I’m not one to carry on about things (HA!) and I thought I was pretty well acclimated to the bureaucratic ways of Indian every day life, but last week I witnessed 2 instances of papering that still impressed me in its abundance. I take my ironing to the “dry wash” (dry cleaning) every week, but last week it was hard not to crawl into their small space and reorganize, or make that organize their operation with one change that would give them twice as much time in their work day.
When you approach the window you see a variety of old paper and newspaper strewn in many directions on a shelf. When the clerk sees you, she tears off a piece, grabs a pencil, and writes an inventory of what you’ve brought in. She looks over the clothing thoroughly to point out any stain or tear, then tallies the clothes. Once that is completed, she will search around under the strewn papers for a receipt book, where she will commence to copy the list she just made on the paper scrap into the receipt book. She does this, making 2 carbon copies, then gives me a copy for retrieval. I smile, take my slip, and wish them a good day. The system is working fine for them. I believe it’s my internal toe-tapping that is the real problem, so I suppress the urge for reform and get back in the car.
Second, I saw something repeated in an airport line that I’ve often seen, and it doesn’t fit my American sensibilities and desire for efficiency either.…..The weight limits of checked baggage is carefully checked and fines are assessed if someone has too much stuff stuffed into the bags. Fine, acceptable, that’s fair. I’ve been dinged several times, and I just open my wallet. Usually the procedure to pay the fine means returning to “GO” (accompanied by a very polite airline representative, lest you stray), which is the ticket office by the entrance of the airport, paying your fine, and then cutting the boarding pass line to get your boarding passes and luggage tags. Yesterday, however, the person in front of me was guilty, and the airline representative took out a receipt book to charge her “there itself” as they say here. This is progress, I thought! And it was, sort of. However, in front of him was a computer with all her information in it, and yet he handwrote her receipt in triplicate. This country is FULL of software engineers. Surely one of them could take an hour and write a program that would allow the airline staff to use her data in the computer to spit out a receipt for the baggage overage? Has no one thought of that, I wondered….Of course they COULD do it, but no one in charge has yet seen a need to do it. Again a case of my internal toe tapping, which means I’ve not spent enough time in this country to be comfortable with ALL the daily routines!
Oh, and just so you don’t think you’ve figured out what’s going to happen in a given situation, we were over on our baggage weight, too, but when I told him we would just carry on one of the bags to avoid the fine, he said ok, no problem, go ahead and check it. The line was long, we were nearing time to board, and the man was tired of writing, no doubt. I do enjoy the randomness of it all when it turns in my favor.