Surviving Red Tape
Ive always heard stories of how troublesome it is to get any work done from an Indian government office even if it means just a signature! I always like to give people some benefit of doubt and therefore had chosen to think that they were all exaggerated versions of reality. But today I know for sure that it’s an experience only those who have been struck will be able to faithfully identify with.
Recently I had the misfortune of joining one such government institute for PhD and even greater misfortune of having to get my admission paperwork done from its office!!!! According to ancient Indian astrological science there is one particular planetary position where Saturn shrouds down with unprecedented vengeance and it lasts for 7 1/2 years! Saare saati is the name given to this untoward phenomena. I now firmly believe that you can live all those 7 years and get done with it if you survive just one such visits. After all it does take a very unfavourable planetary position to make one have any business in a government office in India in the first place.
So here was I basking in the glory of having made it to one of the premiere institutes in the country, all ready with my acceptance letter walking towards the office.Thats when I came across
Torture1: Queue i
nvariable and as complicated as its spelling. At some points along it u’ll see clusters while at others u’ll find bifurcations giving rise to ‘queuelets’. Goes without saying the end of it will be so split it can put any shovel to shame. I was already hypoglycemic by the time I survived the queue and went in.
Torture 2: Wrong number!!
The person you walk upto first can NEVER EVER be the person you should go to!! He will look at your papers with utmost indifference and will twitch every muscle of his face with so much disappointment that u’ll feel u’ve missed a clue of whom to go to as obvious as a picture of that person in those sheets !! With this he will just point a finger and say “not here, that side”. So keen you would be at that point to not interact with him any further that you will grab your papers and take his leave and THAT’S IT!! You have stepped into quick sand. You will realize the room is teaming with his clones even more indifferent and virulent!! From this moment onwards you’ll be reduced to a snooker ball impacting randomly on the walls of the board.
My honest advice is you pay extra attention to each part of the person’s designation you are supposed to meet. I wonder which jobless sadist ever had the time and the crookedness to have come up with such complicated and partial designations in the first place!! ‘special officer’ and worse still ‘super special officer’. Hit by the shear variety of the designations, the goof-up magnet that I am, I conveniently forgot the oh-so-important prefix ‘super’. Actually I did not anticipate there could be more variety to the already exotic post of special officer!! So when the man at the desk asked me whether I was looking for super special officer I quite involuntarily said “No I think he is less special”!! It was really a harmless slip of tongue with no derogatory intentions whatsoever but why should those clones believe me. So what followed was an uninvited lecture on how insolent I was and how all of them were sitting there just to make life easy for the students. You bet.
Torture 3: The Cascade.
Well even if you are looking for just a signature let me assure you it can never be a single step process. It will be a cascade of specimens each of who will feast on a little of your flesh and some of whose job may be even, just putting a pencil mark on your documents! (wonder how it feels to be employed to make undefined pencil marks on peoples document all your life).Therefore I feel they have found ways and means to hone their egos. This particular person told me I have to go to one particular Mr. Krupalingaswamy and I as usual thanked him and started my hunt for Mr.Kripaswamy nah krupa somethimg swamy …oops noooo karunaswamy..yessssssssss karunalingaswamy …. Ummm I guess…anyways there was “swamy” for sure!! Armed with this remnant of a name in mind I sure was doomed to meet all permutations and combinations of names that ended with swamy. I wish names were simpler and shorter and not deviously designed to prey on people with goldfish memories like me .But beat this, a tired defeated me finally found out that Mr.whateverswamy was placed strategically right opposite to the villain who had asked me to go to him !!!!
By this time it was already 12:45pm, very 1:00pm by IST (Indian stretchable time)and this is when all government employed blobs(that’s the only shape most of them take with years of incubating their chairs) add succor to their brains so that they can invent even more innovative ways “to make life easy for the students” !
Torture 4: procrastinate NOW
The day you get your work done in a days time from a place like this, President Bush will stop bearing the burden of world peace on his lonely shoulders, balaji soaps will start make sense and ofcourse random men will stop posting demented ‘fiendship’(friendship) requests on orkut. My final man told me to come two weeks later. I dint know whether to be upset that the work didn’t get done after all or should I jump for joy that I was granted respite for a fortnight at least. This particular specimen I later learnt through experience and campus gossip had a habit of saying “come after 15days” like a Tourette’s tic. Infact during a later encounter when I had gone to enquire why my stipend had not been deposited , he had told me on the 21st of the month to, yes as expected “come after 15 days”. This time around I, who had already earned the coveted title of Ms. insolent, told him “Yes Sir, I will, but that will be for the next months stipend”. That was the only time he had cared to look at me.
At present I am wrapping up from this institute of exquisite experience. Goes without saying the office will make sure it’s a very painful (literally) adios. Wish me luck and I promise to document the remaining tortures for you someday.