I went on a whim. It was one of those days when the sense of duty shudders awake. I went without reading much on the procedures or even through my rather old Scooty’s RC book, as I was to find out soon! My current residence and the would-be new owner’s residence fall under the Koramangala RTO.
It was near lunch hour. I was asked to wait for an officer who would address my queries on the complications of transferring a vehicle that has got “Hypothecated to…” stamped on its RC book. “Madam will come”, I was assured when the wait was proving to be a little too long. No one would say when. I decided to stay meek and wait.
There was a sudden commotion and an entourage walked in with a lady in the center, dazzling in a silk saree, complete with jewellery and even flowers if I remember right. She was clearly, completely out of tune with anybody else sitting behind those drab counters. An Indian Bianca Castafiore, in an Indian government office! She was answering several queries at once, clearly in command, sounding very efficient. I just watched in attention, woken up from my meek waiting, not sure what has happening. Then she came closer to where I was standing along with the few others who were also waiting for madam. Only when she started looking at one of their papers did I realize that this was madam. I briefed her on my case and she told me that I had to get the Hypothecation cancellation form signed from my financier (my ex-company who had taken over my ex-ex-company whose loan it was that had been cleared a long time ago). She then asked for my RC book. She flipped a few pages and told me very swiftly – You shouldn’t be here first of all; it is the Indira Nagar RTO that you must go to! Oh no was my first thought, another RTO!
I was now armed with all the forms in hand. After a week or so I visit the Indira Nagar RTO with the filled in forms and a couple of documents but without the hypothecation cancellation form. I was hoping they would be logical. I wanted to avoid going to my ex-office with this request. I had my relieving letter from my ex-company so that means a loan if any stands cancelled.
The dingy staircase was here too and I use these stairs just looking at and keeping to the middle of the steps desperately blotting out the red stains and litter of cigarette butts and the mud filled cement pot that is kept at certain landings for the folks who cannot go through a simple 2 or 3 storey stairway without spitting. Yuck!
‘Enquiry’ points me to room 8. Much before that a gentleman asks me, yes? I must have had doubts written all over my face. I tell him what I have come for. He asks to see the documents. Without Form 35(Hypothecation cancellation) nothing will work. I give him my relieving letter logic. No. This would not be accepted. So I go head home.
After much difficulty I get the Form 35 duly stamped by my ex-office. I make another visit to the Indira Nagar RTO, this time on a Saturday. I see abnormally long queues; yet, I head to room no. 8. The sight of people standing, packed like sardines, within a dark room and nothing else visible was enough to send me packing. I did not look further or try to understand anything more. I just left. Maybe after all I should take general advice and give this to an agent.
On another Saturday I make one more attempt and this time Dad happens to be with me. This time we venture into the room 8 and break into and understand the chaos within and survive the queue. It is a badly lit room with the counters running along the length of the room. How can this be called a facility? Behind them are the people at work and behind them stacks and stacks of old rotting documents piled almost 6 feet high. I had an urge to put them to the shredder and bring some light into these rooms. These stacks too run along the length of the room and they block out any light from windows if they exist at all. To add to this whole somber scene were grey steel almirahs in front of the mesh and us, the people, giving us hardly enough space to stand in a single file.
We reach the counter for submission after a while only to have my documents rejected. A no-objection covering letter from the ex-company is required. By then I had lost a lot of patience and tell him I cannot go back, you already have form 35 which in itself is a no objection document (logic) so please just go ahead and process. For a brief fleeting moment I was ready to pay some bribe. Pathetic thought but that’s the way it happens I guess. Anyway, he takes my form and scribbles a list of 5 other documents that I need to produce and says this is procedure. I walk out in a filthy mood. It takes some time to shed away the somber hopelessness of that place.
Maybe it would be good to paint those bleak rooms and cheer up those folks! Whatever, am all the more determined to see this through myself now. Why does the government treat its offices and officers so shabbily? They function reluctantly; the people who are not used to dealing in such surroundings like you and me hesitate to go to them and instead often prefer to send agents. It is a murky wheeling and dealing that is going on here.