All Talk and No Action Wednesday, April 23, 2008



We might have become an "open" and 'liberalized" economy in 1990s, however Babudom still exists in the country. No, I am not talking about our courts, public health care or PDS! Here I refer to the State Registrar's office which is frequented by people for agreements pertaining to buying or selling property, rental agreements and other such stuff.

Most offices in the country are supposed to open at 9. However, Government offices are exempt from such innocuous rules. This one opened at 11. Immediately, all agents, brokers and Aam Janta of different ages and sizes mobbed the Registrar's room. There was free expression of abusive language and curses. A nudge here, a push there. Finally, people managed to get their token numbers and time slots.

This was ensued by a mini earthquake wherein most people attacked and claimed the few plastic chairs kept for visitors. My Dad managed to get one for me and asked me to wait while he got a few formalities sorted out. I sat down and resigned myself to the newspaper. I tried to feign interest in India's Growth versus Inflation stories. However, it was tough as my surroundings screamed for attention !

The whole setup was within the lobby of a dingy building. The place reeked of sweat and urine. Creaked walls, leakage, cobwebs were the hallmarks of this building. Most rooms were lined with hundreds of files and loose shacks of papers on racks. Prime Property being wasted ! So much for IT and digitization !

The wall above me was adorned by pictures of a Dancing Lord Ganesha under the Caption "Krupa Yethe Thunku Naka" (For the un-initiated it means 'please do not spit here' ). What civic and common sense fail to achieve in India, God readily does. I thanked Lord Ganesha for sparing me a vomit session.

My Dad informed me that our turn would be coming at 12.30 pm. Mental calculation told me that spending more than an hour is such a dreary place would be nothing short of capital punishment !

As I fidgeted and fretted, the man sitting opposite me was dozing off - half seated, half sliding - ready to fall off. I wanted to shake him - lest he fall off the chair. However, I decided against it. With so much mess around me, I needed a healthy dose of wicked laughter and what better thing to laugh at than a man who falls with a thud ! From then on, my mind got some entertainment as I waited in anticipation for the man to fall. Alas, that was not to happen as he was jerked away by his agent.


Things moved in super slow motion from then on. The continuous drone of the fan overhead, the buzzing of the bee, the slow groan of a pump drilling close by were enough to make my blood boil. A glance at the sea of human faces around me was enough to dampen the sunniest of spirits. Morose faces, puckered noses, drooping eyes, tired yawns - all waiting their turns patiently. All this, while the Janta ke Sevaks took their own sweet time, chewed on tobacco and shared stupid jokes on cells. The whole scene resembled an eerie art movie with no imminent ending in sight !

As the clock struck 12.30, I breathed a sigh of relief ! Finally, we would be done and could leave this dreary place. However, the Babus were not done with me I guess. Our turn took eons to come. As the minutes ticked by, I realized with growing agitation that this was not to be. How right I was ! At 12.45, people were turned away - "Lunch ke baad aana".

Dad and I exchanged knowing glances. He was patient as he had dealt with babus since ages. However, I was crestfallen - the whole place screamed "Lethargy" and "Inefficiency" and I did not have the patience for such human foibles.

As I dragged myself home wards, my eyes fell on the cleanest and shiniest place in the building - the board which read -

Government Of Maharashtra
Office of the Joint Superintendent & Sub Registrar


5 comments:

indiaunbound said...

:-D

You should write for Office-Office lol !!

The working of "Steel Frame" now better known as "Steal Frame" can indeed be frustrating but we have reconciled us to this situation.

The man, who was about to fall and was your source of entertainment, would have been probably as frustrated as you when he first visited any Govt office but now he could just nicely doze off.

This really scares me...

Shyam said...

Well that sounds so familiar...my dad is involved in a fair bit of contruction work, so i have had my share of such trips either to get the registraion done or to get a license...some imp take aways for me---- if you want your job to be done then you have to pay! from the clerk till the last person to put his signature, if you are not willing to do that then be prepared to wait for ever and ever; never go there without an agent he knows best how and where to take you: never act as a babu as well otherwise the price tag will increase
Discl: i dont support bribing and in most cases go against it but have seen that for registration and licensing purpose specially in calcutta government offices there isnt a way around it :(

namrata said...

nice post..anything that is to do with government is slow and it takes ages for you to get things done.and even more interesting is the fact that they themselves will tell u "office gyaaraa baje khulta hai.ye govt office hai".as if thats something to be awarded a padmabhushan for. At mumbai university too u feel as if boss u have done a grave mistake by being a part of the university... i gave one of the most funny exams... the question paper that we got had both sides printed.... one was old course and one was revised course.. none of us was aware as to which was the course we had to attempt. rounds of discussions were going on in the class where some students said ide students had to write old course and some said revised course... it took 15 mins for the professor to find out that it was choice of the student and that we could attempt any paper we were well prepared for... obviously no extra time was alloted for the 15 mins that had passed.. choice between 2 papers... now thats wht we call Indian education system!!

All Talk and No Action said...

@Indiaunbound
Thanks for the compliment...

@Shyam
I know..its very difficult for businesses to fare w/o hurdles in India...It takes more than 90 days to set up business, cross the red tape
Whats shameful is our neighbours Like Pak, Bangla & Lanka fare better on this count...

@Namrata
How true ! There is not an iota of shame these people have...From The Top Brass to the lowly chaprasi...all feel they OWN the country and have a birthright to loot the masses

sethdremz said...

Nice description of the place..well to be frank if ani 1 of us has at ani time visited a govt office i can assur u the features & description always remains d same...no matter if the Govt boasts about computerisation or we swear on the fact that guys we have a GDP growt rate of 8 to 9%(yipee!!)..the fact is "Hum Nahi Sudharain Ge"...and by Hum i mean we.. not the govt nor public servants...coz 2 sum extent even we r responsible for their lax attitude..coz we take it from them..i rembr once my mom had sm wrk in MTNL office..well so there she was at the office tryingto figure out which dept to approach..coz they were mking her go 4m one place to another round & round like a merry go round...so what she does well true to the Taurian style (trust me she is much more head strong thn any one)..she justs storms in the Head of dept's office & gives him a pice of her mind (trust me if she speaks..the opposite party is gone ...doomed!!! crashed!!! Kaboomed!!!)..and voila she sits in his office..her entire work gets done...now wat m trying to say is not 2 go and strt yelling at the officers (she can do it coz she is expeienced in such matters..and we wold be simply thrown out if we try so!!)..but we can atleast try to put up against such slack attitude of theirs..i kno its easier said thn done..bt may be in our hearts we all will feel better that we r a part of a social responsible group!!!!

Lets try...its not bad thn never tryng!!

Cheers ..
(P.S:The comments mentioned are writers own and he holds the right to change them with out prior warning...Adios!!!)