I was not aware what was waiting for me when my wife shook me up from Bed. Alarmed that one of her friend who got married after us got a Ration Card alias Family Card. I sluggishly asked “so what? We are not BPL, let the needy have it”. Apparently she was not convinced and listed the benefits that her friend is getting, Rice, Sugar, Wheat and other essentials at a price beyond my comprehension. I was a bit moved and gave her my word, unaware of the fact that applying Ration Card in Chennai is no way easier than escaping from a Hungry Dinosaur.
Visit 1 – Apply for Ration Card:
10:23 AM, December 24, 2015
There was a big queue; all had some kind of document proofs in hand and a few with ration card as well. Cursing my fate, joined the fellow citizens. At the 44th minute of standing under merciless hot chennai sun, got to know that the Queue was for Voter ID filing, not for Ration Card.
Rule: Never assume, ask
Very first time in my life, I was dumb struck without a clue how to react to that situation. Got pity on me, The Officer directed me to the Right place. When reaching the spot, you know, my hope of getting the card reduced to one fourth.(?)
I had no idea if it was an office entrance or a third grade fish market. Thank God, i had some raw experience in navigating such a crowd in Ranganathan street. Using 9 out of 7 techniques I had learned, steered towards the Guy sitting behind a table amidst of a noisy crowd.
Rule: Be Untamed
Asked him the procedure for filing application. He was calm and unexpectedly responsive. Seized the urge of asking if he really is an officer here. There were 2 parts of it, Form Writing and Form Filing. After a few minutes of joining Form writing queue, An old man asserted that we cant make it today as they ‘ll close in another 15 minutes. Oh shhh…! One and half hours before, I had entered as neat as Anniyan Ambhi as the original plan was to spend 15 to 20 minutes here and reaching office by 11 AM. But it was 12:25 PM and I was standing like the blind Kasi.
Rule: Expect the unexpected
Visit 2 – Reapply Ration Card :
8:55 AM, December 28, 2015
I was 30 minutes early to the spot, not allowing any chance of jamming in the crowd. The one next to me was testing my faith with the fact that no officer comes on time but soon the crowd will pour in. One of the very few instances that made me believe in god just happened; the form filling officer was on time. Not much crowd as well, happily waiting for my turn. 2 guys before me were rejected for unfit proofs. I just verified mine, I had all of them, delighted. At once seeing my name removal proof, Officer called the guy whom hejust rejected and showed him a seal in my proof. “Like this you need to get, get lost”, commanded the officer. I was very happy that my proof had that seal. While looking proud at the officer, he was searching something in my wife’s document and told “what sir, in your wife’s proof, no seal”. Me, “Whhaaaatttttt ..??”. “Go get it, Moved the file towards me”.
Rule: Over Confidence Hurts
When I got back in anxiety, “No need to worry, this is my 11th visit, you know”, told the same old fellow in compassion. It just hit me then, what was am really up to, the die-hard procedure for any civilian to undergo in the state to claim their basic needs.
Visit 3 – Ration Card Saga :
9:11 AM, January 4, 2016
Referring the official website almost 10+ times, had brought all the possible proofs that i could possibly have. It was a do or die Visit for me. First in the queue but the officer came 40 minutes late. He was verifying my documents and I was sweating in tension. He took the stapler in hand to attach the form with proofs and i gave out a sigh of relief. Wasting no time, ran towards the 2nd queue, ignoring the Aunt murmuring “Crazy fellow”. I was 4th in the queue. All of a sudden, a few locals gathered and formed 2 queues along with our main queue. I was ready to shout, waiting for someone to initiate. Guess, others too waited for the initiation and no one shouted.
Took almost 30 minutes just to submit the form. Got a challan like a counterfoil and asked happily, “when i will get the Card, Sir?” Officer gave a rough look, “Wait for field visit”. Me,”What was that?”, Officer never cared me, but someone in the queue told that field supervisor will visit my premise in 30 days and then only application will be processed. I was thinking, i had completed the successfully, but the fact remained that It was just half way down.
Rule: Never Give Up
Almost a month had gone, no field visit and no signs of someone visiting my premise. Waited for one more week, but no use. Just thinking of visiting that office itself, sent chills into my Spin.
February 12th 2016
I had known the field agents used to pop up only after 11 AM to office, so i arrived at 10:45 AM. With the experience of 3 past attempts, navigated the crowd easily and reached the person behind desk. He directed me to the Field agent corresponding to my area who sits in the first floor. The floor was deserted to my surprise and a few officers were very seriously working, but with their mobile phones. Bundle and Bundle of documents and Proofs were scattered around them. Approached my target very politely and carefully like entering into the HOD room in college days. It took him almost 5 minutes to turn his attention to me from the game he was playing in his mobile. Never minded of his poor gaming abilities, Bent like a question mark and gave him my challan.
Rule: Be Patient and Polite
Me : “Sir, Field visit is pending for more than a month”, in a husky whispering voice. Officer : “Ya, its very hot you know. Could not travel much”. Me : “Yes Sir, Summer started early”, acknowledged him “so only i came myself, Sir”. Officer : Looking deeply at me, “Ok. Let me try to stop by your place next week”. Me:“Sir.., but ..!”, giving him a room for negotiation. Officer noted something on the Paper, turned attention away from me. i just stood for couple of seconds there as a hint for negotiation and left without a choice. When i was about to hit the steps, felt a hand on my solder – Officer stood behind me with a wicked smile and apparently ready for an offer. Whatever happened next was a History and He signed my challan immediately with a post date – 16th Feb. Also happy to leave me his contact number and talked like a childhood friend before leaving.
Rule: Only Money, nothing else will do
I called him very next day for status and got the following information.
Application processing time : 1 week after the visit date marked in challan.
Card printing time : 2 months after the application processed.
I am eagerly waiting now for my Ration Card. Planning to visit after a month, just to track if things are alright.
Will keep you posted.
Edit 1 :
April 20th 2016
I visited the same Officer in April mid and Happened to know that the Ration Card issuance is temporarily stopped due to the State Assembly Elections, 2016. So he asked to come back in mid of June. Its almost 6 months now since I visited the Office First but still did not receive the Family Card.
When really the pursuit for my Ration Card will end, may god only know .!
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