on long enough to charge your cell phone, to wait and wait and wait, listening to ‘headache music’ and a recorded voice saying something like ‘Please hold. All call agents are busy at this time.’ Which, when, as a working journalist or in any emergency, does absolutely nothing to solve your predicament but does plenty to increase your blood pressure to, if it happens enough, boiling point – as is the case for yours truly right now!

The honeymoon of our new government being long over, loadshedding is back like never before: This last few days, last week and the week before that too, the power disappears around 10 am and returns – maybe – at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. depending on when ‘they’ remember to flick the switch and then, even after that, it comes and goes at will which, the laptop battery not lasting 8 hours, means that work has to be crammed in to an evening when and as possible and it is only possible when EVO is working which, for the last 5 – 6 days it is not.

Having persevered, initially that is, wrongly thinking that whatever gremlin was causing the EVO signal to come and go with alarming regularly, as in on for 5 minutes, off for 10 or 15 or 20 and then on for 5 or 6 or, if I was lucky 7 and having been told by a friend in distant Bahawalpur that they were experiencing the exact same problem, I was hopeful that whatever the gremlin was it would vanish fairly soon but – it did not. Finally, and not before time, I had had enough.

Just last night, at exactly 7.23 p.m. to be precise, I finally, after having an earful of recorded computer, managed to get a human voice who, as they always do and as they are programmed to do, promised, faithfully and after asking the most ridiculous questions ever invented, that my bought and pe-paid for service would be restored within 24 hours at the very most. I have heard all of this before!

Today, the power having been off a record 9 hours, I was desperate to start work the second in flashed back on but….lo and behold……the EVO was in a 1 minute on, 10 minutes off frame of mind and, after trying and trying and failing to get it to behave I phoned EVO to enquire – politely at first – what was the status of complaint Number 63. The idiot I finally managed to get to speak to, after having gone through the entire silly rigmarole, which is already on record, yet again, had the audacity to first get my EVO MDN number wrong and then, once, after having repeated it at least a dozen times, he managed to get it right, told me that my EVO is registered to someone called ‘Omar’- ‘Omar’ whoever he happens to be- and completely refused to accept that, despite my providing him, yet again, with all necessary information, that my EVO belongs to me, as does the landline connection installed all of 17 years ago, as does the cell phone number, as does everything else he had no right to ask about and, at which point, I lost my temper. He, with an unintelligible name, I expect this was mumbled on purpose, then had the cheek to tell me that even though they promised to fix it  in 24 hours, he would lodge a new complaint after 9 p.m. and it would get fixed by tomorrow!!!! I mean….come on!!!!!

Having told him that the original 24 hours would expire in exactly 20 minutes time so he had 20 minutes to fix it or deal with the editor waiting for my story – I think -just possibly although time will tell – the connection may have finally been fixed as it hasn’t disappeared for the last 25 minutes but…..I am left wondering as to the identity of ‘Omar’ and I guess I better find out!

The motto of the story being: PTCL/EVO get your act together please as other options are becoming available fast!

The writer has authored a book titled The Gun Tree:  One Woman’s War and lives in Bhurban.