I was at a state government office the other day and swore would never join one in my life.
I had heard a lot of sarcasms related to govt offices ,which I had shunned as an exaggeration of events, but the chain of events linked to my 1.5 hours stint at that office proved my conclusion hasty and wrong.
As soon as i entered, i was startled to see a lot of people turning their bums at me . It was a long queue starting from the door and extending to a barred enclosure which i felt was a prototype of jail. Standing in the queue i was rolling my eyes to get a feel of the office environ.
Some people were present in the inner office premises. They were separated from the outside world by insuperable barriers of wooden cabins having considerable height. They all had put on a repulsive countenance with languid eyes. Some of them never bothered to shave, some of them seldom cut their hair: in short, they didn't bother to groom. They didn't even desire the intercourse with public for which they are paid for. Some of them were indulging in their pre-lunch naps and day-dreams. In reality, they were the employees of that office. It seemed as if the work in that peculiar environ has blunted their vigor for living by numbing their senses. They never talked properly but indistinctly mumbled.
Among them, one guy with a specs dropping almost on his nose was giving me stares, that i believe had tinges of suspicion. I squint my eyes to see a lot of piled up dusky files left in the lurch in the background that acted as a wallpaper to the office "desktop". I felt as if i have hit a museum.
A lot of clamped conduit pipes ran across the ceiling of the office. Also, at equal intervals were fitted, ceiling fans that hardly worked. Eminently, my wandering attention stopped at a fan destined to rotate at the lowest design speed possible on earth. Under which a man sat. He seemed busy for nothing. He was the main officer.
Suddenly I realized a lot of people had already intruded in to the standing queue .They were laymen like me, but still they were prodding and nudging each other for space. They complemented their actions by bestowing abusive words on each other. For a moment i thanked god for not knowing Kannada. Abusive words were wafting in the air with highly cacophonous frequencies.
The guy with whom i endeavored to enter this office squared up my position. Still wondering if this building could be called an office, I wanted to stick my ass somewhere. I found a chair which was physically broken but I poised myself well to rest my bums on it. A gentleman well groomed, with tucked in shirts and jean and with an endless smile on his face approached me. May be i looked a bit more edified(clearing my throat!) with my company's badge, tucked in shirts and trousers and spring flower aroma emanating from my armpit, than any other fellow people who loitered around there; who either scratched their obvious joints, or pulled their pants up or stroked their pot bellies. He addressed me "Sir", a word, of which the government offices and it's employees are peculiarly obsessed and susceptible, and continued "mujhe likhna nahin aatha. Aap yeh address is cover ke ooper likh de tho, bahuth meherbhani hogi"
I replied "OK" and helped him in his accomplishment. He requited my favor with a "thank yu" and a smile.
Another guy came. He was staring at the papers in my hand. He talked a lot in Kannada. And then realizing that i was a complete stranger to the language in point he started talking in a "language alloy" of Hindi and English. He was an agent who channeled bribes to the right destinations. I was feeling helpless and wanted to flee but couldn't; just like a feeling we endure in intimidating dreams, where we hopelessly try to fly away from a dangerous situation ,but are rooted to the spot. The idea of bribing him for not disturbing me struck my mind but since my company doesn't encourage bribe, i refused. Realizing that i was not at all interested in making an acquaintance with him, he stole away behind the queue and lurked in an eerie nook as though to take charge on his next prey.
By that time the guy who came with me told that things are messed up big time and the purpose for which we had come was not even quarter done; and for that I will have to visit yet another "sarkari" office in another location. In finality, a business which would have hardly taken 5 minutes, took nearly 1.5 hrs.
Phew!, My professional frame of mind was extremely happy to leave that sickening office ambiance and was eager to get back to my work though with a tremulous hope.
Had seen inscribed somewhere that government work is god's work. Is it? really? - infinite question marks with never ending curiosity!