What do STD shops in India sell?

Last Updated on April 1, 2012 by Christine Kaaloa

STD Shops in India
STD Shops in India: It’s not a shop to contract sexually transmitted diseases


You see them advertised everywhere in India. They’re posted on banners outside shops, lining highway roadsides, in towns and in busy cities.

To travelers, the abbreviations are misleading. They’re not what we know them as in the U.S.

In India, STD is short for Subscriber Trunk Dialing or when you dial any number within India, without operator assistance.

ISD is International Subscriber Dialing and is meant for dialing internationally, outside of India.

The abbreviations are advertised at shops, where you can place phone calls at cheap rates,… not contract “Sexually. Transmitted. Diseases“. If you don’t have a phone, you can make a call from these shops and it can be cheap.

How cheap?

Sometimes, it’s as low as a rupee per minute to a number outside the area or free if you’re calling a local landline number!

Why do I know this?

It’s hard not having a phone in India, especially when you need to want to meet up with friends or call guesthouses to book reservations.  I was forced to hit the streets in search of  an STD shop (aka calling shops), because my Vodaphone SIM at the time, sucked.


STD shops in India
STD shops: Local calls are 1 rupee a minute

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  • Haha, funny post! When my sister and I were travelling through India we stopped to pose at these phone stands. We had some good laughs over it… 😀

  • That is funny. I am from Nepal and we use the same abbreviations for different calls within the country and outside the country. I never noticed the second meaning of STD until one friend of my college who went to Nepal brought back the photos from different shops that had the signs of STD and ISD. He thought it was hilarious and was having a good laugh out of it.

    • @rashmi: Cultural misinterpretations are fun! It creates a space for your imagination to go haywire! Though you know it can’t mean there are shops selling STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) it opens the gateway for fun!

  • I remember these places so well. I think I spent 2 days trying to buy a sim card from one of them in New Delhi. That was after a half day of being stuck in wooden box cubicle listing to beeps and crackles of telephone exchanges.

    Never mind about the sticky keypads!!

    • @Dave: Ewww.. sticky keypads! I wonder if you could get STDs from them? Yeah, I don’t think I’d go into those “booths”. Went into a local internet/call place near a bus station in a small Indian town. All male (w/ the except of me) and 97% on girlie sites. A bit humorous as every Asian internet joint i’ve been to before India, was filled with boys addicted to video games. Sadly, w/ the India joint, it wasn’t even porn they were looking at but just chicks in bikinis. My heart kinda went out to them. They were staring really hard at those photos, as if those bikinis would melt off. But I digress…

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