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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The 'Karyalaya' - Contd.

A visit to an Indian Government Office - Day 3

Two working days had been wasted completely for the sake of a simple signature. As usual, I arrived early and the respective officers arrived way after the scheduled time. Yesterday's frustration kept me determined to obtain the signature today at all costs. I asked the clerk to inform me about the Inspector's arrival. He gave me the usual 'He'll be busy' dialog which I completely ignored.

Thankfully the Inspector arrived early, this time in his khaki uniform because of which I spotted him without any worry. The bloke was a tall man with a lot of mass around the equator. Almost every sausage sized finger of his had the trademark signet rings encrusted with colourful stones. Hair greased with oil and combed back completely. Thankfully he was quite fluent in English(which i will later figure out), unlike many of his colleagues, but Marathi was his preferred language of communication

I didn't wait for a chance to be called for, I directly approached him saying that I needed his signature urgently and that I've been waiting five days for it. He was rather calm and didn't find my approach disrespectful. He called me to his office and wrote a chit and handed it over to me and asked me to forward it to his secretary. He told me that she would verify the documents (I only had one sheet of paper)and he would sign it accordingly later that day. I froze thinking about the possibility of waiting another day. Unfortunately this eventually came true. He asked me to leave the paper with his secretary and return to collect it tomorrow.

I didn't know what to say. I quietly accepted the chit and left his office. handed over the chit and the document with his secretary and returned home, saddened by the fact that I had to return another day, but slightly glad that at least he promised me he would surely sign it. Hope he keeps his word.

Day 4

I arrived this morning with high hopes. Thankfully for me the man actually had signed it and the official seal was put too. I quickly returned home contented.


This was one horrendous experience for me. Its actually a bad reflection of the way work gets done even in a progressing nation like India. Lack of computers and other amenities actually create a discouraging work place - This was one thing I learnt during my visit. You may ask - "Then why do people prefer to work in such a place ?" The answers simple. Its the five figure salary that these people receive with minimal work pressure. Where else do you get second and fourth Saturdays, of every month, off. Its may be convenient for the employees to work in such a jolly atmosphere; but for the common man, its a living nightmare which all of us dread to face, but eventually we all have to make that dreadful trip to a government office. Its could be the regional passport office(Gosh!), where you'll need to bribe people at times to get work done. Take the good samaritan policy of anti corruption and you'll never find your work getting done.

One thing these people need to learn, is how to value other peoples time. In my case, the inspector could have just signed the document (I had verified the document a million times) rather than waste time writing the chit. I hope I never ever have to make a trip to another one of these offices again, although eventually, I'll have to end up in the worst place possible - The Regional Passport Office.

The 'Karyalaya' - Contd.

A visit to an Indian Government Office - Day 2

Firstly, I'm sorry for the delay in this post which should have been put up weeks ago. I was busy with studies and tests.

So after a rather long weekend, (Sat. and Sun. and Mon. (2nd of October is declared a public holiday on account of Mahatma Gandhi's B'day)) I was back again at the mercy of the hon. educational Inspector of the Suburban district. As usual, I arrived way before time and similarly (usually) the office opened half an hour after the scheduled time. It was a dull morning and the sound of the rain pelting on the asbestos roof quite reflected my distorted state of mind. All in all, it was a series of events culminating in a bizarre situation.

I was welcomed by the same two people, the clerk and the employee. This time, the clerk gave me his typical discouraging excuse by saying that the Inspector would be arriving early on account of important work at 11.30 am (Early!! Think again). I didn't have a choice, it was now or never. I and sat on a wobbly wooden bench next to the door leading to the Inspector's office expecting his arrival.

The clock ticked away. Time passed - 10 o'clock, then 11 then 12 and there was still no sign of the Inspector. During this period, the office had a lot of visitors, most of them chatted away in Marathi (The regional Language, something which I'm scarcely familiar with). After a rather long period of two hours, I finally went and asked the clerk where in the world was this darn inspector. To my horror, the bloke replied by saying that the Inspector had already come and gone. That day, he didn't have the need to visit his office on the 1st floor (where I had been waiting anxiously). I cursed and left the place completely frustrated.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Steve Jobs - "...Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish"

I really admire and look up to Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple Computers Inc. and of Pixar Animation Studios, for the wonderful motivating speech that he delivered urging graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life's setbacks—including death itself—at the Stanford University's 114th Commencement on Sunday in Stanford Stadium. He highlights the following:

You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

"...Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish"

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The 'Karyalaya'

A visit to an Indian Government Office - Day 1

Many Indians share a variety of views about the functioning of an Indian government office. Some people call it as sloppy place while others term it as a place where even obtaining a seal takes ages. Well recently I had my share of experiences at one such office.

My task - to obtain the signature of the Education Inspector of the Mumbai Suburban district. I planned a visit to the Inspector's office on a Friday. Anticipating some or the other form of delay, I reached at 9.30 am for a 10 o'clock appointment. By the time I reached the place the office hadn't opened yet. I decided to wait until it opened. The office was a small one floored building with decayed walls full of moss due to the damp weather. The building hadn't been painted in years.

At half past 10, a lady arrived on her moped and handed over the keys to the clerk. He opened the door and the three of us entered. The sight inside was astonishing. Along the walls, were hundreds and thousands of files and stacks of paper all stacked over one another almost six feet in height. Most of the racks were already full and it definitely meant that there just wasn't adequate place for the rest of the files. Most of them had sides eaten by rats and other insects. Cobwebs covered most of the wall surfaces. Dust was another thing found to be plentiful. I doubted if any of the employees knew where to look for a file in all this mess. The place was just poorly ventilated and had to be brightened by switching on the lights at ten in the morning. Most windows had broken panes or missing latches and were half covered by the stacks of files.

One thing that caught me by surprise was that every desk had a typewriter along with some sheets of paper. In the age of computers, I think the last few of the typewriters that exist in this world can be found in one such office. Instead of photocopy machines, they used carbon papers!! In one corner, I saw a large door with bright blue paint and I guessed it to be that of the inspector's office door.

I was told by the lady that the inspector would be busy with some work at the High Court and won't be available for the rest of the day. This however is the typical way in which a person at a government office responds to any clarification. I took the gamble and decided to wait. I hadn't seen this inspector before and therefore didn't have a clue who he was. After waiting for over one and a half hour, I was told that the inspector had already left. I had blown this good chance. The following Saturday was a holiday being the second Saturday of the month (Government offices in India remain closed on the second and fourth Saturday of every month) and I would get my urgent work done only the following Monday. Hope luck favors me on Monday!