So yours truly went gallivanting to the Andheri branch of the RTO, to get her permanent driving license. Right. So after spending what seemed like an eternity in the bus ride, I finally got off when the conductor announced Andheri RTO aala, utra Andheri RTO wale! Now people who know me really well (or not!) do know the amount of mental preparation I have to put in while crossing the road. So I need not mention that it took me 15 minutes to get to the other side. In my defense, it was the
Now to sympathize with me, you have to know a bit of the geography surrounding the RTO. To reach the goddamned place, you have to walk in straight through a tiny entrance of a construction site. Yes people, it’s pretty much like Harry Potter’s ‘Room of Requirement’, only a zillion times more disgusting. So when you’re through the entrance, you immediately end up stepping in a pile of construction dirt and what inevitably escapes your tongue is the choicest swear word you know. After you compose yourself and muster your dignity, you look up to find construction workers leering at you. Perhaps they secretly hoped that I was the new recruit their contractor had mentioned. Anyway, from here onwards the tasks keep getting increasingly difficult. When you move on from there, you come to this REALLY steep staircase consisting of around five huge steps, and if miss a single footing, you’re down straight into the sinking sewer there. The kind of smelly-poisonous-fume-emanating sewer I wouldn’t wish my enemies to ever come across. After holding onto the pretend railing for dear life and crossing the steps, you come to this area you can cross only by help of the almighty and your ancestors’ blessings. Yes, my dear ladies and gentlemen, you’re at the place where you can place only one foot at a time, with no railing, and ONE false step will land you straight into the aforementioned sewer. Ugh. And as if that wasn’t enough, there are people coming at you from behind and the front, and the only way you can let them pass is by forcing yourself through before them. Oh by the way, I hope you haven’t forgotten that I’m on my way to the RTO Office. Nope, not on a trek, and certainly not for an interview to gain employment at a construction site.
Whew! Finally you find a place where you’re supposed to walk over piles of cement (but after all that I’d gone through, walking over piles of cement felt like gliding in the air), more construction workers with gross fantasies about you and trucks coming straight at you. What you came across after that was the world’s share of marsh that was secretly conspiring to make you fall and soil your best jeans and chappals. I have never seen an ugly two-inch thick layer of marsh in my life. And all on my clothes.
I finally met the other people from my driving school and was handed over my form. Like schoolkids, we were made to stand in a big line and warned not to get in each other’s way. I half expected Stand with a finger on your lips! to be shouted out to us. 15 minutes into the line, and we were taken to this place and made to re-form the line outside a small room. Most of us thought that we were supposed to get new pictures clicked or something (I was hoping so vehemently, since as usual, the photo on my Learner’s License arouses fierce emotions of hilarity from everyone). But that wasn’t to happen. We were jostled out from that queue (without visiting the room), and made to stand exactly where we were before. Eh? Whatever, really. Perhaps forming and re-forming queues was their idea of entertaining us. Pshaw!After 15 minutes, we were made to re-form lines (AGAIN!) in a big ground, this time in front of a desk. Aha! Finally the test was going to happen. We submitted our forms again, and were made to make a brand new line, (What is it with these people and lines?) waiting for them to call us and start whizzing on wheels. At least there was something to look around here, while we waiting. Other driving schools had started with their tests and one of the students almost drove into us. I don’t blame him, because that’s what happens if you keep clutching at your steering and expect it to turn on it’s own and sense people ahead. I bet he didn’t get his license.
Finally, the line started moving and the butterflies in my tummy woke up with a jolt. I suddenly started wishing I hadn’t eaten those biscuits, nor drunk all that water. No no, I wasn’t afraid of the chance that my license would get rejected. What made me yellow with fear was that if it did, I’d have to brave all this AGAIN! I was rudely brought back to reality when I realized that the line was moving really fast, considering that people needed to finish their tests before the ones behind could start moving. Come to think of it, it was moving suspiciously fast. Surely they couldn’t have finished their tests! When I came to the desk, a bewildered me was asked to fish out 200 bucks. Why, I asked. For the SmartCard, Madam, I was told. Oh alright then. I handed over the cash and was told to come and collect my license on Saturday.
Umm…WHAT? Excuse me? Isn’t there supposed to be a test? Isn’t there going to be me sitting in the driver’s seat with an instructor breathing down my neck? Hey wait a minute…Was I just part of a BIG bribery racket? Somebody get me some water!
After what seemed like ages, I asked this menacing looking man from the driving school Uncle, test nahi dena hai? He gave me a dirty look and says, Nahi jao, sab hua hai.*gulps*
Do you realize the gravity of the situation? Just yesterday, 50 odd people got their licenses without knowing how to start a car, right in the RTO office. No no, an officer was actually inspecting all the cash being taken and the instructor telling us to go. Extremely funny, considering police are confiscating licenses of drunk drivers. Ermm…In the current scenario, you don’t even have to be drunk to knock people over. Just take your car out on the road and your job is done. And this was just yesterday. Can you imagine the number of people getting licenses like this EVERYDAY?
*gulps some more*
Do I still love my