Thursday, July 31, 2014

Oh my passport!

The first thing I did today when I got frustrated in the passport office was to search my blog for the post I wrote when I was frustrated earlier. To my surprise I found none. I think I was very forgiving the first time! So anyway, here goes.

The Bangalore Passport Office on Outer Ring Road (Devarabeesanahalli) is one painful place to visit. You are given an appointment time which is usually around a month later from the date you book. Compare that to Hyderabad where appointments are available the next day!

Then, the appointment time has no sanctity. You go there at the scheduled time, or earlier, or later (for it does not really matter) and then wait in line for about an hour to get a stupid token! I mean, what the hell? Why go through the whole appointment process?!?!

At the token counter, today especially, BWSSB bill is rejected on the basis that it is an e-bill. Really? Are we hi-tech or what? I called Subhash and he came to deliver a paper bill, which (drum-roll!) is exactly the same as the e-bill but in colour! I told the guy at the counter - that they should really stop being ridiculous - and stop wasting our time. He said that is because e-bill can be modified by anyone. Really! That was news to me!! Phew.

Then there is three counters. A, B, and C. A is presumably TCS-staffed, 20 counters, reasonably fast and out. Then starts the struggle. All the 20 counters lead to 4 B counters. Which are staffed by government guys. This takes forever to get to. After waiting for about an hour, your turn comes. You go, he checks all the documents and signs off.

Then comes C. This is easily the worst part. All A and B counter folks crowding the very narrow space - and C has 4 counters but both times I went there, there was just one or two that were manned. So naturally, one more bottleneck leads to one more congestion. Not to mention by this time all kids are cranky, sleepy, hungry and what not. And after waiting for an hour or two to be seen by the counter C lords, all you get is about 30s of their time, that too while being pre-occupied with something else, talking to someone else on the phone, etc, they take a barely cursory glance at your documents, nod to their sub-ordinate (yeah they have a secretary) and ask you to go. I mean, is it worth two hours? I just do NOT get it. And to me, there is absolutely no difference in what B and C do, so consequently why there should be two entities there except for that the government wants to provide more employment to needless folks is just beyond my comprehension.

I hear appointments in Hyderabad hardly take 15 minutes. Why the hell does it take so long here? is it just this centre or is the story same everywhere in Bangalore? God only knows.

When I went for the younger one's passport, he was sleepy and cranky and I had to carry him all the while, imagine carrying a very active infant in your arms for about 4 hours - yes, you guessed it, sheer torture. He just wouldn't let me sit, I had to stand and carry him all the time.

Today was much better, older ones passport renewal. Simply because I did not have to carry him. But the guy doesn't eat anything outside, so he went 6 hours straight without a meal, and that was another kind of torture. He was hungry and sleepy by the time we were done - but thank god for him being a well behaved child - at least he didn't throw a fit or pester me about being bored!

I had called ahead of time and asked if minors really need to show up for applying - they said yes. And so all parents endure the torture of trying to hold their kids back in a government building for a few hours!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The cynicism kicks in when you are in your 30s ;)

It's been too long since I blogged. Cousins and friends have started asking :)

I had quite a few things to write about - incidents, feelings, milestones and what not. But the cynicism is to blame. Who cares anyway? How is writing about something going to change it? Etc etc. And also the overdrive thought process about writing diplomatically.

Well, whatever. Let me write now!

First let's get the pet peeve out of the way - parenting.

I was at the park a month or so (or perhaps even more) ago - there was this kid who starting bringing in sand from the sand pit by the handfuls and dumping it in Rohan's cycle basket. I told him very nicely, smiling, acting surprised, and in various other styles that he should not do that. He persisted for about 5 times before I said, well, this is not correct, let's clean it up now. Clean, the magic word. From thin air appeared a woman. Presumably his mom. And she asked me what he did. I said he's been dumping sand in the cycle. And she began to rant about how he is just a baby and he won't understand if I tell him and that she has been watching what I have been saying to him (really?!?!) , that I should not ask a baby to clean up and so on and so forth. First of all, the kid was no baby - he was a good 3 years old or more. And woman, what were you doing watching him repeatedly put sand in someone else's bike? I mean, what? And only when I asked him gently to come "clean" did you appear? I say, it is not the kid's fault at all. With a mom like that - he can't help but being a menace. What?

Then yesterday. In walks another mom - with two kids. Both presumably only half-Indian - they had blond hair. Father in law and I were sitting on a bench and chatting and watching some kids being rowdy, some quietly playing, some running around, some just being outright nasty etc etc. Then one of the lady's kids starts jumping up and down in a pair-swing on which he was standing - the mom went to enquire and turns out he wet his pants. All the way down to a small puddle on the swing. Thanks to the perforated pedestal of the swing, there was no much left on it but enough to get onto other kids shoes. The mom asks him how it happened, quietly consoled him, even let him talk to the other ladies with whom she was chatting and then just prepared to leave. I was watching for a full 10 minutes in the hope that she would clean up after her son. But no. I almost told her to please clean up, but thought the better of it - didn't want to sound rude and further alienate one more super-senstitive mom (really, what is with being so sensitive?). But I did what was next best - set an example to my own kid. Got up, took the bottle of drinking water I had (ouch, hate wasting drinking water, but was too lazy to go to the rest room at the other end and fetch some water), poured it over the swing pedestal till it was clean. Rohan asked me why I was doing that (he knows I hate wasting water, I never let him do it too), and I told him the kid peed, and his mom didn't clean up but we don't want other kids to soil their shoes/feet, so let's clean up. Done.

What is with us as a people and not cleaning up after ourselves? Really, dog-shit is a menace in our layout - in spite of many folks asking people to clean up after their pets, I have seen just one or two do it dutifully. We just think public property us ours and our pets to pee and shit on - no wonder our streets and public spots are in such a sorry state usually! Well, if there is one thing that annoys me endlessly, it is the so called educated, elite folks, behaving like absolute ruddy bumpkins. Spitting everywhere, peeing everywhere, trashing out of cars and what not.

There, I got it all out! Did it make a difference to anyone's life? Yet?

We went to a birthday party on Saturday night - my first ever with lights and music and a dance floor - yeah, ever, in my life! ;) I had a good time just observing people and soaking it all in. Our hostess, one of the most elegant women I know, Subhash's friend, had done a splendid job with organizing it. It was a late night party so fed both the kids, put one to sleep, left the other with parents and went. Didn't feel guilty about it too! :) Such a blessing to have parents and father in law around - not a day goes by when I don't feel thankful for it :)

So, well, hopefully I can shake off some cynicism and laziness now..