6.01.1988 or 6.10.1988 my tryst with the Road Transport Office
Posted by Gokul
Even before i made my maiden visit to this infamous govt.department, i had heard enough of the inefficiency of the Kerala Road Transport Office. But what was in store for me when i went for my drivers license is the grim reminder of the pitiable state of affairs still persistent in our govt. offices. It was a joyous moment for me, after almost four years of two wheeler usage always fearing of police checking round the corner (although i was caught only once that is another epic by itself) i was going to get driver’s dicense and i could finally take my bike out without fearing the cops.
It was all usual till the day of the test. Having easily cleared my learners, i had my test one month after that. Me and my fellow test takers were there at 7.30 in the morning waiting for the master of the show, the Licensing Officer (our antagonist, we shall call him Mr.X for convenience). Quite usual for a govt officer he comes one hour late smoking his old maruthi. The traversing of the ‘8’ was a walk in the park as the vehicle (which belonged to the driving school through which i was applying) was custom made to take any novice through the designated track. Still many managed to screw that round (God bless them and the people on the road when they finally make it to the road with a license). The next and the final round was the road test in which you are supposed to take the vehicle one round in the ground imagining it as the road, i.e obeying all the traffic rules.
There started my troubles. How many of you knew that, i mean before you went to the driving school that you have to make a gesture (similar to ‘kathakali mudra’) with your hand while slowing your vehicle (then, what the hell is the brake light for)?. As i learned theart of drivin g by myself i was ignorant of this fact and forgot to do it during the road test. For just this reason Mr.X said that i had failed and asked me to go out (please note that he simply asked me to go out without writing ‘Failed’ in my papers). I tried arguing but he blatantly asked me to clear out( the words used by him were obviously not parliamentary but after all he is the master of the show). I waited there after i had cleared the 4 wheeler test. Then the guys from the driving school came to help me out. Mr.X has to either pass me or write ‘Failed’ for me to go out. He kept on beating around the bush without saying anything straight. Then i got the point.
I have two options:
a) pay some cash and walk away with the license (200 was his cost)
b) get the ‘failed’ seal come back few days later, repeat the whole process of standing in the scorching sun and taking all those out dated tests all once again.
The stereotypical choice you are confronted with every time you make it to a govt.office. Prioritizing my convenience above my morality (my only argument may be that i am worthy of a license, but bribing is an offense) i go for the former. I tell the driving school guy that i l pay. He goes to Mr.X gets my papers right and collects cash from me. All is over in less than a minute ( so convenient, right?). I do not pay the master directly, he will get his share together at the end of the day, the driving school being a medium.
Oh God wasn’t i relieved??But it seems that fate has decided to punish me for driving without license for all these years by another episode in the R.T.O
Episode 2 (Place:Road Transport Office):
To my horror i notice that my DOB has been misprinted in the license as 6.01.1988 instead of 6.10.1988. So once again i go to the R.T.O with my passport. On inquiry the people over there ask me to come the next day to meet Mr.X himself as he is the one supposed to rectify it. I go the next day at 3 only to be informed that he was currently at Valayar check post and would be here soon. He didnt come that day and having waited upto 5 i come back once again at 3 the next day. That day he reached his cabin at 3.30. I made it to his cabin in the midst of his shouts at people who accidentally wandered near his cabin( you cant blame him, he has misinterpreted his ‘public servant’ tag as ‘public as his servants’). He asks me to find my papers in the records office. I almost lost my breath when i made it to the records section:Millions of papers in all shades from bright white to deep yellow with red tapes jutting out. In half an hour i found my papers and go back to him. He tries to access my data from his computer(Thank God, everything is computerised). But my relief doesnt last long. The computer has no idea of any such data. After a few minutes of fiddling with the keyboard he quits and asks me to come after one week(What the hell, is it my mistake that he cant access his comp?). One week later i make it once again to the office. I was not made to wait long that day as I was informed that Mr.X was on leave indefinitely due to chicken pox and nothing cant be done unless he comes back. I had cursed him a lot but never thought that it will back fire on me itself. Fed up i had two options in front of me
a) Leave the whole thing and walk with an improper license untill some problem arises due to its disparity with my other documents which was what at least two of my friends with a similar problem did
b)Ask my dad to find someone over there whom he knew and ask his help.
Fortunately my dad had a friend there and i entrust my license with him. After two months, i get it back corrected.
Think of this, what if I didnt have any acquaintances over there. I would have either been contend with the defective license or would have to walk the corridors of that office maybe another four or five times still with no surety of getting it corrected. With privitisation and consumers finally getting their deserved ‘numero uno’ status, isnt it high time that the govt offices and more importantly the govt officers come of age and find their position as public servants. Govt offices are supposed to serve us. Instead we are made to stand in never ending queues hearing all shit from the officer who assumes the position of the master of the class. And we take all the brunt in silence and anyone who tries to act is punished by making to go through the actual process which ends up no where other than in red tape. Its only with regret that i say that i was also on that side which took the injustice silently. I may go with the cliche of saying that was the easiest way out, but that doesnt change the fact that i bred corruption by being a part of it. That day i made the decision that the next time i have the choice between cutting short the path by bribing and going by the right way i will chose the later as rightly pointed out by Martin Luther King Jr: