A Miscellaneous government story
A Saturday it was, I remember, when I received the letter or rather a notice to appear for a special examination for a job that I had applied long back. A government job, the results of which I thought would never see the light of the day. Well it seemed I had gotten through the written test and next needed to appear for the special surprise test which was to happen two weeks later in utmost secrecy and we too were asked or rather cautioned against divulging anything about it, both pre and post test. It did seem weird back then. Why the secrecy? It was just an innocuous clerical job. My imagination had already started running on the double. “Could it be the RAW? Wooooww! My life was made if it was the RAW.”
And then the D day had arrived.
I was excited. I had taken the long twisted route to the venue checking repeatedly if I was being followed but barring aside a few mosquitoes that had managed to board along with me on the auto rickshaw , I was clean (as they say in spy parlance) when I reached destination.
There were few other applicants too who looked more apprehensive than amused, waiting for whatever they had planned for us. At about eleven, a member of the board who looked terribly bored came out of the seminar room and announced,
“We will be calling you for the special examination in a group of three for the interview. As you may have guessed, we have our expert panel here who will be conducting as well as guiding through it and after one batch of candidates are done with the tests, they will leave through the exit at the other end of the hall and will not be allowed to re enter the premises and you will never ever narrate nor discuss the procedure to anyone else, . If you are traced doing so, you will be banned from applying or appearing for any Government job permanently. You see, this is a part of a top secret experiment and you all should be proud of the fact that you are part of it. Thank you”
He waited for an applause but there was none.
Yes , it was getting more exciting as well as scarier. The thought of being a guinea pig or who knew, turning into one both thrilled and chilled us to the bones.
So we sat down waiting for the ordeal or rather the secret dealings to begin. I was slotted for the sixth batch, the last but one. Yes there were just twenty one of us.
Well it seemed that we were part of some elite group. ‘RAW, RAW ‘my mind screamed. I suppressed a smile that was half Lara Croft and half Charlie’s angels and the wait for the special test began.
The fact that the candidates who had gone in were not coming back was not helping much. We were totally clueless about what was going on there. In fact we didn’t even know if any of the people going in were actually alive after the test.
But, finally my moment came too.
The three of us shuffled inside the chamber of horrors, timidly.
Would we be eaten alive? Would we be meeting Doctor Frankenstien?
But surprise! The hall looked like any other normal place with three groups of interviewers at the three corners of the hall. Yes it was a triangular hall. We understood that we were to appear one before each group.
And then we steadily marched up to what fate had in store for us.
What happened next was unbelievable and I am sure you will shake it off as just another piece of sarcasm, but it isn’t. It did happen and I narrate it with great fear to my life but the truth has to be disclosed.
The first group of the lot had a bald middle aged man and a lady who was busy knitting something.
I wished them a good afternoon and sat alert in my seat.
Their bored, drowsy looks made me feel sleepy too.
“Ok , pick this up and let us see how use it?” baldie drawled out lazily.
“I still prefer the knitting though..” the lady interjected
It was only when they gestured towards the ‘it’ did I see the fly swatter.
Whoa! They couldn’t be serious I thought..but their expression told me that they were indeed Serious!
I picked it up . Well there didn’t seem many flies there. What was I supposed to do? Chase the flies ?
I knew it was a sham! That was no interview. They were just whiling away their time. The job was already given and these were just a cover up.
I felt a sense of hopelessness brimming over resulting in lethargy. Dejectedly I started swatting slowly, at nothing in particular. My posture went a dramatic change too. I slid down in my chair till I almost was half lying. To hell with etiquettes! I was angry and this was a way of showing my defiance.
After 30 seconds of my demo, the man let out an exclamation.
I was ready. I knew they were planning to throw me out of the hall.
But the interviewer surprised me by what he said next.
“Brilliant! This was what I had been looking for since morning, but none of the idiots had got it right! They were busy running about the hall swatting flies. This isn’t a competition for that.” He said emphatically.
“Fly swatting is an art! And it’s exclusive to government employees. It is a mark of regality associated with babudom only and If you can’t even get that basic right, how will you manage to survive.”
I was speechless both with joy and surprise. My unintentional sloth-ism had helped me in the end. If only my mom could see me now she would have been shocked. After all she was the one who used to shake her head and utter-What will come of this sloth?
The interviewer beamed and sat upright for the next one.
“Well you clearly cleared the first test. Let us see how you do on the second? Imagine this scenario. A man had come to you to get something done which will benefit him? How will you arrange it in such a way that a thing of solo benefit turns out to be that of mutual benefit? “
There was a mysterious smile on his lips.
Ah ! Bribery! I understood he was thinking of bribe. Now how does one ask for a bribe? I thought for a moment and then taking a deep breath replied,
“Why go for short term relief Sir, when we can apply a concerted effort and lobby instead for bribes to be made legal.”
Up shot an eyebrow the moment I said that. The Lady halted midway…
I clearly had their undivided attention.
The man spoke in a Snape-ish way- “E-la-borate please!”
“Well as you know men neither are perfect beings nor can we expect perfection from them. When they come for a service with the necessary papers, there are two scenarios. Either they have perfect paperwork or they do not. In both cases it is required that we scrutinize minutely, because a perfect paperwork is equally suspicious as improper paperwork. That will naturally increase the time for processing of the service request indefinitely. Now if somebody wants to speed up the process and is willing to cough some extra bucks for the extra service for the dealing clerk of his choice, what is so wrong about it? A job done needs to be rewarded, isn’t it?
They looked interested, and amused.
“And what about in the case of selection process where there is no question of paper work? How do you propose to defend it there?” Baldie whispered conspiratorially
“Perfection again sir! Perfection is always a matter of suspicion. And so sir, it takes time to scrutinize the authenticity of the whole even the high scorers. But in case someone speeds up his/her scrutiny , then according to the policy of first come-first serve they should be selected irrespective of their performance…In fact Sir, bribes should be renamed as speed up money.”
“Impressive! Really! …Ahem! Irrespective of what happens today, I think we should meet to have further discussions on it. What say?”
“Yes sir. Of course Sir.” I joined in enthusiastically.
“Alright then, here is the last question. How would you ensure an efficient public dealing?”
I almost felt like a future beauty queen on the podium with the final question requiring a winning answer.
I pondered a bit. Images of my teenage years flashed through.
I hesitated before replying
“Well I would go for the ABCD policy of public dealing. The best among the non confrontational methods and as you know non confrontation is the key in public dealing…”
“ABCD..what is that? Any body can drink?”
“ A for Avoid- First you avoid a subject. Run, hide or disappear. But if he still manages to catch you then,
B for Bypass- Pass him on to some other- Sharmaji, verma ji, anyone who has started plan A. But I know sometimes, subjects can be very persistent. In that case
C for Confuse – Confuse him with technical jargons, legal matters, has beens and has nots… Anything that ties him in a knot. But if he still, yes still, sits out with you then ah! My favorite or the universal favorite
D for Delay-till the next day, next week, next month…He just will not stand a chance nor will there any energy remain in the subject for a confrontation. And so there they were ABCD…”
Oh ! I used to apply these methods successfully during my teenage years for time management .-my personal time management. My mom just could never get anything done by me.
I was so engrossed in my theory that I did not notice that I had gathered some more audience. There were a few other persons who were looking at me now,amused.
I felt smug! “I have created some impact” I thought.
Well so, did I get the job? No I didn’t , but , yes I was offered the post of a trainer in a top secret finishing school for government employees, outside the country. Huge salary, perks and everything fancy! Yes it was a foreign institute exclusively for our desi employees. That meant that I wasn’t bound by any contract of secrecy, hence my story before you today. But I still cannot divulge everything. Times are harsh! There are still some things that one cannot deal with ABCD.
But it surprises me. I bagged a prestigious job solely on the basis of all the so called nuisance value that I had acquired during my young years and that which used to embarrass my parents no end.
Governance does have endless possibilities and endless applications.
Well readers this was a true story as narrated to me Miss Cellany by a reader of FE who desired complete secrecy. About the veracity of the story, I cannot say. I never did try to check it out. Sounded too satanical rather than Satirical.
But it does have parts which…
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