Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Registering with the police

This morning Torun, an artist friend of Dillip's, came by the office to help me register with the police. He is related to someone high up in the district police force which always helps to smooth the process. We went to the police station only to find that the District Commissioner wasn't there so we popped round to his house - a nice pad with more police wandering round it than in the station itself. I was taken to a small back office where two official-looking men told me they had no idea what to do, they only knew how to arrest people. Whilst I sat there smiling inanely at everyone who came in to gawp at "the foreigner", numerous phone calls were made interspersed with animated discussions – all in Oriya of course so I had no idea what was going on. A couple of hours and several cups of tea later, I was presented with a form to sign and informed I was officially registered. Heaven knows if I actually am but only time will tell.

I was then granted an audience with the District Commissioner himself who sat behind an enormous desk (devoid anything that looked like work) in front of which were five rows of rather elegant gilded dining chairs upholstered in red velvet. I seated myself centre front. Bibek was a formidable man with an immaculate handle-bar moustache but seemed quite human underneath all the pomp. After the usual pleasantries – "Where do you come from?", "Do you eat rice?", "Where is your husband?", he informed me that his men would keep me safe and proceeded to invite me to supper when my Oriya had improved. I'm not sure if this will prove to be an incentive but it's probably a good idea to keep on the right side of those in power.

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