Friday, 21 June 2013

Voyage of a file...

This story is about that teeny-weeny file. Yes, you heard it right- A FILE. That Khakhi folder that folds your fortune for weeks, months or at times even years...The journey of a file is by itself a (mis)adventure! If the file sits in a Government Office, the journey can beat the Adventures of Sindbad. Twists, turns and unexpected drama that drives you to the edge of the seat...


 Now you mustn't forget gentlemen and equally gentle women, the synonym for railways is redtape. Any file in Railways moves at rail(snail) pace, strictly! Unless the file is a complaint on a poor clerk or a penalty/punishment file. The latter one moves like lightning...or rather faster than sound, putting supersonic jets to shame! This happened few years ago when I had to go abroad to live with my husband, on a special Ex India Leave from Railways. Now this leave requires a No Objection Certificate from various sections, including the Chennai Zonal Office.

Like the hutch pug puppy, I was glad to watch the file being tagged, labelled, shunted in and out of various offices for almost three months in the confines of divisional office. It was like watching a volley in a tennis match between Federer and Nadal, right, left, right, left. Every single day, I walked the corridors, smiling at people, cajoling some, begging some and threatening some to get a glimpse of my darling file. After all this surveillance, my darling file moved from my place to Chennai Office. Hooray! Finally. She went by Rockfort Express and here was I praying for the entire 800 odd passengers and mail plus my file to reach Chennai safe and sound.

The ordeal was not yet over for my file. I waited patiently for two more months. My better half was getting bitter as I was wasting precious time in getting permission to leave the country. And my darling was not yet back. That is when I decided to pull up my sleeves and get to work, trace my file. Tracing a file? If I had the resource, I would have written volumes on 'how to trace a file' now. Poor me, with the hopes of discovering my file, I boarded Rockfort again. Little did I know that discovering America was far more easier to Columbus than me discovering my file in the sunk titanic that we call our Zonal Office.

Tonnes of records, kilos of dust and two days of unrelenting search finally led me to an office assistant who knew where the file exactly was! " My "Eureka" was probably louder than Archimedes'. Thankfully I was not in the tub, but the corridor of railway office. Sensing my relief, the assistant 'sir' now scratched his head. Taking the cue, I offered a Gandhi. He shrugged his shoulder in disgust. Oh...this was one gentleman, I thought. A penny for my thought, he winked his eyes at me, motioning me to the far end of the corridor. He showed mudras which I, even a trained bharatanatyam dancer couldn't understand. One full minute went by before I understood- the guy wanted a Napolean badly.

The Warlord Napolean must have turned in his grave when I looked at this man incredulously- " Who is Napolean?" Two hours, one full Napolean and half a biryani later, I was reunited with my darling file! Tears stung my eyes as I retrieved her from the hands of our Napolean 'drunk' Bornaparte. Two more days of volleying and finally I was returning back to my place hugging her. The journey from there was smooth- my file finished her " Around Railway Offices in 180 days" and rested on my lap one fine evening. As my flight took off from Chennai International Airport, I was dreaming of my darling file who bade me farewell. Without her, I wouldn't be on board the flight.

The art of tracing and retracing a file is by itself an art- you need loads of patience, tonnes of perseverance and truck loads of luck. The file of a property transaction deal required four months and two sets of bata slippers @ 999.99. If there was not one honest Officer, my file would be sitting like a lame duck in some Tahsildar's table. Husband dear is a Ghazni Mohammed by birth. Despite my experiences in file chasing, he has now applied for 'patta' for our house. Hail Mary! Week after week it will be now chasing the file, which I do without much ado;)

Worse still, my leave letter file is now making me moan and groan. Her Highness was submitted to the due boss on 5th June for leave from 15th June. She has now done her Houdini Act- gone missing. After constant snickering and pestering friends and foes, I managed to trace her today morning. She is sitting under the table of my boss, gathering dust, waiting for my boss's pen to kiss her goodbye. I wish I could hold her...touch her...just inhale her essence- the FILE- my LIFE!!

p.s. : I really am bitchy writing this post, forgive me...a woman has the rights to bitch, right?
p.p.s.: Had a tough time in RPF outpost today trying to 'prove' I was a Railway staff to a knuckle head who thought he was probably Sherlock Holmes who found out that I had left my bike in a "No parking' Zone. Man...we are women! We are supposed to park in 'no parking' zones only :P
p.p.p.s.: How I hate men who look at 'assets' alone when they speak to us...Dear God...let all those men who look at us lurid, be born in their next birth as men with copious 'assets' that can put a cricket bat to shame!!!

16 comments:

  1. 1. Red - tape is at its worst in SUb-REgistrar off,, CTO off etc.. in compard to an SRLY off..
    2.FYKI this red-tape cost us a PM Mr.Rajiv/..( the jr intelllegence officers gav their seniors on terrorists talks of killing a bird.. whic was nt even opned by superiors until the murder took place).
    3.Will it work if our companies bcome more horizontal in line of authority..(suc tat communicatio bet levels become easier and effecitv).
    4.Correcting aPUne is more common in any GO i think.. in our plce .. CTO off clerk owns 5 cabs and 4 houses for rent...
    5.During our MBA days a prof went oto wrk n SOUTHAFRICA on 5 yrs of leav..(as he got 15+ yrs of wrk..). so why nt let us make G/E s no going abroad..(nt hitting at u personally but for a greater good)

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Kamalika!
      1. Everywhere it is the same!
      2. No comments.
      3. Chanceless, most companies don't want to hear from the lower rung
      4. Only this much? :P
      5. Oh yes...instead why don't we bring back all those NRIs working in US and other countries to India?

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  2. Yep! You have every right to be bitchy, with all the drama you went through to get your file! Same is applicable in our ministries, and yes, one must grease the palm after getting it!
    Glad you succeeded, have a safe journey and enjoyable leave.

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    1. Oh Ibhade...was terribly bitchy that day. Feeling much better now. The incident mentioned here happened long back, not now. I went on leave and back safe and sound :)

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  3. I am glad to know that you were successful, and by hook or crook got the file that finally led you to your beloved husband.
    But now more things to chase, i can understand how irritating it must be. In India it has become a standard practice to make people run around files, grease the palms of people from the lowest ranks. It is really unfortunate. When my son says it is hassle free living in America, I truly believe him. When will we ever be hassle free?
    I suppose writing about these things in a humorous way is the only way we can vent our anger against the system.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Rama. Yes, the system here is beyond repair and all we can do is sit and fume. Your son is right:)

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  4. MAN after reading this...I tell you..u got every damn right to be bitchy!!! YOU GOT THAT FILE finally!

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    1. Hahaha...yeah Red! Thanks for the comment, Dear!

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  5. Redtapism is synonymous with govt offices. The recent article in the Hindu metroplus by c.k.meena (city lights) dealt with the same issue.
    Apart for ur post, it was the ppps that was the most obvious and common curse of all women..

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    1. Vaishnavi...thanks for the comment. Ppps...hahaha! Seems you too have suffered :P

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  6. A file can change a life.
    But all is well that ends well.

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    1. Yes, Alka! All ended well, thankfully :)

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  7. Oh, I can completely understand this. I used to head an NGO resource centre at the TN Corporation for Women Ltd. So we had a lot of file traffic too. And suddenly comes this IAS officer who decided to make the entire file movement electronic :) You can imagine the confusion it caused. Finally it was just our resource centre people who knew how to move the file across the computer -consequently we moved a lot of things about at our pace. BTW, the file lingo takes a lot to understand - "Note file"being one and then there is this curious thing called " Proceedings" which begins ... " Proceedings of Mr/ Ms... IAS, present ... blah blah their name" It is a new world and a new culture for anyone uninitiated a maze of unknown tunnels. You should start an expert consultancy firm on fees for file chasing :) You are obviouslly very experienced.

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    1. Hahhaa! Officers and their manias :P Would be really glad to start such consultancy ;)

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  8. Bata slippers? LOL! You have really been through some very interesting file ordeals. This post reminded me of that soap - 'Office Office'. People in our country do enjoy working in a haphazard unorganized manner, I guess.

    Welcome back, CN. I am back here after a long time too, feels so good to see you get back to blogging again. :)

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  9. blessings.....
    Life is full of red tape.

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