Power, Patience and Passing the Test
July 23, 2009
Had we not been given proper directions, it would have, anyway, been hard to miss the Driving License Theory Test office. A good 900,000 people were standing outside its single door. In this heat, with no fan and no water, I estimated my survival at 20 minutes. Driven by despair, like Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments, I made the Red Sea part open. I charged. And somehow reached. Inside the office.
I handed over my file to the officer in charge. To tell you that I took an instant dislike to him would be a wild understatement.
He had the satisfied, obnoxious look of the wanker. With every single move, every single glance, he meant: Check me out, female. I am the second assistant under-officer in charge of the driving license theory test in the city of Jaipur. Whatever power I have, I make the most of it. I will make sure you suffer. I will make sure you fear me. I want you to beg me.
A massive jerk. I bet he was a wife-basher.
My silent utter raging disgust was hard to conceal.
He went through my file, very very very slowly, examining each paper at length, underlining words, double-checking everything. Finally, after what felt like 4 hours, he pointed at a photocopy of my lease agreement and said something in hindi. I shook my head.
“No hindi” I lied.
Surely, with such cockiness oozing out of his pores, the wanker’s English was as crisp as his uniform.
He looked at me.
“This paper. No notarize.”
He was right. There was no stamp on it. The bastard. I would have to go back to the little huts, spend another hour in agony, and do the Moses miracle again. I was exhausted.
I called Mr F, who braved the Red Sea and joined us in the crowded office. Now in the presence of a well-dressed male, as opposed to a female, who as we all know does not qualify for rudimentary courtesy, the guy turned obsequious. After a few niceties with Mr F, who name-dropped a few heavyweights, he brushed away the absence of stamp as a silly detail and agreed to let me sit for my test. Now. From being told off without a second glance, I went to being ushered in, jumping the line and finally sitting for my godforsaken test.
Although I had read the fabulous booklet, I didn’t believe it would help. I was terrified.
“You help me”, I told the peon. He laughed.
“No no no no no help!”. But he waved to Jerky the Clerk, who moved his imperial body and walked over. Another peon joined in.
The test started. Believe it or not, I knew all the answers for the questions were, my dear, exactly the same than in the booklet. I even had, to my utter delight, the “cattles driving carefully” one. I scored 15 on 15. But I need not have performed so well, since 9 out of 15, I was fazed to learn, is sufficient to pass.
Sadly, nobody will ever give me credit for this spectacular performance because to the outside world, and the remaining 900,000 people waiting to sit for their test, I had three people, including the officer in charge, giving me the answers.