Warning : rant alert!!!
Friday was a day that had me tired, desperate and fuming!! The last time I was in in India and I voted, was the first time I became eligible to vote. It was also the time when voter’s ID was not there! Later on, when it was enforced, I did apply. Even went to get the photo taken – just that the ID never came to me!!
I left for the US, 8 years passed with me never here during elections and was here for very short durations wherein voter’s ID was not my priority in the list of things to get done. Fast forward to the present… I was told that I must apply for it from scratch (kinda now like how I am starting life from scratch 🙂 )
I registered in Jaagore. Filled in all the necessary details. Got to know I had to go to the Election Commission office at Ayanavaram (for those who don’t know where this place is – Join the club – I didn’t either 🙂 ). I go there with filled in forms, mighty pleased with myself thinking “wow! I will be in and out within minutes!!” Yeah right!! Government business and within minutes – I must have been doped! I was told I had the wrong form! So, the officer there gave me a new set of forms. I had to have photos too to stick on the forms. I had everything – or so I thought. Boy! was I wrong!! The officer looked through the papers and says “You need 2 proofs of address!” and rattles out a list of accepted documents. I had none of those (correction – have) Then secondary list rattled out -bingo! bank statement or passbook. Alas! I had to get back home and get the photocopy.
So, last friday…I set out yet again. Same feeling. Now I have everything – The right forms duly filled in, photos stuck, 2 proofs of address. I even learnt the ward number (cos the officer kept asking that the other day!) I walk in with all confidence thinking job is done, may be I will throw in some shopping that day! She politely asked me which division was I in! Flabbergasted – I had no idea!! The photocopy of my parents’ ID also did not have the information she wanted. She directed me to another officer on another floor. I went, waited and asked. The lady was downright rude and said that was not even the office I had to be in. She was the deputy Taluk officer. She said I had to go to Ambattur (I had only heard of the place!). She gave me a number to call which was not working! I told her, she said that was the only number and that was that.
I was thankful I had engaged a call taxi instead of taking my bike. The driver told me that Ambattur was close by and he would take me there. In the meanwhile, I got the numbers of the Ambattur Municipality office and the Election Commission Office so as to get the directions to the said place. The numbers were either busy or would keep ringing. Finally got the response from one number, the guy gave directions and was just so in a hurry to finish the call. The directions turned out to be wrong!!! Anyways, there we went – the Ambattur Municipality office. Absolutely no one to guide anyone to the right place for this voter’s ID registration! Saw the form in the hands of a couple there with a baby. Asked them, they directed me. So off I went. I was in for a shock!! The lady there literally yelled at me when I started telling her I was there for registering into the electoral roll. She said yelled saying the last date was 23rd of February and that was that. I was told at Ayanavaram that those applying for the first time for the ID, the applications will be taken anytime. I conveyed this to the officer. She yelled saying “Well, if they said that at Ayanavaram, go there and apply!” I remained calm and told her they directed me to apply in Ambattur for my constituency. She looked at my address on the form; then asked me where I lived!!!! She said I was at the wrong place. Period. I asked her to direct me to where I must be. She then rudely says well, that is for you to find out somehow… Seriously – who the hell employs government officers?!! They need a course in etiquette!!!!!!
A man nearby witnessing this scene told me for the constituency I was in, I had to go to the Panchayat office near by about a few buildings down the road. He also added saying if they did not accept it there, I must head to the Taluk office. I thanked him and headed to the panchayat office. There they were polite enough and directed me to the Taluk office which was another 10 minute drive down the road. I must add here that my cab driver was more intent in getting the job done than me saying I was spending so much on the cab and going home empty handed was crazy! 🙂 At the Taluk office, headed to the Election Commission office. The first guy I gave my form to, started saying oh this comes under this whatever. I lost it there! I was like what am I ? Some ping pong ball where you keep tossing me from office to office? Meeting rude officers! The guy was polite. He spoke English and he asked me to have a seat. Then apologised for the ordeal I had saying he did not know the kind of people I had met, but he would help out. Then he directed me to another guy down a few tables. He took my form; gave the acknowledgement. During this time, the couple I met walked in and we smiled at each other. I knew they had encountered the rude lady @ Ambattur. I was at full flow saying how that lady was to these two helpful gentlemen. The couple walks in and they endorse what I said. The guy said ” While we are being so polite, why can’t she reciprocate?” The answer from the officer there…”you know what sir, that probably was the mistake! If you had been rude, she would have been polite!!” He also added that officer was known for her unfriendly, unhelpful attitude. Then why must such people take up office in public service?!
One thing the helpful officer said was this. He said they were just 4 permanent employees with the help of about 5 or 6 temporary recruits catering to 18 lakh voters! He asked us to understand his plight. I do as I did look at the paperwork strewn all over the place! Which also made me wonder whether my application would end up in the right place and I would get my voter’s ID ever?!
I have been told that this is just the first step. The ECI has to come verify my application, then call me for taking a photo for the ID and then issue one!! Long way to go before I get mine I suppose. Well, I was so happy to have just applied and when I heard this, it felt like my balloon just got a puncture!! Have to wait & see like every other thing in my life!! phew
PS: I was glad I had the sense to fill a bottle of water which was empty by the time I came home. It was hot is an understatement! I was glad I took the cab. The driver was really helpful. I am thankful to those who were polite. If this is the plight of someone who is literate, I wonder what the illiterate have to go through to apply for the voter’s ID.
I have written about this to Jaagore. I have not heard from them. I had written that the confusion is probably because Jaagore’s information is not updated and they were giving out old data!
PPS: I hope I don’t have to write a post like this for my ordeals to get a ration card which is on my agenda!! Wish me luck 😉