Went to the Passport office for the second time today. Yesterday they were not happy with the papers that I had taken proving that I was indeed divorced. they wanted all the papers ; and in a way it was my mistake that I did not take the whole bundle of papers giving gory details of what he did and what I did and why the heck the judge passed the order for the divorce, etc, etc. I felt weird handing over those papers citing unpleasant and intimate details of our lives to people to who these would not matter one bit, save for administrative purposes. But then, it had to be done. Left a deep distaste in my mouth.
Anyway, what I have at the end of these two days are several thoughts and reflections about myself and about the whole process:
the government has at least in this process of passport application, become much more tech savvy and much more organised. Gone are the days when government offices meant stacks of old, dusty files, babus sitting on the wooden chairs chewing paan or picking their teeth, etc and actually not working. This was not so at all, and was a very different picture – the office was clean, well lit, well organised and the process was efficient and went like clockwork. There were people who were helpful and whose job was to actually help people. However, some of the staff’s attitude were just like the old days, grumpy, gruff and almost to the point of being rude rather than helpful. surprisingly these were younger people in their twenties perhaps. the older people were much nicer and polite.
for me some of the reflective points were that being there I realised how afraid am I at the prospect of dealing with bureaucracy because:
a. I believe they are out there to not be helpful but to cause more trouble!! this is a questionable assumption!
b. I feel like an outsider in Karnataka – hence fear and trepidation.
c. that my current lifestyle makes me almost cut off from the ground reality and that makes me an alien – I travel by car, go from one city to the other by air and rarely ever walk on the road. I shop at the supermarkets, phone order the grocery or provision and hardly have any touch with people who are walking on the road, travelling by bus, I rarely know the neighbours who live outside the gated community or the vendors around or even the neighbourhood where I live in. In the past when I lived a much more middle class life, I don’t remember feeling this cut off. It made me wonder about being in touch with reality. What is the reality and how do I define it today? Surely I have friends but almost all of them belong to the same social class and as such I am still bound within a certain category.
I am not regretting or decrying my class therefore, I am who I am today and I would not like to be anyone else now. However, for me this was a revelation of what it may potentially do to me and has done already and therefore I am more conscious and aware of its implications. I don’t like what I see but this revelation does give me a sense of direction for myself.
6 thoughts on “To Stand Aside!”
It paints a very depressed view of life.
My impression about you has been totally different.
@mazumdarb: hi thank you for reading and commenting on the post. I do not feel depressed about life at all, but it is interesting that you perceive my post that way. Something to mull over for me. 🙂
I understand how you feel at Government offices. There have been few occasions I have taken a trip to the police station for some verification work. I was nervous as hell, as though I have committed a crime. Only to see around, other sections of society less affected and may have more to be worried about. I sometimes think, that the progression from middle to upper-middle makes me so – A little aloof and fearful. I at most times, try to break free from this feeling and walk in a crowd….
@ruchi: hey, thank you for commenting. You got the spirit of what I was trying to convey. I believe there is a lack of connect that I experience today and consequently more apprehensive, that I did not feel earlier. This insight has also made me aware of the implications of this alienation and has given me a sense of direction to reconnect with people, ground realities as it is and the society of which I am a part. Thank you for understanding.
Sharbori – I can exactly feel and understand the specific point on younger govt staff, being less helpful. For a traffic violation, normally some peon from office goes and deposits the Rs.100, but that day was a Saturday. Checked on the back, voila, there was a bank branch which takes such fines on behalf of the Calcutta cops near my home. Went there, asked for help from a senior guy – he pointed to a young chap and asked me to talk to him. The young guy, looked like he had just started working. He did not even even look up and pointed his head in a direction and muttered “humph”. This got my goat! I raised my voice and told him in no uncertain terms about his poor attitude! Hearing my voice the older chap came running, tried to cool me down and finally said that the person who handles the fines would be available after noon. I left in huff and logged onto Cal police website, there i found I could pay the fine online!
All this makes me feel that with the advance of technology, we are less dependent on humans, which in turn makes us forget the nicer aspects of life.
Hi Indranil, good to read your response here. I can inderstand how upset you felt.
I was actually quite surprised by some (not all) of the younger staffs attitude, whe the older ones were polite and very efficient. Also unless we make a visit or need to find out, we dont often realise how tech savvy some or may all the government departments have become. I felt quite good with the efficient response yesterday.