Bureaucracy; Britain’s gift to India

He climbed the stairs that had once been beautiful.

He climbed the stairs that had once been beautiful.

Section 126 is queuing for its life

Clearly there was no such thing as an absolutely right queue and huffing about his lesson in relativity Vernon climbed the narrow steps that led to the interior of the building. He entered a dingy corridor and squeezed awkwardly past the suspicious attendant seated on a stool at the foot of the staircase by a cast iron gate that might have been purloined from Pilgrim’s Progress. The doorman and the attendant shrugged their shoulders at his request for directions and seemed about to question his ancestry. Vernon wondered if there was a machete sticking out of his belt, wires trailing from his or maybe he just had the remains of a snickers bar in his teeth.

Even the severe Dante would have approved of the general discomfort.

Even the severe Dante would have approved of the general discomfort.

When he got to the top of the stairs he was unprepared for the heaving mass of bodies that filled the large room. Old and young, rich and poor, male and female, united in boredom and resignation like something out of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The room was lined on one side by grimy windows overlooking the pleasantly planted courtyard outside and by glass-enclosed counters on the other. What wasn’t glass was panelled in dark grimy oak. The setting reminded him of a Victorian train station, the clientele reminded him of a doctors waiting room. He stood for a full ten minutes not sure what to do next, realising eventually that the ticket he held tightly in his sweating hand corresponded to the numbering system for calling clients to the booths at the far end of the room.

When Vernon’s number was up, after a wait of half an hour, he quickly made his way to the counter. He showed his tickets and his documents “You have photocopy?” The attractive but severe girl behind the glass asked.

Never mind your love of India, show me good documents.

Never mind your love of India, show me good documents.

“Photocopy of what?” Vernon said.

“You want to make application; you leave copy of all documents with form.” This was news to Vernon; there had been no indication of this online.

“Oh,” he said, taken aback, “Can you do a copy for me then and I pay for it please?” “No” the woman replied forensically, “not possible.” Vernon waited for an apology for the inflexibilities of bureaucracy, none came.

“So, can I go and get these copied and return?” The cashier nodded her head indifferently and then looked over his shoulder, a glance interpreted by the next two people in the queue, as an opportunity to settle, by jostling forward, which of them had got there first.

Check out the story so far on The Novel page

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