Dear DeMo from Delhi (sorry Chief, this fortnight’s column begins with the same obeisance as the last but The Man from Madras Musings cannot help it) is all for Government offices changing their ways if his speeches are to be believed. MMM who belongs neither to the loony left nor the bovine sorry divine right, takes some and leaves the others but in this matter he is one with DDD, namely that Government offices need to change their ways. And what little experience he has had of them leaves him (MMM and not DDD), with the view that they cannot get any worse. MMM is not sure about you guys and gals out there but he tries to avoid going to any Government office as far as possible. The seats will always be in short supply as will be drinking water, ventilation and, of course, toilets. And the older MMM gets, the more he finds he needs all of the above, right through the day. And it was therefore with a sinking feeling that MMM heard his good lady (also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed) announcing one morning last week that he (MMM not DDD) had to be at the registrar’s. There was property being either bought or sold, MMM forgets which.
It was in vain that MMM suggested that his good lady handle the matter herself. She has, in his view, a way with Government offices that MMM can only marvel at. A tout or two will invariably tackle what are known as pourparlers on her behalf and by the time she arrives, everything will be well handled barring the beating of drums and blowing of trumpets, not to forget the shouting and cheering. MMM on the other hand, on the occasions that he has been on his own to such places, has invariably hung around for hours in numerous queues only to have the officer concerned tell him that he (MMM) had forgotten to bring document number 393 section E which as is well known is mandated in rule 543 (xiii) subsection 67 (amendment F) and without which all Government machinery will grind to a halt. And so can MMM come back again with the document, duly signed by a gazetted officer in triplicate?
The visit this time proved no different. The office was located exactly where any right-thinking architect would have placed the latrines in a public building. The only light possible came via electricity as did air. The number of people waiting to see whoever it was outnumbered the available seats by a ratio of 2:1. The corners were all rendered red by years of betel juice being spat at them. The counters had notices warning visitors to not use cell phones. But either this was a mere formality or everyone other than MMM was illiterate, for the place was abuzz with calls being made and received.
It was 10.00 am and there was no sign of any officer or clerk. Enquiries half an hour later revealed that everyone had gone off to attend a wedding of their colleague and the office would begin functioning at 11. A clock, that was far ahead of everything else, showed the time to be 1.00 pm. MMM reflected that this could be the time of the previous day.
The staff trickled in eventually, at around 11.30, all of them looking well fed. Some of the staff had brought their children along. The summer vacations having begun, this was their idea of taking their children out on an excursion. The children duly sat on the chairs meant for their parents and each one began to play with a cell phone, completely ignoring the others in the room. But that did not prevent the lower orders in this office from trying to befriend the children, no doubt with a hope to curry some favour with the parents later. The offspring later moved off to a room that resembled the Black Hole, not that it mattered to them as long as the cell phones received signals. MMM also noticed that the children were seated there in exactly the same order of precedence as their hierarchy and seniority-obsessed parents. Work began by 12.00 noon. MMM finished his business by 1.00 pm. The only improvement he noticed was that thumb impressions were now taken digitally and not with the horrid black ink that like Lady Macbeth’s spots could never by wiped off.
you can read of MMM’s earlier adventures with registrars here