Monday, July 18, 2005

The high ball landed a few feet in front of Anant and the defender. A few quick steps, Anant reached the ball first. There was no time to control the ball, a small jump, Anant headed it towards the center. The ball bounced high, another defender made his way towards it. I jumped up and tapped it with my head, downwards, towards Anant, who was now some distance away from the guy marking him. A perfect trap with the right foot, control the ball to keep it with himself and pass along the ground with his right foot, Anant knew where I would be, and I was there. But there was another guy in front of me, I tried to go forward but didn't get enough free space. Sapto had come up from behind, I could see him to my left from the corner of my eye, but the defender had also seen him, and was between the two of us. I pulled the ball backwards between my legs, turned back, took a couple of steps and tapped hard with my left foot towards the right, of course Sapto was there in the clear for the pass. Sapto took the ball with his right foot, shuffled it a couple of times between right and left, pirouetted through 360 degress, with the ball glued to his left foot, to leave the hapless defender behind, rushed past the other guy, and there he was with only the goal-keeper in front. The rest was, of course, simple, the same routine, the goal-keeper coming forward to cut the angle, Sapto making as if to shoot straight, but passing cross-wise instead along the ground, no one marking me, a tap with the side of my right foot, the goal-keeper, still with Sapto, watching as the ball rolled smoothly between the two make-shift posts six feet apart....goooooaaalll!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Idiocracy. Or is it Indiocracy?

* This story is based on real life, and is perfectly possible. However, some of the incidents mentioned below haven't happened yet! *

The clerk sitting behind the table with a pile of folders with A4 sheets of paper bursting out of them looked at me through his thick glasses and blinked twice. My brain somehow started believing that I was an alien from Jupiter, or worse still, Uranus.

"Four wheeler license ...." I started.

"LL or DL?" Sharply!

"Pardon me?"

"LL or DL?" Contemptuously!

"I have an US driving license ..." I started.

"Door 3." Close of conversation. He went back to leafing through the million pages in a purple folder. I went in search of door 3 and soon found it. Inside, there were a row of glass counters.

There was a queue at the nearest counter (number 8) and no one behind or in front of any of the others. I stood at the end of the queue. Everyone in front of me had a filled up form or two and I was feeling oddly out of place. I awaited my turn patiently behind five people. The guy at the counter seemed oblivious to the fact that there may exist some other activity in this world that might require the presence of one or more of these people standing at the queue. He took his own time in leafing through the forms, yawning between every two pages, stopping to share a joke with another guy inside the glass enclosure between every two yawns and peering suspiciously at each person in the queue.

In about what seemed like half-an-hour (one should not actually measure time when one is in a place where time has no value and doesn't exist, but being as I mentioned earlier, an alien, I could not but help glancing at my watch every once in a while), I was at the head of the queue.

"I have an American DL, and I want to get an Indian four wheeler license."

"Please go to counter number 4." This guy seemed to be very courteous. I glanced at counter number four. There was no one there in front of the counter or behind, or for that matter, anywhere within a mile radius. I looked back at this guy. "Don't worry, someone will be coming there soon."

By this time, I had lost all hope of going to office on time - anyway, I never go to office on time - so I went and waited at the counter number four. For fifteen minutes, I had no other occupation but to glance around and 'take in' the room. There was nothing much to take in, it was just another government office, with cobwebs and paperwork strewn all over the floor, ceiling, desks and window sills. There was by now a pretty long queue at the counter from which I just came. At the end of the room, there was an open door bearing the legend "Assistant Officer In Charge, Regional Transport Office" and a pretty fast moving queue at the door. Some way off inside the room with the glass counters, where two ladies were sitting across a desk and chatting.

Presently, one of the ladies took pity on me and came and sat at the counter at which I was waiting. She moved about a few things on the desk, took out a pin cushion, and made preparations for (what appeared to be) a day's work ahead. Thus customizing the desk for 5 minutes, she looked at me and asked, "Yes?"

I repeated my request.

"Please go over there and talk with the Assisstant Officer in Charge."

I knew better than to protest and I went and joined the long queue. I was relatively certain that the Assisstant Officer in Charge didn't really have anywhere to redirect me to because the Officer in Charge was nowhere to be seen. Being a (mis)believer of the doctrine of Patience and its payoffs, I waited patiently. Soon (within fifteen minutes) I was in front of the great man himself.

"I have an American DL, and I want to get an Indian four wheeler license." I repeated.

The person at the desk nodded. "I need your driving license, a couple of passport-sized photographs and your residence proof. What residence-proof do you have?"

"I have this BSNL land line telephone bill here..."

Shaking his head ... "It has to be either a Passport or a Ration Card or an LIC policy."

"But ..." if I have a land line telephone connection I surely must have a residence!

The guy was shaking his head.

"But my Passport and Ration Card are in the Kolkata address."

"Then get your license at Kolkata."

"But I live here now."

"We have no proof that you live here now."

"But .... okay I have my Rental Agreement ..."

"We do not accept a House Rental Agreement as a residence proof." You may have rented the house for, I don't know, not living there perhaps. Perhaps you have too much money and just want to spend some of it as house rent!

"Well, I also have this proof of residence certificate given by my office on our official letterhead."

"Do you work for any government office?"


"Then the certificate is not acceptable." Only the government offices are honest and incorruptible, everyone else is a liar!

"But I can't really get a Ration Card here ..."

"I can't help you ... Next please."


After a discussion for about an hour and a half, we had narrowed down the possibilities to the one perfect policy for me. I was happy that I will soon get a Life Insurance Policy as well as an address proof. The agent sitting in front of me was happy that he had made one more sale, which means more commission in his pocket.

"Now to get to the paperwork. I need a couple of passport sized photographs, a medical fitness certificate and a proof of your residence. What residence proof do you have?"

"I have a BSNL telephone bill, a certificate from my office and my rental agreement."

The guy nods. "Yes, I understand. We do not accept those."

"Wha..what? Why?" Then why are you nodding?

Still nodding. "Yes, it has to be your passport or your ration card. Your driving license will do also."

"But I don't have a driving lincense." That is why I need the LIC policy! "And the other two are in my Kolkata address."

"Sorry, I can't help you then. You need to get an address proof." Still nodding.

"But I do have proofs of my residence here. My telephone bill..."

"No it has to be your Passport or your DL."

"That means I can't make an LIC policy here?"

"Of course you can, sir. You just need the address proof."


The corridors looked similar, the counters looked similar, the clerks behind the counters looked and acted similarly. All government offices look the same.

Finding my way to the correct counter was easy. The signs on the wall bearing the legend "Change of Address" all pointed to the same place. The clerk at the counter looked strangely similar to the one at the RTO. Wondering if it would be polite to ask the guy if he had many twins, each of whom worked at a different Government Public Service Office in Bangalore, I approached the person.

"I want to change the address in my passport to my current address."

That is the only thing done at this counter. Of course you want to change the address in your passport. The guy looked at me severly. This person was markedly less polite than his twin brother at counter 8 in the RTO. "What address proof do you have?"

By now I could answer this question as a reflex and didn't have to think. I replied.

"Not possible."


"We do not accept those as proof of residence."

"What do you accept?" Of course I knew what they accepted.

"Your Driving License or your Ration Card. Even an LIC Policy will do."


I was at the RTO in Kolkata.

"I have this American DL. I want to get an Indian DL. I have two photographs and I have my Passport or Ration Card as address proof."

"We need three photographs."

"Okay I have three."

"Do you stay at this address?"

"I ... uh ..."

"This is a government quarter. Do you work for the government?"

"No my dad does."

"Are you a dependant?"


"Then I need your address proof."

"Can't I stay with my dad? I have got all the proof that you want here."

"Do you stay here in Kolkata? Most young people like you are going out these days."

"I ... "

"Where do you work? Do you work in Kolkata? Bring me a proof that you work here. Otherwise I will not accept this proof of residence. You do not live here."

Congratulations, Somshubhra, you don't live anywhere any more!!