So-called observations

Five people you meet in government offices

The following are the five people you meet in government offices across Assam.

  1. The Deaf Woman

Every office has one. She will sit somewhere close to the reception area so as to trick you into asking her about the person you need to meet to submit your form. You’ll soon realise her trick, as she won’t give the slightest indication that she heard you. And did I mention she’s blind too? Well, not blind, per se, but she’s totally blind when it comes to you and your documents. In the meantime, she will keep on typing on her computer with the force they used for those old Remingtons. You can do nothing to make her pay you attention. It’s immaterial whether you shout at her, dance like Psy, or take out your junk (although that will have other repercussions). She will not bat an eyelid.

  1. The Lazy Guy

We all hate this guy. He doesn’t do anything in the office, except saying, “Oh, I don’t deal with these issues. You should contact Mr Das for that.” When he is not saying that, he is busy drinking his chai with goja. Goja is like his staple food. And when their supplies run out, he starts with the tamuls. He has a cheap, old and dirty looking polythene bag full of tamuls. The mere act of fishing out the tamuls and the paans takes about a century. Then he will stuff his mouth full with this concoction until it renders him unable to speak without leaking out droplets of saliva from the corners of his mouth or occasionally spraying out tiny jets on unsuspecting victims. By the time he can talk without turning your white shirt into a polka-dot one, you realise you’ve already had lunch and crapped half of it. And after all that waiting, he’ll say, “Oh, you should contact Mr Das for that,” and the whole process starts again.

  1. The Nitpicker

This is the guy who has issues with everything you do, and finds ways to delay your work. He doesn’t approve of the colour of your shirt in your passport photo (“Too dark,” he’ll say). He doesn’t like it when you stand a couple of inches off from the alignment of the queue. He will give you the red eye if you stand too close, and click his tongue if you are too far from his desk. Using black ink for filling the forms is too frivolous for his liking. God forbid, if you’re late by even one minute when he has to go for lunch. He’ll give you the “deaf woman” treatment. Same goes for arriving early before his working hours start.  He also displays a strict adherence to his job description. Apparently, he is not paid to replace his printer’s cartridge even if the spare is available and kept on his desk. That is Mr Das’ job, and until Mr Das does his job, no more printing will be done.

  1. The Absent Guy

He is none other than the incredible Mr Das. As you will notice, Mr Das is well versed with the intricacies of the rules and regulations of the office. He is also the most effective employee as he can do anything. The only problem is — he is never, ever present. His desk is always vacant and he seems to be on perpetual leave. On the rarest occasions when he is not on leave, he will be out for lunch during the breakfast hours, or attending a top-level meeting with the peons of the office. Regardless of how you may schedule your visit to the office, there is just no way you can catch the elusive Mr Das.

  1. The Bribeman

This is the person we associate most with government offices. He can be a confusing creature. At times he may seem like someone who complains a lot, and sometimes, he may dig into the occasional goja. However, what he is actually good at is getting things done. Whenever you are upset at the other four persons, he will come across and console you. Of course, it will come at a price.

When you first meet this guy, he will say things like, “Oh, you don’t have the correct documentation,” or “There have been a lot of applicants. So this might take some time.” Last but not the least, he’ll say the magic words, “Your file hasn’t been put up yet.” When you inquire just what exactly this “put up” thing means, he’ll explain how things work according to certain procedures, and procedural delay is an intrinsic part of the procedures. As you are working your way out through the maze of his words, you’ll notice him dropping certain hints here and there about how those delays can be bypassed. A deeper inquisition will let you know that all he is asking for are some gojas and tamuls in exchange for his “bypassing” services and all your worries are over. As you hand over the cash, you thank god in heavens for gojas and tamuls.

Note: In case you don’t know, Goja is a kind of shapeless, over-sweet dessert. Tamuls are also known as betel/areca nuts.

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Rants galore

Let’s talk about cows

No, I mean it. Let’s talk about cows.

Why? I’ll tell you why.

I hate these things. I mean I don’t hate them as in “hate” them. But I can’t stand them. Does that make sense? No?

Well let me explain then.

Ever since I moved to Numaligarh, I’ve noticed cows. To be precise, I’ve noticed how they have a propensity to always be in the middle of the roads. Yes, it’s a common sight in most parts of India. However, here, their frequency is almost like one every fifteen feet. And for some reason, I can’t recall ever seeing them grazing on the fields adjoining the roads. Sometimes I wonder if they eat asphalt or something. Maybe, that’s why they keep chewing continuously because asphalt is, well…hard, I guess. Perhaps, that’s how they lost their upper set of teeth. It’s like the old adage: “Keep chewing asphalt and your teeth will fall off.”

They have started annoying me even more ever since I got my car. I like driving, and I like driving fast. What I don’t like is shifting down to the second gear every thirty seconds just because  some fat cow feels indecisive about crossing the road before taking a dump or doing it before crossing the road. To make matters worse, they give you this smug look while you’re honking as if to say, “Hey buddy, could you not do that? I’m taking a shit. ” Yeah, I can see that, and don’t call me buddy. I’m not your fricking buddy!

As for the young ones, they are unpredictable as hell. They’ll wait by the sides until you feel relaxed that you have crossed them. Then suddenly they’ll say, “Hey buddy, let’s test your driving skills,” and jump right in front of you chasing their tails or trying to tap dance. As you curse and pray to God while trying to avoid them, you realise cows don’t talk. They just moo. So, you begin to question your sanity. You wonder if it’s the cow inside you that’s talking. Uh, I fear I’m digressing. Sorry. Back to my rant then.

Basically, cows have this hidden agenda to ruin your day. Or I guess, they have a grudge against me. I mean, I can feel their evil stares whenever I’m too close to them. Why else would they start peeing and splashing it all around when I’m about to walk past them? In case the piss misses my shoes, they’ll try to swing their filthy tails and slap my butt. Even the bulls hate me. If I’m alone they’ll try to charge at me to kill me. If my family is with me, they’ll charge at the nearest cow trying to get some happy time just so that I can die from embarrassment.

Oh well, I think I’ve gone too far. Nevertheless, I feel somewhat better now. I wish cows could read. Better yet, I wish I could teach a cow to read, for the sole purpose of making it read this rant and the countless vitriolic journal entries I’ve written. Alas, I’ll have to make do with some milk and beef kabab. Hahaha.

Sigh, I need a life.

So-called observations

Farting in public

Remember the time when you gobbled down too many golgappas right after having a plate of chicken fried rice? You are in bliss obviously. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Golgappas originate from heaven.

However, as you’re standing at the bus stop you also have this incrementally building pressure inside your bowels that you need to release. The pressure is not so much that you have to make a bathroom a toxic zone. But it’s enough to make you worry about the one-hour bus journey you’re about to take. You’re left with no other option than to release the safety valve. You check your surroundings for anyone too close. Once you’re assured of your safe distance from any living creature, you slowly and silently let the fumes out.

Oh, the relief! You thank whatever gods may be. It feels so good that you want to close your eyes. But you don’t because you realise where you are. Instead, you steal glances to your left and right and wonder if anyone heard or smelled you. No one did. Just to be sure, you move away from your position by at least fifteen feet and look back. Breathing a sigh of relief, you smile inwardly at the guilty pleasure you enjoyed. Job done.

So-called observations

The Disgusting Beauty

The other day, I saw a girl picking her nose, which, when you think about it, is not a big deal. I mean, as humans we are entitled to indulge ourselves in a few guilty pleasures, including the occasional public nasal-tunnel cleaning exercise. Nevertheless, she was a girl, and that is something which is at odds to the image we have of them. Like a female friend once said, girls do not laugh, they smile. They don’t sweat, they perspire.

Anyway, she is not the weird woman I’m writing about. It’s the girl she reminded me of, who did the exact same thing all those years ago at Panbazar. Back then, I was a college student, and was travelling in a city bus, when I spotted a very beautiful girl standing at the Panbazar bus stop. She seemed preoccupied because she didn’t spot me or the whole row of passengers in front of me who were gawking at her. The source of her preoccupation became clear soon as she lifted her beautiful little fingers to pick her beautiful little nose. She was so engrossed in the activity that even the raucous laughter of a couple of boys in front of me didn’t produce a response from her. Her reverie was broken only when they started catcalling. At first, she seemed taken aback. However, the way she recovered is what made her memorable in my eyes. Throwing back her mane of silky hair she made a show of checking her purse. Clearly, not satisfied, she shook her head from side to side like a cow shaking off flies, so as to catch the wind in her flowing tresses. Then with a self satisfied look, she pranced off like a model on a ramp. I could only sigh, and think, you disgusting beauty!