Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fame before I leave

Passage to India - published in Telegraph. This will be my last blog entry before I leave Bhawanipatna and what better than to have the last two years of my life here summarised by The Telegraph Expat section. Follow the link above to view the article.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Insanity at Indane

Two years ago I purchased a commercial gas cylinder plus a regulator/tap for which I paid a deposit. However, domestic gas is much cheaper so I gave the gas to the Antodaya – they needed the larger canister not least because they cook my lunch every day – and I survived by using other people's domestic gas cylinders paying the cheaper price to fill them up. Now, I'm leaving I need to return the empty commercial bottle to get my Rs1650 (£23) deposit back. Talking to Baijayanta about how you did this, he seemed concerned that I hadn't actually used the regulator and that it was still in its packet. "If you haven't used the regulator, they will know it wasn't you that used the gas and you won't get your refund". "What difference does it make? How will they know?" Apparently it wasn't worth the risk so we swapped the new one for a used one on another bottle. "You'll also need your passbook and the voucher." Well I had the passbook but had no recollection of ever having received a voucher. Baijayanta started to look very worried. I suggested we just went to the office – I had the empty cylinder and a passbook to prove I had custody of one – what more did they need? So this morning with the cylinder and me loaded onto a cycle rickshaw and Baijayant riding his own bicycle, we proceeded to Indane, the gas office. The voucher, which turned out to be a receipt for the gas I had bought – the gas mind you not the bottle - turned out to be very important indeed. I stuck to my guns – if I had received a piece of paper like that I would have kept it – I can't have got one and, anyway, why do you need it? The man solemnly retrieved several books from a cupboard behind him and, starting with most recent, he inspected each and every receipt they had issued. I pointed out that it probably wasn't necessary to look at receipts issued 2010 or 2009 as the receipt, if in fact there was one, would be dated August 2008. He proceeded undeterred eventually producing a voucher bearing my name and signature. Oh well – I must have got one but problem solved as you have efficiently kept a copy. Absolutely not! Their copy was for their records, if I wanted a refund I would have to produce mine. Things then turned truly insane. If you lose your voucher, you have to produce an affidavit signed and stamped by a solicitor to confirm the fact – no affidavit, no refund. He produced the correct form – clearly I wasn't the only one to have been so careless – and after I had signed it, we all went to the Collector's Office. The Collector, however, has two offices so whilst Baijayanta peddled to one, the rickshaw driver and I ended up at the other. Several phone calls later, I was back at Indane whilst Baijayanta dealt with the lawyer – I obviously didn't need confirm my loss in person. The rickshaw driver was now getting restless and started making gestures that he was hungry and tired. I gave him a cigarette – I was already on my third – and he puffed away contentedly whilst I paced up and down trying to get my head round why I needed to have a legally endorsed affidavit to confirm I had lost a receipt of which Insane had a copy. Who, apart from the lawyer, actually benefits from the process? Couldn't I have just signed a form in the office? Why did they need the voucher in the first place? Well, I suppose this is India and wonders will never cease and, still confused, I eventually got back my deposit minus, of course, the Rs124 it cost for the lawyer.