Friday, August 19, 2011

The Driving License Story, Part 2

So, finally the day arrived for the written exam. I went again to the RTO Office and to my surprise, the exam was in Hindi. And it was not normal spoken Hindi. It was almost similar to Sanskrit since some of the words; I had difficulty in even pronouncing. When I look back now, the quality of the paper for the written test was worst than toilet paper. I remember, I hardly finished all the questions in the stipulated time. But anyways, the exam ended and I headed back home after checking when the results would come out. I had few hopes of passing the exam but somehow I passed the exam. I got to know it when I went to again to the RTO Office, my fourth time. The next step was the practical exam.

I was asked to bring a car with me to give the practical driving exam on a particular date. Now this seemed a bit strange to me. Ideally, since I don’t have a driving license, it should not possible for me to drive my own car from my house to the RTO Office to give the exam. That would mean that I am driving the car in the city without a driving license. So, after thinking what to do, I asked my cousin sister who is even younger than me and also without a driving license but drives very well to take me to the RTO Office in my dad’s car just to make sure that the examiners don’t suspect anything foul. As proposed, we went to the RTO Office and the examiner asked me to drive the car in a circle in the large free space behind the RTO Office. I was expecting him to accompany me in the car. But on the contrary, he asked me to drive by myself and he will watch me driving sitting in his office through his window and then judge me. I was a bit taken aback by his way of taking the exam but I had to do as asked. I did the same, drove in circles in the open field with my cousin sitting in the back seat. This was my practical test. I did not even drove in the city on real streets. After a while, I was asked to stop and park the car and come to meet the examiner. I went to him and he said I passed the test and on this particular date, I must come and collect my license. I was simply overjoyed by the news. I thanked the officer and drove back home.

That evening, I was thumping my chest with pride, that look at me, I proved my point. I showed the world that governmental work can be done without bribes. Of course on has to take some efforts, sweat himself out and make some trips to the Office but finally it can be done. I told my friends and family how people should behave, how educated people should act. Frankly speaking all of them were surprised and amazed since none of them knew that a license can actually be made legally. Even my father was a bit taken aback but he felt proud of me.

On the designated date, I went to the RTO Office to pick my new, legally made driving license. I was told that due to some malfunctioning in some machine which prints the license, the delivery is delayed and I will have to wait another one week. I said no problem and went back home. After about 10 days, I again went back to the RTO Office (this was my seventh time) to collect my license. This was the moment of truth. This was the day, I never forget in my life. This was the day, the world laid naked in front of me. This was the day, I was refused my driving license. I had stood in the line outside the distribution window for more than an hour again in the sun and when my turn came, the guy distributing them said, saab kuch chai paani to do. I said what chai paani? I had already paid the legal fees and cleared the tests and I could see my license lying on the table. But the guy again insisted that I must pay him some money. I refused it bluntly. He said in that case your license has not yet been made and come after another week. I was furious and went inside to complain to his superiors. No one listened or paid any attention to me. I returned to the guy and politely asked him to please hand over my license. He started showering abuses to me and asked me to get lost. Later did I got to know that this chai paani is distributed in the complete system of the RTO Office. I felt dejected and ridiculed. My family made fun of me, my friends made fun of me. A feeling of remorse took over me, that why did I not listened to them in the first place and get the thing done in the luxury of my house by just paying some guy Rs 500. But I did not gave up. I wrote a complaint letter to the local politicians. Nothing was done. I was further ridiculed for not going the “conventional” way by paying some money and getting the job done. But I was stubborn. I refused. My parents asked me to at least take a lesson from this and go and collect the license by paying the chai pani and move on. I refused again. I was not able to accept the fact that this thing happened. That things work like this in the real world. I never went again the RTO Office in my life again.

After a month, I had to leave India to start my post graduation in Germany. The first thing I did after getting a Job here was to make a driving license. I must tell you that it takes around 3-4 months to make it and enough money has to be spent (as much as it would cost for 2 return trips from Germany to India). But finally I got it.

Now when I got to India, I use my German driving license. I still refuse to go to pick up my license from the RTO Office. Yes, I am stubborn.  


Purba said...

Glad you did not succumb to such pressure tactics. said...

Hey thanks ! As they say ... a man's got to do what a man's got to do !!

Neha said...

Apparently my driving school fees included the chai paani for the test. The day I went to get my license made, I realized that the driving school had a 'setting' with the RTO. Hence the written test was a joke. And the driving test was a bigger joke. And here was yours truly worrying, whether I will be able to reverse and park properly or drive around the cones! No kidding, I had the license in my hand in less than an hour of giving that 'test'. No wonder people drive like maniacs in India. said...

Thanks for sharing your experience Neha. A cousin of mine knew someone who knew the RTO Officer. They went direct to his office, gave him the photographs, had a cup of tea and by the end of the samosa, the license was on the table!! :D I am quite notorious in my family for going to govt. offices so they prefer doing it themselves in the "right" way :)