And they say it’s only available in the US. As if the Indians, masters of technology, wouldn’t be able to have it before it’s officially released.
I jumped on the bandwagon a few glorious days ago. Here’s 24 hours in my Indian Pokemon Go life:
Wednesday 5pm (Monsoon Season):
I get data in the market from the uncle who I always get data from. I just walk in and he says, “Airtel 3G?” and I say “Haanji, 295rupees (~$4.50)” and type my number in his phone and in a minute I have data. I start playing in the market and catch a Pokemon. Then the rain starts. It’s monsoon season so it rains really hard for about 20-30 minutes at least once a day. I start walking back in the rain but by the time I’m near by house it’s just a drizzle so I continue walking in the raining, soaking wet, finding Pokemon. I catch 3. People are staring at me, probably wondering why this white chick is walking around a neighborhood aimlessly soaking wet, but people stare at me all the time anyway so I don’t mind.
A man drives up next to me in his car and rolls down the window. “Do you need help?” he asks. I debate asking he if I can sit in the back while he drives around slowly so I can catch more Pokemon without getting my phone wet. Instead I say “No, I’m okay, thank you” Just keep driving, I’m trying to catch my third Rattata today but it’s difficult throwing pokeballs when your screen is covered in rain.
Thursday 1pm (Gotta Catch ‘Em All Uber style)
I decide to go to the gym over my lunch break and then meet my colleague, Priya, at her house to finish some work. The Uber to the gym takes about 30 minutes. Luckily, in India, the traffic is bad enough that the Ubers typically go slowly and stop frequently. I caught six Pokemon inside my Uber to the gym. Then three more on the stairs to the gym. It’s a good day.
Thursday 2 pm (Indians and Pokemon Go)
I walk from the gym to Priaya’s house (about a 20 minute walk). While walking on the service lane in her neighborhood, a car pulls up next to me and is driving really slow. Shit. It’s probably some guys who think I’m a prostitute. I’m dressed in gym clothes but white girls don’t really walk down the street in Panchkula, India. So the assumption happens. Or just that I’m easy because I’m white. I mean, guys harass Indian girls, too. Everyone deals with it. So I stare at my phone and walk by the car quickly without looking. Nothing happens.
The cars moves forward, passing me, and then stops again. Maybe it’s a family just lost in the neighborhood? I stealthily look into the car as I pass this time, making sure to avoid contact. It’s a young man. Alone. On his phone. WAIT IS HE PLAYING POKEMON GO?!?!
The car drives off. Slowly. So slowly. But for a split second I’m sure I see the Pokemon Go style map on his phone.
No. It can’t be. It was probably Google Maps and he’s looking for directions and I just so want it to be Pokemon Go that I’m imagining things.
I decided he is probably just lost. I also decide I’m still going to tell everyone he was playing Pokemon Go while driving around because that’s just so Indian to me.
He turns down a street. I keep waking and playing. The car drives back down a street near me. I cross in front of it. I stop and look at him. He looks at me. I squint my eyes suspiciously. Are you one of us?
He drives down the road slowly. I realize I’m so involved in the game I’ve missed the turn for Priya’s house. I backtrack. On the road are a lot of government school children walking home from school. I can recognize them by the uniforms. I wonder if they will wonder what I am doing when I stop to-yes! My phone is buzzing I’m going to get another one!
I’m almost at Priya’s house, annoyed that, while most “stores” are Mundirs (Hindu temples) or Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) the Mundir next to Priya’s house is not.
So I can’t get more Pokemon balls. Why doesn’t she live near that big tank war memorial which is a Pokemon Store. Priya, you’re killing me with your living location. Then….Wait….that’s the same car again?!
There he was. Parked in front of the Jaat Bhavan, swiping his finger wildly in an upwards direction. I started laughing. He is playing Pokemon Go in his car!!! He’s driving around looking for Pokemon. In his car! At 2pm on a Thursday! That’s so Indian! Who does that?
At that very moment my phone buzzes and I see a Pidgey and realize I do that. I play Pokemon at 2pm on a Thursday.
As I’m standing in the middle of the road swiping he drives up closer and rolls down his window.
“Are you playing Pokemon?!”
“YES! I TOTALLY KNEW YOU WERE PLAYING!” I’m seriously so excited I want to go hug him. But I also know that’s not appropriate in India. One of his Pokemon is evolving so he sticks his phone out the window to show me and I run over to watch. Then a Zubat appears. I always have a hard time with those even though they are “green” and “easy.”
“Are you finding any over here?” He asks
“Yeah, hold on, there is one by your head.”
We chat a bit. Cars keep honking at me for standing in the middle of the street. I say I didn’t know the app was available here yet. He says he has had it since it came out last week and has 33 Pokemon. He asks how many I have and I say I don’t know (23 and I just started yesterday). I tell him I’m from the US. He asks what I’m doing in India. I fight the urge to say “collecting rare Pokemon.”
I go to Priya’s house to do work and he continues driving around. I walk completely past her house I’m so engaged. Then I knock on the wrong door since I find one on her stairs and I forget where she lives.
I find another Zubat in a pile of garbage.
India, these are the days I’m in love with you….
Update: I finally ran out of Pokeballs and went to what was labeled as “The British Library” but actually is the back entrance to a restaurant to get more. Very cultural.