…Continued from earlier. In gist, our dealings with the local Delhi government towards getting our marriage registered.

Armed with a ‘reference’ provided by someone-who-knows-someone-who-knows-someone, we reached the concerned office 10 minutes past the designated time..blame it on our tardiness combined with the awful approach to the offices of the Sarkar (translated as government, can also refer to an ‘individual’, symbolising the powers and influence he wields).

It appears that the area surrounding the government office in question, a site chosen for the convenience of users, has been overwhelmed by the burgeoning industrial area around its periphery. With due respect to the disaster management response vehicle in the office premises, one hopes the authorities in question pay adequate attention to the entry/exit issues plaguing the offices. If the offices can’t be shifted, it is but natural to seek an improvement in traffic management, unless the authorities are okay with arriving at ground-zero after the hens have gone home to roost (true Bollywood style, that).

Having filled up some more forms (the staff was amazingly receptive, now that we were suitable armed with a reference) and having wearied of a game of hide-and-seek with the birds, narrowly escaping their attempts to coat us with their unmentionables as we stood outside the office (a surprising lack of basic amenities), we were ushered into the presence of the approving authority. Having examined our documents, he clarified that since the marriage was solemnised in another city (Baroda, Gujarat), the bride didn’t belong to Delhi anymore rendering the issue irreconcilable. While we came away disappointed, his reasoning seemed to be within the confines of law, as argued by him. We don’t grudge him that, especially as government servants begin to wield the ‘book’ under extensive public scrutiny post the recently held elections.

What we did was ponder over were some issues that merited a little brooding (a decent way to pass the time as we negotiated traffic). This is also an effective ‘indigenous’ response towards reconciling oneself with the doggedness of the powers that be. Make peace alright, but not without the usual bout of cribbing, which is a god-bestowed right, exercised unabashedly by every Indian.

The first thing that struck us was that the so called reference, who held a similar post prior to his present appointment was surely aware of the rules. Why then the Kolaveri Di? For one, while online process may not be in vogue, one can at least expect relevant extracts from the rule books to be pasted online. It wouldn’t take too long for the rules, the description of the process and the various forms required to get populated on the government website. A small step in governance, but a giant leap towards greater transparency, reducing uncertainty in the process (I guess the ‘unknown’ is more unnerving than the outright ‘rejection’). And yes, these rules need to have the 4Cs built into them – Crisp, Clear, Concise, Correct (flyboys, take a bow).

Else, the other ‘ingenious’ but sometimes unwelcome ‘jugaad’ that Indians are so proud of, rears its head from time to time. This time it was my better half, quipping rather impressively that ‘had we printed a wedding card with Delhi as the venue the bloke wouldn’t have made such a fuss’.  With the right ‘degree’ of reference, we could indeed have pulled it off. And by the way the staff handled our paper-work (checking and double-checking our documents), it appears that interruptions like the one described can be brushed aside with ‘discretionary’ judgment on the part of the Sarkar.

If only the government did something about the nagging suspicion that  ‘a level-playing field is still a pipe-dream, and the road to it littered with whimsical discretion’ amidst a culture of favours and references. And while we are on the subject of ‘roads’, will someone tend to road leading to the government office, in the interest of the ‘disaster response’ community of Delhi?

For now, we’re happy that at least our documentation is in order for the next attempt (in Baroda, can’t say when). For those not overtly familiar with Indian culture, it is worth mentioning that while registering a marriage is required by law, greater credibility is rendered through social acceptance, rendered through a ceremony and presided over by scripture reading priests and attended by a well represented gathering of well-wishers from both corners (red and blue). To dispel any doubts, happy married we are, whether Sarkar likes it or not.

Looking forward to the next one.