Everyone warned us that it would be at least two weeks before we’d get telephone and broadband service installed in our new apartment. However, no one explained to us that because of where we live, as our cable sales rep tried to politely explain it, it’d take up to a month. “You mean its difficult to get service in London,” I reiterated to the embarrassed salesperson, with all the innuendo I could muster. “Yes,” they replied, sounding relieved that I understood the subtext of what I was being told. “I am so, so sorry.”
Nothing, however, prepared me for this Western Union poster I discovered at the local Internet cafe I’ve been using. Placed next to phone booths advertising low-cost calls to locations such as the West Indies and South Asia, the pointed, culturally specific character of the ad stands outs. He may be dressed up as a bee, but this Sikh is still a metaphorical insect. While I’m used to ethnically directed commerce in the US, such overtly cartoonish moments had become a thing of memory. Not so for Americans and their firms abroad.