Saturday, July 12

The frayed ends of sanity

In any situation that requires order, discipline and efficiency, we as Indians tend to fail. Yes, not everyone would qualify, but this is a country of 1.5 billion and counting, so that's pretty obvious. Most do qualify and that's where the problem lies. At heart, Indians are a peculiar kind of barbarian.

I use that word carefully because I ran through a whole gamut of them including ignorant country bumpkin, animal, savage, and so on and so forth, but using any of those tags would be unfair. Plenty of villagers in India understand order, discipline and efficiency. They're smart, self-sacrificing and hard-working. Similarly, animals have their own rules so to compare the typical unruly Indian mob to animals is pretty stupid. Even barbarians could very well have imbibed any of the characteristics I believe we as Indians purposefully choose to ignore. The word 'savage' is distasteful and again, stupid because indigenous people follow their own laws and that's their business. So, I chose to qualify 'barbarian' with 'peculiar'.

It is rather peculiar how we're bloody keen to raise hackles if anyone passes uncharitable remarks about us as people or a country and yet, go out of our way to behave without a fig leaf of decorum when given a chance to do so. I was at the passport office yesterday. The procedure clearly states that one must be at the office 15 minutes before the appointment. Yet, a whole mob of buffoons dutifully arrived much later than the stipulated time and then began gehraoing the solitary security officer at the gate to let them in. They did this, not by forming a queue, mind, but by milling around as if they were at a market auction. Meanwhile, the actual queue, self included, watched with increasing resignation and horror as the guard, distracted by those ass*****, delayed our getting in. Then some chump with a wife and baby in tow decided to browbeat the security guard, demanding that he be let in as he was on time. To which the guard exclaimed "Praise be to Jeebus" and welcomed him in. I'm joking of course.   

Once inside, there were more lines to stand in. Again, random chappies and chicklets would waltz past, assuming that their paperwork was more important than anyone else's. The passport officers were, in general, polite and helpful, which is about all that can be said in the circumstances. Even that lot threw in the occasional googly. Take for instance, this archaic shit called the Emigration Check - Required or Not Required, that is the question, to take a feather from Bill Shakespeare's cap.

I'd come to renew the passport. It was still valid; the address hadn't changed; there were stamped visas to various countries, so essentially, it should be smooth sailing, I thought. I thought wrong. The bloke at the counter asks me if I'd brought my 10th and 12th mark sheets with me. At the age of 31, heaven only knows why in blazes I need to prove educational qualifications, so of course I hadn't brought them along. I wasn't in any mood to be browbeaten by that bunch either, because believe it or not, I consider passports more a right than a privilege. Which is not the officially approved attitude so I was made to do the pinball dance which involves me being tossed around various queues, just because of the dratted ECR/ECNR nonsense. When I asked the tosser who raised the issue what the ECR was for, he didn't know. Fancy that.

As I waited, all I could see was people milling around, breaking and jumping lines, yelling, not having the plethora of required documentation (which can include house deeds, birth certificates and even albums of photos, who knows?), missing their token numbers on the screen, etc. It was exhausting being there but at least it was clean and air-conditioned. After 3 hours, I finally submitted my documents, exited and then realised I'd left my new brolly at the final counter, which meant I had to go through all the rings of fire once again. At least I found it.

Now I am waiting for that delightfully strange exercise called the Police Verification to be completed. It makes no sense to me because the coppers are supposed to show up any time they fancy and I'm expected to be home. Don't people have jobs? Or, I don't know, errands to run? Who is crazy enough to be hanging around at home in anticipation? What would Jeebus do?
Oh, and the ECR crap - apparently, if there's a stamp which says that an emigration check is required, I can't work in the Gulf. I guess I'll be crying myself to sleep about that. Not.

Song for the moment: Hard Times - Eric Clapton

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