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