Planet Balkhu

Today I went there to get my provisional certificate. I had urgently needed it last Sunday (it has its own long story), but since they had said it was impossible to get it done that week, I was called a week later. Having been pretty experienced with “Balkhu” (a long story here too) I knew it was best nawt to fall for that, so went there 2 days later – i.e. today and guess what, it wasn’t still done! Myaan!!!

So I’m there at 10 AM in front of room number 3 waiting for the ‘jhyal’ to open. I knew the official time was 10:30 AM so was patient enough  to wait quietly for half an hour. The clock struck 10:30. There were a few people who had been waiting like me. They too as if through reflex action, looked at their watch and the ‘jhyal’. But the ‘jhyal’ remained closed. On entering the building I had seen a person sitting outside in a chair and his face had seemed familiar. Now I remembered. It was the same guy who is supposed to be the one among the two, behind the ‘jhyal’. How could I forget him! He had given me a hell of a time last week. He hadn’t even given me the application form – the first step to getting provisional certificate – for no reason, despite my saying that it was ‘urgent’. He had told me sometimes what, sometimes what, made me go up and down different buildings, then hours of being in queue baked under the sun. And then, at the end of the day, I had realized those were NONSENSE. His ‘we can’t’ could have saved me all the trouble and time wastage, on a day, when my application was due – precious time when I could be finishing the rest of my application!!! And the deadline was the next day (okay, there’s another story behind why I was there in the last hour – I was not leaving things for the last minute hai). So now it was 10:40 AM, and the guy whom I remember so well now, was still not inside the building.

You know it was just the ‘jhyal’ that was closed, ‘dhoka’ was open. But k garne, ‘jhyal’ bata matra kaam hoone. I had peeked into ‘dhoka’ earlier, there were karmacharis. Just the two people supposed to be in the jhyal were not there.

I did not want to lose any more precious time so remained rooted to my position – standing in front of one of the jhyals. Others had not bothered. But when the clock struck 10:45 AM they somehow realized that the centre is the ‘jhyal’ and hence came closer to it. No queue hai feri. Gawd! They could have lined up ni, nooo….people enjoy pushing and pulling, the competition…each one hoping to cut arkako palo. Anyways, I remained adamant. Stayed rt there in front of the ‘jhyal’.

Finally at around 10:55 AM we heard some noise behind the ‘jhyal’. The people waiting in the queue (supposedly to be a queue-waiting for turn) became all the more restless, and attentive, their feet taking them a step closer to ‘jhyal’. Shoot! The sound was coming from not the ‘jhyal’ I had been standing behind. Using my position as the closest to ‘jhyal’ I moved toward that ‘jhyal’. Phew! I could finally see a person’s face behind the bars, now that jhyal was open but bars appeared. But what! The person moved to the next ‘jhyal’ , the ‘jhyal’ I had abandoned jst a few seconds ago, the same one where I had been standing for almost an hour before that.  “Ok, he’s gonna open that jhyal and come and take the seat over here. After all that must be his seat no? He opened this jhyal first!”. But no. The person eagerly rested his bottom on the chair next to that abandoned ‘jhyal’ and took the bill from others who had had shifted to my place in front of that jhyal.

“No problem, another person will come here and I will get my certificate. After all I am the first one here – even though it is not a queue and anyone with a longer arm or a plumpy body could push me right out of my central position to get his/her bill to the person who will be soon sitting there.”

So finally, the person came. The same old guy from last week – he finally had decided to end his mini morning nap session and do his job!

“Sir…”

Without speaking he pointed to the other ‘jhyal’. “You get your certificates from that jhyal”.

Shooot! As I watched there were already a tightly knit-knot of people thronging in that jhyal – the same one I had abandoned. Damn! It was as if the jhyal was teasing me.

Anyways, I was getting late – I had said that I would meet my friend at 11! I had no time to waste. In the “Balkhu” planet, I immediately adapted to the culture. Blended into the mass, and there I was right next to the girl whose form was being processed. She had handed the bill and was waiting for her certificate at the abandoned jhyal.

While I waited for the girls’ work to be finished, it seemed as if the clock was running at the speed of light while the people were totally snail-paced. What takes 1 minute to write was taking 10 minutes! Ok, I’ll tell you in a while, how it is so. Anyways, my turn finally came. I handed the bill. Opps, there is this tall guy, bulldozing me, and extending his chor-type long hands, nearly shoving his bill at the face of  the person sitting in the jhyal! By now I was already aware of the snappiness of the karmachari. I thought why some of the karmacharis can have such an appetite for bitterness. The first girl too had received angry glares and jharkeko swor for nothing aghi. The long-armed man, got his share of gali for trying to rush things. “We are also working”, the karmachari had snapped. But the arm did not cease to get off my shoulder nor off the bars of the jhyal. Stubborn people!

I was kinda feeling satisfied that the person had infact refused to take the bill. It was my turn no? So he looks at my bill. Finally! I think “ok now, it’s just a matter of getting his hands on the package with “P” written on it, and find my certificate and then hand it to me. All I gotta do is sign, well the girl who had taken her original certificate had signed. Oh, where is my pen!” But he looked up at me and said. “Yo hoodaina”. I was dismissed! Just off like that after a struggle of 1 hour! Not even a minute?! No I wouldn’t budge.

“I was called a few days ago.”

“No 24 September (it was supposed to be 23 September – another ustai story) is the day you gave. Has it been 14 days since?”

“I was told it would be ready within 7 days. It’s urgent.”

“No. Go. Come back after a few days.”

” I had given proof with ‘documents’. It’s urgent Sir. Ma’m who sat here last week had said it would be done.”

“Hmmm…”

Without looking at me he took the long-armed person’s bill and started looking at files. So what did his hmm mean? Was he doing my work or the long-armed bulldozer’s? Gawd, I was getting late!

“Sir…”

Before I could speak there was a lady, who had barged into the room from the door which, we – the visitors of balkhu, were not supposed to cross. She said something in Newari. I don’t speak Newari, but I do understand it ali ali. So she was saying something about convocation forms, she and the guy who had come together had missed the deadline but really wanted to submit their applications for it.

Um… what? OK, last day form submission, that in itself is a negligence. One day after the deadline, submission, – impossible! What does this lady think? She’s late by almost 10 days!!! Moreover, why is she taking away the precious time?  I wished I could speak in newari, so that I could politely ask the karmachari about what he meant by ‘hmmm…’.

The karmachari patiently listened to the long long way of explaining the same thing of convocation by the lady and pointed to the jhyal. He asked her to come to the jhyal and talk to him.

“Thanks God!!” I said to myself.

“Sir…” I was about to ask about his ‘hmm…’

Another lady came into the room. She spoke in whispers. But I heard her. I am sure she was one of the karmacharis from another room, but she held a bill. It was stamped October 3. She was saying, could you please register it and then process it, so that we can get it today.

Oh I knew it! That bill belonged to the girl behind me! She’s now comfortable seated at the back seat, without any sign of eagerness to join the crowd in front of jhyal. She had submitted the bill yesterday and wanted the certificate today? Hellooo! ‘urgent’ works take 7 days re, but some can be done in a day?  What is?

Ok this time the lady now speaking in clear Nepali, had a pointed nose and big eyes. Definitely not a Newar. The snappy karmachari who was supposed to give me an answer nodded his head and kept the bill in his pocket. Finally, his attention came back to this table. There lay my bill, screaming to be lifted. But he touched the long-armed manche ko bill. It was too much. I was getting late and my patience was being severely tested. I said “Sir, tyo mero k bho?”

Finally, he seemed aware of my bill. Searched at the ‘poka’ with P on it but could not find mine. “It’s not yet done, come after a few days.”

“Sir but it’s urgent! I gave all the documents last week.”

“Ok.”

In what took like ages, he picked up the bill, walked over to the other end of the room, gave it to an elderly lady with a stack of files on her desk and said something, came back, started processing the long-armed guys documents.

“Sir, what is happening?”

“Yea, yea. It’s being done. You said urgent no?”

I sighed. At least it is going to get  done today. But when? I’m getting late. Moreover, wasn’t it supposed to be ready 2 days ago?

My eyes fixed on every move of the elderly lady now. She selected a file. Opened it up, searched for something, found, and then started to look a the bill and the documents that were attached. I don’t think normally it takes so long to read a document. But she did. Then finally she lifted her pen, and in the super slowest manner started to write. She looked at the bill, the documents and then paused (looong pause) and then wrote a word. Then, again before she had finished the same for the second word there came a person and said something to her. She got stuck replying the man. Finally her attention returned to her work. Ok, she took some time, trying to find what she was writing.

I checked my watch. It was over 11:30. Damn, I’m super late. Why aren’t there computers? Why aren’t there online systems? Why is it so chaotic. Those poor karmacharis they have to do all these dhadhas and dhadhas of work and all by hand. What more, I was seeing this man in the jhyal, and the lady, they were doing their work, but they had a lot of distractions. It was making their work soo slow, people screaming from the window, long-armed, short armed, plump, an urgent document, a newari speaker, another colleague frm the next room asking for a favor! Irritation from the first hour is therefore normal. I began to understand. But what would I do just understanding? I needed my document, it was urgent and I was getting late!

In what seemed like a century the lady finally finished writing. Slowly she put some spit on her fingers, folded the paper, and then started to tear it off the book. In equally super slow pace she arrived at this man’s desk and then handed the paper. If only papers could jump at our will! But what to do, that man on the seat would have to give it to me and he was busy finding some other people’s document. Finally when done, he took my certificate, raised it but instead of giving it to me, put it on the table again.

Why don’t people’s hands move faster. If only people got rust like iron machines, I would happily sponsor a bottle of mobile/oil/lubricant for them.

He lifted a heavy book, turned the pages one by one. (Is it even necessary to turn every page when you are trying to find the last page with something written on it? ufff) So finally found the page and gave it to the person standing next to me to sign.

He took my certificate. Asked me, “you are a Limbu?” there was a tinge of surprise. Maybe, I didn’t have a fooli on my nose – that’s mostly the case, people confuse me for a newar. Anyways, I said “yes”. He signed and gave it to me.

Behold the provisional certificate was in my hand!

“That’s it? I don’t have to do anything?”

“No”

I checked my watch. I was more than one and half hour late.

P.S.: Please do not take it otherwise when I mention Newari language being spoken –I was just trying to record my day in detail which I’m sharing with you.

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One comment on “Planet Balkhu

  1. Anjam says:

    Good piece ….Keep up the good work

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