Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Chronicles of a Govt. Office (Part 2)

After the first day of unilateral disappointments (Link to Part 1), my idea of corruption and inefficiency in the present govt. structure perpetuated. Anyway the next couple of days and the anti-climax after that had deepened it further.

Day 15

5.00 pm

By virtue of my first visit I had already known by now that the NOC (or the 'Particulars' as they call it at the office) distribution process would start after 5.00 pm. So, I planned my travel accordingly and reached the RTO office around 5.00 pm on 21st April. Even though Mr. D asked me to come 3 days later, I recalculated the usual delay in govt. office, the don't care attitude of most of the govt. officials towards the normal people, and the inherent inefficiency in the system and thus decided to visit the office after good 14 days of my first visit. I had high hopes of getting my work done on that day itself. As usual the process was running late and it did not start yet. I waited there with my hands giving support to my cheek while I bend over the counter to get a sight of Mr. D. Suddenly he appeared from front with a half burn beedi, between his fingers, pointing towards me. I asked him to come as I had a question to ask. I showed him my receipt of application copy and asked him to give my NOC. He stood perplexed and puzzled and after just 5 secs returned my copy and asked me to come back again after 3 days.

6.00 pm

I was determined this time to know the real reason behind this. I tried to reason with him on the basis of reality and expectation. I told him that notwithstanding the fact I came to collect my NOC after 14 days whereas I was asked to do the same after 3-4 days only, I still could not get the work done. I told him that I was not from Kolkata, and I had to go through an exhaustive travel of 3.5 hours by local train, metro, bus to reach the office. Hence, I demanded a realistic deadline from him. He felt bulldozed by the sturdiness of my arguments and asked me my copy of receipt again and after some search here and there in the corners of the files he asked me to come 2 days later. I felt that I was getting habituated to this treatment when the disappointment from this incident transformed itself into my indifference towards the behavior of Mr. D. It was already 6.30 pm by then and I rushed out of the office with a hope of catching the Hasnabad Local (local train to my place) of 7.45 pm from Sealdah station.


Day 20

5.00 pm

Now the D-day had come. It was 26th April. I had high expectation this time as usual. But for a change the day seemed like a more optimistic one. I entered into the office, found Mr. D with the usual proceedings and asked him about my case. He asked for the receipt. For a change instead of giving a disappointing reply, he gave me my NOC (or rather 'Particulars' as they call it). I was overjoyed, my hands almost wanted to go out into the air while I looked at the piece of paper like it was the most important paper of my life. After performing my 'due diligence' with Mr. D, I left the office hoping that it was the last time I had to visit that ramshackle structure again in my life. 

Thus, such a small and insignificant work like getting a printout of your driving license details can be so strenuous, exhausting, disappointing in a set up of a govt. office. 


Epilogue

The aftermath of getting the NOC turned out to be an anti-climax. When I tried to submit this piece of paper ('Particulars' as they named it at Alipore RTO) as an NOC from my previous license jurisdiction office, it was rejected as a document that can act as an NOC. The officials at the new office said that the phrase 'NOC' as not written anywhere in the document. Hence, it would not work. All the pains that I bore all these days in local train, in heat wave at the streets of Kolkata, the disappointment at the ignorance of the govt officials and similar other things came to a void instantly. I felt that I was sitting on a floor and the arrows of derision were coming towards me from all the govt offices around me.

(I want to throw just one caveat at the end of this post. Not all govt. employees are same. Few do act in the favor of common people. But the sheer majority of the other type has made inefficiency and corruptness synonymous to the public institutions.)