“The wheels turn slower in India, you’ll have to take the time to get used to this.” – Rahu
When you have a population of over a billy, how do you keep as much of it as you can in employment? Some will point to India’s vast informal economy. Fools! After nearly two weeks in the country I am supremely qualified to ask that we consider the Indian civil service – To the peeps at the shiyakusho: all is forgiven!
Every foreigner who will be residing in India for 180 days or longer has to register at their local Foreign Residents Registry Office within 14 days of their arrival. Without a foreigner registry card you can’t do much of anything that requires some kind of contract: bank accounts, phone lines, home internet, and the like. Needless to say that without these it would be very difficult to do my thing.
My experience of Indian bureaucracy to date has convinced me – for the moment – that the whole thing is one giant middle-class growing perpetunator™. Lawd knows what use there was, apart from the salaries, for the layers that stood between me and my foreigner card.
First there was a bearded man and his female assistant sitting at a cramped desk behind an iron grate. You hand them your documents, which they check over, then you collect a ticket number from one of the four middle aged men sitting at a wide desk, speaking loudly in Kannada (the local language) and English. Their job is to call up numbers and review documents once again.
Two Japanese fellows who’d turned up with an Indian assistant became increasingly annoyed by the fact that they were completely at a loss to understand the application process, and these bad-boys were refusing to help them. No entreaties from the Indian assistant could get them to budge. Nebula, the head of admin, pointed out to me her perception that anyone who came at these four fine fellows in any language other than Kannada was being treated with about as much regard as Galactus has for sentient life.
Lucky for me Nebula is a native speaker of Kannada. Two layers down. The next part of the process required me to head upstairs to the complete the second stage of the process. No help allowed. So I went upstairs alone and without a clue about what to do next. I ended up repeatedly requesting help from one of the numerous, bored-looking attendants until she decided to wave me over to one of her colleagues.
Layer three involves going to a desk to have your application documents checked over again, after which you are sent over to another desk, right next door, where your application documents are checked once more – you’re sensing a pattern emerging here, deshou? – You are then sent to the Assistant Director’s office to see the Assistant Director, who was an incredibly bored looking man sitting behind a huge desk, watching Indian soap operas on a small flat screen television. The man did not look at me once.
As I entered his office the Assistant Director’s droog – a thin, deadly looking man – motioned for me to hand him my application documents, which he then checked. He then handed them to the Assistant Director who read over them, took a pen, and signed some pages. Layer five down. I was now ready for my interview at desk number 4.
The lady at desk 4 told me to come back after lunch…