All bureaucrats are the same, but some are better than the others ! Each nation is blessed with a liberal sprinkling of "homo sapiens pointless bureaucracy-ensis". But the ancient land of India is surely the world leader in this matter. Meet Ramamritham - the quintessential member of this species.
Readers of this blog will know of my partiality to caricaturing a typical member of a group by a name. The Indian female has featured here so often that her name is now acquiring legendary proportions (pun intended). Having been accused of gender bias, I shall now strive to correct it with describing the masculine equivalent.
India abounds in Ramamrithams. Typically he comes from the state of Tamil Nadu or West Bengal - these two cultures seem to have a huge affinity for inhabiting the corridors of babudom. He takes great pleasure in designing the most elaborate and pointless of procedures. He squeals with orgasmic delight when he has the opportunity to add one more procedural step in an already lengthy treatise on pointlessness. The more the paperwork, the greater is his joy. The airport procedures that I alluded to here and here were designed by a particularly bright specimen of this tribe. He has also been behind the need to wave your photo identity card every 5 minutes at all and sundry - I think he is protecting you and me from an acute case of amnesia of our names and how we look. We shall pass lightly over the fact that being forced to look at my photo every now and then and being reminded of the passage of years is not improving my mood.
You can't escape meeting him. If you want a mobile phone, he's there. If you ask for a gas connection he's there. If you want a passport, a credit card ......, actually anything at all, you will have the full pleasure of meeting this wonderful man. If you are returning from abroad, and have to pick up the pieces of living in India, you will have the privilege of cohabiting with him intimately for a long time. Its now 4 months since I returned back, and he still hasn't left my house.
His latest fancy has been to give me his full attention in the small matter of obtaining a new credit card. He has decreed that not only should my address be verified, but my phone lines have also to be verified. Fair enough. Call me on my mobile, and you can verify it easily enough. He then wants to check on my land line as well. But then, our Ramamritham works only from 11.00 to 4.00 Mondays to Fridays. At that time, I am, alas, away toiling for my daily bread. Tring Tring he rings. No answer. He then calls me on my mobile and complains that I am not answering the landline ! Explanations of lack of geographical proximity don't cut much ice. Right; he can sit on my application grandly. As with wine, the older it gets, the sweeter it is.
I have movingly expressed my willingness to coo sweet nothings to him anytime on Saturday or Sunday , but weekend romance does not seem to catch his fancy. I have offered to bring the sainted instrument for him to caress in person, but his idea of intimacy does not seem to extend in that direction. I have even offered to overdose him with his first love - enough paper - to prove that the landline number is indeed mine , but he refuses to be titillated even by that ruse. He is steadfast, upright and represents the best of his tribe.
I hereby award the gold medal in bureaucracy to Ramamritham. May he flourish and conquer many new heights. May he continue to bring laurels to the country. And , no doubt, he will appear time and again, in this humble blog.
PS . All characters in this post are entirely fictional and the subject of this blogger's imagination and have no resemblance to any person living or dead.