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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    May 18, 2005

    An experience to savour at the Indiranagar RTO

    After reading Atanu Dey's experience with the Pune policemen, I had to share my experience last Friday at the Regional Transport Office (RTO) at Indiranagar, Bangalore.

    I needed to take a learner's license so that I can go for my car driving lessons. I'd already been through driving lessons three years ago but due to sheer laziness, I forgot to give the driving test before the learner's license lapsed. Now that my back has been pounded several times due to my long journeys to Bannerghatta Road, and the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Krithi to manage Jaagruthi from the pillion seat on my bike, I had to make progress on my license so that I could eventually buy a car.

    The driving school guy took photos from me, asked me to fill out a form and then left me, along with two other hopefuls, at the RTO. Apparently we needed to sign in front of an official so that our learner's license could be processed. We joined the queue, which already had over 100 people in it, at 1030 am. After over an hour of waiting, with the words "abhi dilli door hai" reverberating in my head, one of the chaps who'd come along with us said that he had stood in the queue the previous day. So I asked him what on earth he was doing going through the ordeal again? He said that the counter had closed for lunch the previous day at noon. There were many people in front of him in the queue. He had made a few inquiries and people either said that the counter would open at 2 pm or that they had no clue and it depended on the whims and fancies of the staff. He chose to exit and come back the next day.

    Apparently a day is not a long time in Indian government institutions. Which is why he was standing in the same queue the next day, with no respite in sight. The queue meandered through the corridor. Ours wasnt the only queue. There was one for those taking the learner's license driving safety test, one for changing the address on your vehicle registration certificate, one for paying the road tax, one for the master, one for the dame and of course, one for the little boy who lived down the lane. You get the picture!

    As the clock struck twelve, I began to wonder if the counter would be closed indefinitely, as it apparently had been the previous day. The officials then acted with feigned urgency. One chap walked the entire length of the queue to collect everyone's forms. I had hopes that he'd put them on the desk of the officer who'd painstakingly sign every one of those forms. Then this chap would come around the queue, collecting our signatures and the entire drama would be over soon. Obviously I was wrong, for the chap was not to be seen for a while. I walked to the start of the queue, hoping to check if that fellow really worked at the RTO or not. I did spot him, and it did seem like he worked at the RTO. But I was prevented from going any further by other irate folks, who had apparently been standing in the queue since 830 am!

    Bangalore right now isn't exactly a time to enjoy the afternoon sun. So I obviously started feeling thirsty. I tried hunting around for a water cooler to quench my thirst. I was told there was one, at the other corner of the floor we were standing on. I didn't have any enthu to walk all the way there. So I chose to barge into one of the department offices to check if they had any water for a thirsty man. I went to one counter to inquire about the water. Without even looking up, he pointed me to the chap next to him. I went to that chap and after being courteous enough to look at me, he pointed me to the end of the section where I saw a plastic container with tumbler on top and a tap to let the water flow.

    I only realized after I got there that there was no water in it. I asked one of the people at the nearby counter and he brusquely told me that if there was no water, there was no water and that I could go and search elsewhere. I asked him about how they had water if there was none in the container. He said that someone filled up the container at 1 pm and I could come back then. Finding it hard to believe that he and his colleagues, who seemed to be enjoying themselves at my discomficture, were so uncouth and heartless, I was seething now. I asked him how people visiting the RTO to get something done were expected to search for water. To this he replied, insensitively, if I may add, that it wasn't his or the RTO's duty to provide water to public. I was now on the verge of blowing my top. I asked him if he realized what he was saying. He continued to maintain that it was none of his concern.

    Since shouting at him would have done nothing to my thirst or my chances of getting a license, I told him that he was a heartless and crude person and that he should be ashamed of his behaviour and stormed out of the office and went back into the queue. My wait finally ended at 230 pm when I was summoned to sign in a register. I tried hunting for the officer in charge of the RTO, but he must have been slunk away for a movie after a long lunch interval. Thank God it's Friday, eh?

    This incident was obviously nothing about corruption, unlike what happened to Atanu. Perhaps it was. Perhaps I should have given him Rs. 10 to point me to a cold water dispenser. This is an indicator of the attitudinal change which needs to happen among the various institutions which are apparently setup to serve us, the people of India.

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