Delhi Daze

bridge-building-business-904272I flew to the Capital a couple of days ago. The flight landed, and the plane doors opened to a collective gasp of dismay as a wave of dry, hot air rolled in and raised the temperature of the aircraft by fifteen degrees in less than fifteen seconds. It was a promise of what lay in store: heat and dust.

We had to get a document registered at the Palika Bhavan, and the document required both my husband’s and my signatures. I could have given him a power of attorney, but he wanted us to hold hands as we navigated through the horror that is an Indian government building – a journey he would have found far too depressing to undertake on his own.

To be fair, the office itself was a decent workspace, but the building it was housed in was nothing short of a nightmare. There were wires and steel poles jutting out up above, and the walls were smeared with everything from cobwebs and dust to pan streaks. And although, being in India, I am unfortunately accustomed to the sight of paan-smeared walls, never have I had the misfortune to come across so many shades of orange blobs on the floors. Did people just walk around spitting on the floor ahead of themselves as they went about their day?

My husband, being my husband, had forgotten to carry his aadhar card or pan card or photograph with him. On asking around, we were told that there was a photo booth right around the corner. We trekked up a nasty staircase, and there, in front of a tiny shop, was a man seated on a desk, staring at a computer screen.

“Do you do passport photographs?” I inquired. He nodded, gestured to someone who came out holding a small digital camera. Even as I wondered where the studio was, he asked us to stand against the wall. There was no lighting, there were no back-drops, it was all very strange yet straightforward. We took our pics and as we waited, my husband fished out photographs of his aadhar and pan card from his phone. The man seated at the desk took my husband’s phone, WhatsApped the pictures to himself and took the required print-outs. Five minutes later we were all set. A pleasant surprise. A big shout-out to technology for making our lives so much easier. WhatsApp rules!

Once we were done with the documents, we crossed puddles of what I could only hope was water, and reached the other block, which housed the registrars office. On reaching the office, everything was a breeze. Literally, since the office was air-conditioned. Less than ten minutes later, we were out of there.

It was a strange, surreal, unpleasant if interesting experience. One I hope I don’t have to repeat for a long, long time.

 

This article was published in the ‘Right in the Middle’ section of the Deccan Herald on 6th July, 2018

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