Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day @ IHC: A play in 5 parts – Part 5: Drama of collection

“Be back at 3.30pm ok?” And with those parting word I had left the IHC.

It’s 3.30pm and with my little receipt slip I am back to collect the notarized documents. So are the other teeming masses, there to collect passports, surrender certificates, notarised documents, PIO cards and the little OIC booklets.

We are somehow all stuffed back into that dank little basement with it strip fluorescent lighting, sweating it out in our winter clothes with the warmth of humans stood too close together. My many friends (read story gatherers and fellow complaining parties) from the morning are back. We are standing at the same glass pane where this morning we jostled for the attention of the Two-in-the-power this morning. No one is here yet.

Suddenly the Two arrive and the Superior one yells at everyone to move back as the Officer is coming. Whaaaaa? I thought HE was the officer. Turns out he was the underling to the Officer. And anyway, move back where? The whole place is packed like a can of sardines and he and his precious Officer are behind a huge counter and glass pane barricade. So then he starts calling out random people’s names – again there is less than no point in having had a token of any kind as all this is random at best .

While I wait I realise that there is no fixed time for this to end and I have to make arrangements for V to pick the Kid up from day care. My phone battery is dying, the power lines inching away all day now. In a rush to get to the counter someone bumps my shoulder and the phone goes flying out of my hand, landing in numerous pieces on the floor. Kindly people scramble around till all the pieces are back together but to no avail – the phone refuses to be revived. I am near tears and exhausted to boot. Someone offers me his phone and I make hasty arrangements for the Kid to be collected and fed etc.

It turns out that over this lunch break no work has been done. The famous Two have merely piled all the papers into 3 piles, left them on the counter and retreated to a hasty lunch. Now as each person comes forward the Officer, a portly officious looking man in a blazer and moustache, looks back and forth between the photograph and the person and throws out remarks like, ‘this seems to be an old picture’ or ‘you don’t look the same’ or ‘ are you sure this is your picture?’ etc. Then he gets you to sign in his presence and signs them himself while the Two stamp the official stamp and say unhelpful things like ‘see madam, I told you bahut time nahin lagega’ (‘I told you it would not take a lot of time’ – he clearly has no watch) or’ Aaj to bahut fast hain sab’ (today everyone is very fast) or 'double work because of holiday you see'. Of course this is totally irrelevant and efficiency and any system are totally missing because there is no weight to the token receipts we got. The pile is at best random, at worst unfair. The Two just call out names as they see fit. After about half an hour of other people getting to go forward to be barked at my turn comes. I grin (barely) and bear it while the Officer tells me how different (i.e fat) I look compared to my passport picture. All signed and dusted I leave in a rush to go home. Never Again I hope.

Wishful Thinking I Realise.


  1. It's amazing how reading about it makes me angry all over again! I hope you don't have to go back in for a long while.

  2. That bit with the phone was the last straw