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Baksheesh

29/10/2015

Not my Enfield - just an example

I tossed up whether to ride the Enfield when I went to apply for my Indian driver’s licence. That’d be a bit cheeky. Rolling up on a bike to get the papers I needed to legally ride it. I decided to park around the corner. Just so it wasn’t right in their faces.

The guy behind the counter was saying a lot of helpful things while being decidedly unhelpful. I hadn’t packed my Australian licence because buying the bike had been a spur of the moment decision. I’d fallen in love with a lump of machinery. Nonetheless I had sufficient ID and was fairly confident of passing a riding test. Maybe I could even bluff my way through questions about Indian road rules. If there were any. But this dude only seemed interested in smiling, nodding and doing fuck all. While the queue of people behind me steadily lengthened. I finally twigged. Five hundred rupees in my application form and everything began moving smoothly.

Yeah, it was corrupt. But eminently practical. I got my licence the next day whereas if I’d tried to do things above board I would have waited weeks or months. I probably still wouldn’t have it when my visa expired and I had to sell the Enfield. In the meantime I would have had to pay a ‘fine’ to every cop who pulled me over, for whatever amount he thought he could get out of me.

Should I have imposed my own idea of integrity on the process and made things harder for everyone?

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From → autobiography

5 Comments
  1. It’s piss-offing, the system, even for us Indians, so I can well imagine what it must be for a “gora firangi” (a fair skinned foreigner, aka easy meat). Apologies from my side and if it’s any consolation, they prey on us, the relatively better off, as well, because the process is so damn opaque and frustrating that “speed money” is most times the preferred recourse. I wish we’d improve, but such is reality! Hope you’re enjoying India, warts and all!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, I enjoyed India so much I spent nearly five years there between 1984 and 1996.

      No apologies necessary. Power is like that everywhere it exists. Here in Australia we’re a touch more discrete and like to pretend corruption doesn’t exist. I’ve seen thousands change hands here to protect people from prosecution. I’ve benefited from it myself. It’s like food. It’s all got its unique local flavour but you can find it no matter where you go.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. There’s the sense that it’s derived from ‘common sense’ just takes a while to learn the rules (?)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL You are in India? For what? You know things are same there in Pakistan too. You stand in long queues to get your rightful documents or things and when you finally reach the person sitting in the office, he says oh no I can’t do that you need this document and that. Some 500 or thousand rupess always close their mouth shut. Isn’t it amazing though? How easy it is 😛

    Like

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