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We are currently staying in India, but neither of our phones work, which is annoying when trying to hire taxis, for instance, or meet up with people. Purchasing a phone/sim will take 7-10 days to go through so we can't do it.

In the US there are usually pay phones in train stations or street corners but I haven't seen any here.

What's the best way to get/borrow/use a phone? Is there a convention in India that I don't know about? Ask random people on the street? Can you pay the people at the mobile phone recharge shops to use one of theirs?

  • Are you staying in a hotel, a private residence, camping? – Flimzy Apr 15 '14 at 17:08
  • Private residence... it's mostly a problem when we're out and about without access to wireless internet. – Kevin Burke Apr 15 '14 at 17:16
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Well now a days as cellphones are so much popular you won't find many telephone booths. You may find some in the rail stations but they are rare. The best options would be to go to the nearest phone recharge centers where they will let you call with some money.

Also In India many stores lend their cellphones for calling with some extra money. It may not look like a phone booth but it works. If You are calling a public number (Taxi or so) and you know the approximate billing rate in India you can ask a shop keeper for it.

Now a days it takes less than 2 days to get a SIM card in most Indian cities. So I would advice you to take it if you are planning to stay for more than a month.

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I really don't understand the need. If you have an unlocked phone, getting a SIM card is almost as easy as buying groceries. I do it every time I go there.

Typically the pre-paid SIM card costs Rs 15($0.25) and can be used in a couple of hours after being bought. Also costs are quite low at about Rs 1.2($0.02) per minute.

Service providers usually vary with the region, but Vodafone and Airtel will work almost anywhere. Cellphone connectivity is amazing in India with very low operational costs.

I would highly suggest you to just go and get a SIM card. If you're in dire need, asking someone is the way locals usually do it.

We don't do payphones usually and to be honest they are quite rare.

  • I was told it would take 7-10 days to register and have the paperwork processed. I am not an Indian citizen. – Kevin Burke Jul 30 '14 at 17:38
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    You can buy a preactivated sim card from one of the markets. No need to bother with the official procedure. – JonathanReez Jul 31 '14 at 5:18

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