Susmita shares her experience of a visit to the Adhaar card office, in Kolkata. The ennui and disinterestedness of the employees match the squalor and rot all around. Here’s a tongue-in-cheek account, a Different Truths exclusive.
Yes, my birthright and strong patriotic feeling urged me to get an Adhaar card. I wished to deepen my identity as an Indian. The experience was most long lasting, so was the time spent for it. I had decided to get through the process near my parents’ home, as my stay here was longer.
With the knowledge that the rush for procuring this government ID had subsided, I embarked my journey along with my two sons, the next generation of India. Unfortunately, this new generation has stayed beyond the glorious boundaries of their mother India, hence they do not know to the ways of this country.
The journey started, first, with collecting the forms from the centre, which had a scheduled opening time 10 AM, as per official records. Collecting forms was a child’s play though reaching was a roller coaster ride with the beautifully sculptured roads – ditches, potholes and all – due to flyover construction going on for years together.
The next step, I skipped and my dad took the onus of submitting the completed forms. We were given an auspicious date and time to reach by 10. And, we being very obedient citizens reached through the harrowing roads before time, 9.40 AM, feeling excited to be clicked, and curious about the entire processing of the Adhaar card.
However, the scene inside the government building was unexpected to us. The doors were still locked. My father rushed to ask, “We are here should we go in?” It was the cleaner. He said, “Not now, Sir, but around 11 or 11.30 AM. To our blessing, we found a broken bench that just accommodated us four more by habit than by its strength. I was worried it might break and disintegrate like the office edifice around us. But, one-and-a-half-hour standing wasn’t appealing. We were ‘appreciating’ the grotesque beauty of the stench from the rotten wood and leftover food from the hall above the office.
My India of dreams was rotting in front of me!
Patience, I did learn and endurance, I gained, much against my will, in the sweltering heat without a fan in the peak Kolkata summers. Tik tok, tik tok, I kept staring at the watch every now and then and praying for ‘the door’ to open soon, in vain.
My luck seemed to have shined. One person came around 10.30 am and opened the lock, reluctantly, but didn’t allow us inside the tiny room. Yet another person ambled in lazily as if yanked from bed forcefully. But, still, we waited outside. Ultimately, the third, most highly official walked it, with a frown and a scowl. And we were allowed inside the room, pushed by another 50 people hounding behind us.
My daddy knew the exact table to approach and we quickly initiated our form confirmation and moved onto the next table for getting photographs, fingerprints, and iris scanned. There were some queries and glitches, so we sweated and waited for another hour, but stuck the gold by completing and being the first ones, on that fateful day. Wow! What a relief we finished the process in an hour and happily decided to jump and rock back in the auto rickshaw to reach our home.
This experience was enriching. It taught me how our people survive in this heat and struggle to become proud Indians. Alas, the India of my dreams is still a far cry! But, I love my India, despite its many flaws and faults. It is part of me.
Photos from the internet.
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Susmita, a commerce graduate from Bombay University, is trained in HR management. She is an entrepreneur and fashions designer sarees. Susmita practices Reki and yoga. She dabbles with fusion styles and experiments with clothes and accessories. Her interests range from culinary skills to various dance forms, from meditation to exercise. She stays in Dubai with her husband and two sons.