Simply entering one such office to get a leave sanctioned is a laborious process with many sub-processes! First, you enter the Branch Office where the Assistants of Babus chit chat and relax. On seeing you, some try to ignore you, some plain look at you blank and many scrutinize you, as if you landed up from Mars! Crossing all these glances, you reach the Doors of Heaven where your Ultimate Babu is seated in airconditioned Chamber. I thought the name Chamber suited these cubicles- they are worse than the Nazis' Gas Chambers! The careers of many unsuspecting subordinates are decided here- lock, stock and barrel. Glaring at you stands our own St Peter at these Gates- the Peon. Each Babu has his own peon waiting on him, a perfect au pair! St Peter's job ranges from washing Babu's tea cups to buying vegetables for Masternis. Unfortunately, many Babus have multiple Masternis and it is fun watching St Peter shuffling vegetable bags between homes!
Once St Peter decides you are fit to enter the Heaven, he hands over a small white sheet where you scribble down your name, which you promptly forgot the moment you entered the Bhooth Bungalow. The paper goes in and you start your eternal wait. You can count the number of threads on your saree, the number of times the phone rings with no one to pick up or simply the number of times the buzzer of Babu sounds. Each time the buzzer sounds, our Peter jumps up, goes in and comes back in a jiffy. People barge in and go out and you remain out of focus for a long, long time. You plead with Peter to let you in just for a second and he shows who is the boss here...You grind your teeth and say to yourself- " You shall pay for this Peter, just come to Reservation Office for a booking inside the counter". Covering your burning anger with a sweet smile, you bat your eyelashes at Peter and sit on the screeching wooden stool.
The red light above your Babu's name says ENGAGED. Netas and their chamchas go in and come out as if through a revolving gate, but the Pearly Gates remain closed for you- a damned and doomed departmental clerk. After a nerve wracking wait of two hours, Babu finally decides to give you a darshan and St Peter comes showing all his 36 brown teeth- " You are summoned". Ah! Heavenly to hear these words, you jump up and rush into the room. Babu is busy flipping through a file, gives a curt nod for your Good Morning. You stand rooted on the same spot and hand over your leave application. Babu unwaveringly gets it, stamps his signature and you heave a sigh of relief. Your Thank you, sir falls on deaf ears and marks the end of your meeting with Babu. Shoulders drooping, you make your move out. Every meeting with Babu beyond Pearly Gates is just the same and you regret the day you started service under Babu. Babu remains the ultimate authority. Babu is indispensable. Babu is omnipotent. Babu is omnipresent. Babu is intelligent. You, on the other hand is an MBA. You are just a clerk. You are nothing, a void. Look what changes a visit to Babu can bring on you! It gives a hefty blow to your self confidence. You feel like a vermin.
A day will come when Railways would go into Private Hands. Babus may not like the changes, but i would like to work under someone professional, with ethics. Some one who can understand my devotion to work. Someone who can identify my merit. Some one who can reciprocate my Good mornings with a smile. Above all, someone who can feel what i feel...
All pictures courtesy- Google search