Skip to main content

Duplicate



Fiction

The Prime Minister was addressing the nation on the TV when Carlos walked into the Regional Transport Office. “By the year 2024, all duplicate citizens in the country will be deported,” the PM said with his characteristic aplomb and histrionics.
“I lost my driving license,” Carlos said to the man at the enquiry counter. “What should I do?”
“You need to apply for a duplicate license,” the man helped. “Do you have a copy of your license?”
“Not a hard copy,” Carlos said. “I have this.” He showed the digital license he had downloaded in Digilocker on his mobile phone.
“You should meet the MVI [Motor Vehicles Inspector] there.” The man pointed to a cubicle where an elderly man was sitting with a pile of papers in front.
Carlos showed his digital license and sought assistance.
“This is not a valid license,” the man said taking Carlos’s mobile phone and peering at the screen. “Your license was issued in 2017 when the number system was different. How did you get this license?”
“From Digilocker. Automatic download.”
The man shook his head as if he was suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect.
“You don’t have a hard copy of your license?” The man asked condescending to look at Carlos.
“I’m sorry, no.”
The man pulled the keyboard of his desktop and banged on some keys. Then he picked up a piece of wastepaper from the dustbin and wrote a number. “This is your license number. But your address falls under another RTO. So you have to apply for the DL particulars first.”
“Pardon,” said Carlos. He had no idea what deeyel was.
The man wrote ‘DL particulars’ on the scrap paper and thrust it towards Carlos with a wave of hand that indicated, ‘Now get lost from here.’ He returned to the pile of papers.
Carlos walked to the inquiry once again and asked how to apply for deeyel particulars.
“Go to Akshaya,” the man at the inquiry said.
Carlos had noticed the Akshaya centre right opposite the RTO because of the large crowd in it. He soon merged into the crowd. It took a couple of hours before the application for deeyel particulars materialised in the form of some printed sheets which he carried with much fervour to the RTO. He had paid Rs 110 for that precious document.
“The time is over for accepting application for deeyel particulars,” said the lady to whom the inquiry man had directed Carlos.
“Should I come tomorrow?” Carlos asked pathetically. The lady concealed her Dunning-Kruger effect and mumbled, “There’s a fast track counter there which will open after 2 o’clock. You can try there.”
No one appeared at the fast track counter until 3 pm. The lady who appeared behind the grill seemed to be a personification of the Dunning-Kruger effect. “Come at 4.30,” she said curtly.
Carlos placed himself on a chair outside the office and watched men and women walking up and down in the office with papers in hands. Papers and papers in the hands of Dunning-Kruger effects. In a world that had become digital.
Carlos began to feel that he was an impostor. He had not heard of impostor syndrome, however.
The air in the office as well as the enclosed courtyard where Carlos was sitting smelled curiously musty and mushy. It had the effect of some drug on Carlos. He felt intoxicated. He enjoyed sitting there. He thought he enjoyed sitting there. He began to do pranayama the way that Baba Ramdev taught to do on the TV.
It was almost 5 pm when Carlos was woken up by a man who asked, “Are you Carlos K?”
Carlos K rushed to the fast track counter feeling immensely guilty for his drugged delay.
“I’m sorry,” he apologised to the lady at the fast track counter.
“Just a minute,” mumbled the lady.
Carlos waited.
Continued to wait.
Dunning-Krugers were shutting down their desktops, shutting files, shutting shelves, shutting and shutting.
“Here,” the lady handed him a single sheet of paper whose first line was a caption, ‘Driving License Particulars’. “You have to take this to your RTO.” The lady shut the counter after that.
“My RTO!” Carlos was amused.
He felt giddy as he walked out of the RTO into the fresh air outside.
Carlos was at his RTO the next morning.
“You need to fill up the application for a duplicate license,” he was advised by the new Dunning-Kruger.
Another Akshaya. Another crowd. Another wait. Another bunch of papers that cost him Rs600.
“Meet the MVI.” A new order.
“How did you lose your license?” MVI asked.
Carlos was an impostor. He didn’t know how he had lost his driving license.
“Did you check all the possible places?”
“Yes.” He had checked even the impossible places.
“All right. You’ll have to apply now for the change of address at that last counter.”
“Change of address? But my address has not changed.”
MVI peered over his spectacles. “The address of your RTO has changed, hasn’t it? You have to pay the fees for that.”
Another Dunning-Kruger now. At the last counter. “Can’t you see I’m dealing with another case. Wait.”
Carlos had not seen the other ‘case’. But wait he did.
“You haven’t attached the envelope for sending your license.” Dunning-Kruger said when her other ‘case’ had been dealt with and she had snatched Carlos’s bunch of papers.
Carlos went to Akshaya which he thought was the ultimate remedy for all lacunae.
“Rs50,” Akshaya said handing him an envelope.
Carlos rushed back to his RTO which also had the same musty, mushy smell as the other RTO that was not his.
“You haven’t written your phone number on the envelope,” Dunning-Kruger said looking at the address that Carlos had written as instructed by Akshaya.
“Can I borrow that pen?” Carlos asked picking up Dunning-Kruger’s pen from her desk.
“I need it.” She protested.
“I’ll return it. Just a moment, please.” Carlos-the-impostor pleaded.
“Should I pin the envelope along with the papers?” Carlos asked as he placed the lady’s pen near her stapler.
“I’ll do it,” she said grabbing the stapler before Carlos could lay his hands on it.
“Pay Rs 260.”
Paperwork in a digital world is quite expensive, thought Carlos as he pulled out his wallet.
“You will get your duplicate license by post,” Dunning-Kruger said handing him the receipt for the money he paid. “The word duplicate will be printed on it. It will be there now till the end of your life.”
“Thank god I’m old,” Carlos mumbled.
“What?” Dunning-Kruger was not amused. “It is up to God to decide your lifespan.”
Carlos saw himself smile. “Dunning-Kruger is more powerful than god,” he said.
The woman stared at him. Carlos didn’t see the stare since he had turned to walk out into the fresh air outside where he knew he would feel giddy for a while.





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Aberration of Kali Yuga

Are we Indians now living in an aberrant period of history? A period that is far worse than the puranic Kali Yuga? A period in which gods decide to run away in fear of men? That’s a very provocative question, isn’t it, especially in a time when people are being arrested for raising much more innocuous questions than that? But I raise my hands in surrender because I’m not raising this question; the Malayalam movie that Maggie and I watched is. Before I go to the provocations of the movie, I am compelled to clarify a spelling problem with the title of the movie. The title is Bhramayugam [ ഭ്രമയുഗം] in Malayalam. But the movie’s records and ads write it as Bramayugam [ ബ്രമയുഗം ] which would mean the yuga of Brama. Since Brama doesn’t mean anything in Malayalam, people like me will be tempted to understand it as the yuga of Brahma . In fact, that is how I understood it until Maggie corrected me before we set off to watch the movie by drawing my attention to the Malayalam spelling

Karma in Gita

I bought a copy of annotated Bhagavad Gita a few months back with the intention of understanding the scripture better since I’m living in a country that has become a Hindu theocracy in all but the Constitution. After reading the first part [chapters 1 to 6] which is about Karma, I gave up. Shelving a book [literally and metaphorically] is not entirely strange to me. If a book fails to appeal to me after a reasonable number of pages, I abandon it. The Gita failed to make sense to me just like any other scripture. That’s not surprising since I’m not a religious kind of a person. I go by reason. I accept poetry which is not quite rational. Art is meaningful for me though I can’t detect any logic in it. Even mysticism is acceptable. But the kind of stuff that Krishna was telling Arjuna didn’t make any sense at all. To me. Just a sample. When Arjuna says he doesn’t want to fight the war because he can’t kill his own kith and kin, Krishna’s answer is: Fight. If you are killed, you win he

Kabir the Guru - 1

Kabirvad Kabirvad is a banyan tree in Gujarat. It is named after Kabir, the mystic poet and saint of the 15 th century. There is a legend behind the tree. Two brothers are in search of a guru. They have an intuitive feeling that the guru will appear when they are ready for it. They plant a dry banyan root at a central spot in their courtyard. Whenever a sadhu passes by, they wash his feet at this particular spot. Their conviction is that the root will sprout into a sapling when their guru appears. Years pass and there’s no sign of any sapling. No less than four decades later, the sapling rises. The man who had come the previous day was a beggarly figure whom the brothers didn’t treat particularly well though they gave him some water to drink out of courtesy. But the sapling rose, after 40 years! So the brothers went in search of that beggarly figure. Kabir, the great 15 th century mystic poet, had been their guest. The legend says that the brothers became Kabir’s disciples. The b

Raising Stars

Bringing up children is both an art and a science. The parents must have certain skills as well as qualities and value systems if the children are to grow up into good human beings. How do the Bollywood stars bring up their children? That is an interesting subject which probably no one studied seriously until Rashmi Uchil did. The result of her study is the book titled Raising Stars: The challenges and joys of being a Bollywood parent . The book brings us the examples of no less than 26 Bollywood personalities on how they brought up their children in spite of their hectic schedules and other demands of the profession. In each chapter, the author highlights one particular virtue or skill or quality from each of these stars to teach us about the importance of that aspect in bringing up children. Managing anger, for example, is the topic of the first chapter where Mahima Chowdhary is our example. We move on to gender equality, confidence, discipline, etc, and end with spirituality whi

Kabir the Guru – 2

Read Part 1 of thi s here . K abir lived in the 15 th century. But his poems and songs are still valued. Being illiterate, he didn’t write them. They were passed on orally until they were collected by certain enthusiasts into books. Vipul Rikhi’s book, Drunk on Love: The Life, Vision and Songs of Kabir , not only brings the songs and poems together in one volume but also seeks to impart the very spirit of Kabir to the reader. Kabir is not just a name, the book informs us somewhere in the beginning. Kabir is a tradition. He is a legend, a philosophy, poetry and music. I would add that Kabir was a mystic. Most of his songs have something to do with spirituality. They strive to convey the deep meaning of reality. They also question the ordinary person’s practice of religion. They criticise the religious leaders such as pandits and mullahs. Though a Muslim, Kabir was immensely taken up by Ram, the Hindu god, for reasons known only to him perhaps. Most of the songs are about the gr