Travellers and Magicians

The cherry blossom is beautiful...because it's temporary!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Perils of the Post Office II

I saunter to the registration counter and grudgingly join the long queue (mob, rather) waiting there. When I finally wriggle my way to the head of the crowd, a considerate gentleman notices that I have not affixed stamps on my envelope. Enquiries as to where I may buy stamps bring forth absolutely unintelligible gibberish from the clerk at the counter.

A tad disappointed, I repeat the question to the considerate gentleman, who kindly guides me to a counter at the far end of the hall. I hurry there only to find a grumpy, irritable government servant in the seat. He's annoyed that I have not got the enveloped weighed beforehand. On being asked where I can get it weighed, he, by a flamboyant sweep of the hand, indicates a series of cabins at another end of the hall.

Not to be deterred, I rush to the cabins and find only one of them occupied. The lone gentleman is puzzled at my question. Piqued at being disturbed when he was busy doing nothing, he gives me a piece of his mind. I now plead with him to be compassionate enough to let me know where I can get my envelope weighed. Moved by my entreaties, he points roughly in the direction of the stamp vendor with an even more flamboyant sweep of the hand. I point out to him that I was thence redirected here, only to find his temper rising again.

Quickly, I make my way back to the stamp vendor, who is, by now, positively agitated. "I am not hiding a weighing balance in my pocket", he yells and dramatically empties the contents of his shirt pocket. Getting the point, i trudge back to those lousy cabins. To my delight, I find an electronic weighing balance in one of the empty cabins and proceed to weigh my envelope. Just as I turn to leave, the occupant of the hitherto empty cabin materializes out of thin air and orders me out, but only after telling the amount due for the weight indicated.

Elated with the success, I buy the stamps and rejoin the mob in front of the registration counter. After ten minutes of being tossed about, I reach the counter and flash my envelope, only to be politely redirected to the adjacent cabin. At the adjacent cabin, I find that my envelope too big for the miniscule window in the grille. I politely request the clerk to allow me inside from the office side. The elderly clerk jabbers an inaudible reply. Not quite knowing what to do, and being filled with sympathy for the lot of the aged, I decide to walk in from the office side. I have not set one foot inside when the same old sagged clerk lets out a war cry that would have made Tarzan dizzy. In a thunderously eloquent voice, he orders me out. When I meekly turn up at the counter again, he savagely crumples the envelope and pulls it in, only to weigh it again and offically declare that stamps have been affixed for the right amount. I could now proceed toward registration!

I tramp back to the registration counter and push my way through to the window. In order to spare this clerk such taxing exertion, I crumple the envelope myself and thrust it in. On receiving the grimy, scribbled-upon receipt, I was in seventh heaven. Indeed, few on earth have known such supreme accomplishment and glory.

Seekers of adventure, abandon your mountain peaks! Aspirants to achievement, sweat not elsewhere! A saga of human courage, an enduring tale of tenacious struggle, the ardor of a holy war againt systemic oppression beckons you! Hurry forth to the Main Post Office, Allahabad, and try your hand at sending a registered letter!


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