Driving License in India

I have gotten my driving license about 8 years ago but I thought to write my experience at the RTO (Road Transport Office) office today. Actually my friend was talking about applying for a driving license today and it made me remember my experience and I decided to write about it. I was 20 years old when I applied for my driving license so about seven years ago. The RTO office was about 25 KMs from the city area and the city transport system crazy as it is now so I asked my friend to take his motorbike to go there. We reached at the RTO office and this office also looked as crazy as other Indian government offices.

The office was so crowded, full with people and animals, believe me there were dogs and cows sitting inside the office premises. People were chewing paan and spitting all over the office, the whole floor was red because of spit of the paan. There were touts (commission men) wandering here and there, looking for new confused face like I had. One of them came to me and asked if I needed a driving license and of course I wanted one so I told him yes. And then he said that he would help me getting the license but he wanted some money for it.

My other friends had suggested me to not go to RTO office to get license as fake licenses were easily sold in the market but I did not want to do any illegal work. I had met an advocate asking about the procedure of getting a license and he told me that I could get it even without going to the RTO office only by giving some extra money. My advocate said that money is everything at RTO office, if you spend money, you get whatever you want, otherwise nothing. But I had thought to go to the RTO office and let things go on in front of me.

So I told that commission man that I did not want his help but he kept coming to me asking if I needed his help and I told him again and again that I did not want any help. We were looking for any information center but actually there was no such place where people could get any information. We asked someone among the general public about the procedure and they told me to get a form first. We went to the form counter and there was a long queue. I was in the queue for a while and when my turn came, I saw a blind person giving the forms.

I was surprised to see a blind person working with such an important work of giving right forms and dealing with money. Actually government has a scheme of providing jobs to handicapped people which sounds fine but giving forms and dealing with money job to a blind person? Well, he was doing fine. He had different kind of forms for different kind of licenses and other works and he had organized the forms in such a beautiful manner that he knew where what kind of forms were kept. I asked him to give a form for a learning license, they issue learning license first and after one month permanent license is issued, and asked him the price for it. He said Rs. 10 and I gave it to him and came out of the queue.

I was looking at the form and I noticed that print rate of the form was only Rs. 2. I went back to him asking why he charged me Rs. 10 instead of Rs.2 and he said that he gave me a wrong form by mistake. He asked my form back and as I returned him the form, he returned my money saying that form for driving license was already sold out and he did not have it any more. The commission guy I had met earlier showed up again saying that it is true that the print rate is only Rs. 2 but it is sold for Rs. 10. I did not have any other option than paying him Rs. 10.

So I offered him Rs. 10 and he just did not want to sell the form to me. Finally I asked my friend to go in the queue and get the form and this is how I got the form. We filled up the form and went back to another counter to deposit the fee. The counter was supposed to get closed at 2 PM and it was only 1.15 or something and the counter was already closed. I saw a fat lady sitting behind the counter glass and eating something. I asked her why the counter was closed only at 1.15 and she said that it was not 1.15 but it was 2.15. I told her that it was only 1.15 but she said yes, 1.15 but in my clock, it was 2.15 in her clock.

The guy standing behind me asked me to show her some money so I showed her a bill of Rs. 20 and she opened the counter and this is how I was able to deposit the fee. Now it was turn of a written exam but I was a little bit concerned about it because there is not traffic rule in practice in Varanasi and I was not very well aware of them. I saw other guys offering some money to the examiner and we decided to go for the exam first and then give money according to how exam would go.

Exam was not tough and I was confident that I would pass it. After the exam, I went to examiner and asked him to see I was pass or not and he asked me to come later. But then I said that I had not given any money to him and I wanted to make sure that I was pass otherwise I would give some money to him. He looked at my paper and said that I was pass. I think he was the only honest person I met at the RTO, honest in the sense that at least he told me the reality that I was pass rather than asking for a bribe by saying that I was fail. He asked me to come after three days to see the result.

I again went to the RTO after three days and saw the result and I had passed the exam. Now I was supposed to get my learning license. The person giving the license wanted Rs. 100 but I bargained and finally I ended up giving Rs. 50 and got my learning license. After two or three months, I went to the RTO again to get my permanent license. They put me in an interview. The interview was not tough at all. They just asked me my vehicle registration number and a few other basic questions. Actually they are supposed to put all the applicants in a practical driving test but they just don’t do it.

After the interview, they asked me to come after a week to collect my license. I went to the office again after a week and had to bribe an officer again. The officer giving the license looked at my name and asked if I was a Bramhin and I said yes and then he said that he was also a Bramhin and in fact he lived closed to my home but we did not know each other. He asked for a bribe of Rs. 150 but I did not want to give this much. I started bargaining by saying that I was a student but he did not want to hear anything.

He said something really interesting that he charges Rs. 200 to other people but since I was a Bramhin, same caste as him, he was charging only Rs. 150 to me but I had also decided that I would not him Rs. 150 for sure. We talked for a while and I finally I gave him Rs. 75 and said that this is all I had. He took this money and gave my license but asked me to not tell anyone that I had given only Rs. 75 as rate for others is different. I am happy that I have a license but I still think about that blind man, that fat lady and that crazy Bramhin guy who gave me discount only because I was also a Bramhin.

Sometimes I think that I should have given some money to my advocate and get my license at home but then I think that if I have to live in India then I must need to learn to bribe and that experience at RTO at least taught me how to buy a government officer in India. I always think that I will not bribe any government officer but when it comes to getting some work done, there is no hope at all and I bribe again and again. But I hope that technology will change something, maybe not in my life time but someday for sure.

Who actually gets married? A motorbike dowry story.

This question that has always been in my mind is who actually gets married- the bride and groom or their family? It is so common to hear people getting married but then there are few stories associated with these weddings that makes me confused about who actually got married- the bride and groom or the family. It was my cousin’s wedding few days ago and I also went to attend it. Everything seemed fine to me, actually I liked it because I got to see a village wedding which is obviously more traditional than weddings taking place in Indian cities nowadays.

But I heard some things about the wedding that shocked me completely. I am very much interested in this crazy concept of dowry so I asked my cousins about it like what dowry did the bride family have to give and one cousin told me a crazy story about the motorbike the bride’s family had to give as dowry. He said that when the bride’s family asked the groom about what motorbike would he like to take, the groom asked for the Bajaj motorbike called Platina because he liked it and the bride’s family bought this motorbike about two months before the wedding.

After buying the motorbike, the bride’s family informed my cousin’s family that they had bought a Bajaj Platina but my uncle did not like this bike. He liked a Hero Honda bike so he asked the bride’s family to return the Bajaj bike and buy a Hero Honda one. Since the bride’s family had already bought Bajaj Platina and had paid for it, it was hard for them to return this bike and get their cash back. So they said that they had already asked the groom what bike would he like to have and the groom had asked for a Bajaj Platina and that was the reason they bought it.

But my uncle said that they should have asked him instead of the groom. Actually the groom works in a city called Korbain M.P. which is like 30 hours of train ride from my village and my uncle said that since the groom lives far away and doesn’t need a bike for his work, he would not drive the bike, the bike would be used by my uncle. It was a big problem for the bride’s family to return the bike so they involved the bride in this matter. They asked the bride to talk with the brothers and sisters of the groom and tell them that she liked Bajaj better than Honda and that is why she had asked her father to buy Bajaj bike.

She talked with the brothers and sisters of the groom and told them about her choice and asked them to convey her message to her father-in-law but again my uncle did not entertain the bride. He said that this bike would not be used by the groom, it would be used by he himself so he wanted a bike of his choice. Finally the bride’s family paid some penalty and returned the Bajaj bike and bought a new Hero Honda one, which was of course neither the groom’s nor the bride’s choice; it was choice of my uncle.

The bride’s family lost something like Rs. 10,000. It was crazy to see that the groom and bride had no control over their wedding. What was the need to ask for a bike if it was not going to be used by either the groom or bride??? Who actually was getting married- the bride and groom or my uncle??? I saw my uncle driving the bike the very next day after the wedding. I don’t know when the bride will ride the bike her father had bought. After attending the wedding I came back to Varanasi, but again heard something that was just unbelievable.

The bride came to groom’s house after the wedding and then she was supposed to live with the groom. After ten days of wedding the groom went back to his work in Korba but the bride was still living at the groom’s village house with her in-laws. I asked my cousin about it and he said that it is village tradition for the bride to stay at her in-laws house for at least two years after the wedding. So now the groom is in Korba and the bride is living with her in-laws.

I am sure that the bride would have loved going to Korba with her husband and she could not because of this crazy culture. She just cooks the food, looks after her in-laws, cleans the dishes, clean the house… that’s all. She is still 19 year old and she needs to go to school and I am sure that she would have loved to continue her studies but… It would be easy for her to keep her studies continued if she was living with her husband in Korba because she would have fewer responsibilities there. But… I don’t know when these things will changeand women will have equal rights in India, but hope is always there…

Please go to the election booth

I know that a lot of people have decided that they will not vote this year in the elections because they are completely fedup with the government. In fact, I was also one of them but I recently came to know about something interesting. Even if I do not want to vote, I can still go to the election booth and tell the officer that I do not want to vote and they will write my name in a different register which is specially for the people who do not want to vote and this way nobody else would be able to vote in my name.

All the political parties have a list of the voters of their neighborhood and they always see the progress of people voting. What happens is that different political parties have their own booths near the voting place and they have a list of all the voters. People go to these booths and get a slip where they have their name, address and other information written which is required to vote. People cannot vote without having this slip so they go to their favorite party counter and get their slip so usually these people at these kinds of counters know who has voted and who not.

Finally one or two hours before the end of voting they find the names of the people who have not voted, make slips in those names and send their guy to vote in the names of other people. Sometimes people go to vote and find that somebody else has already voted in their name and once a vote is given, nobody can do anything because there is nothing to prove that somebody else voted for someone else. But since this new beautiful system has come up I think it will be a big relief for the people who do not want to vote.

I would tell to everyone who does not want to vote to go to the election booth and tell them that they do not want to vote. This way their vote will be secured and will not be misused. So use this system and enjoy elections.

Sex worker children rights rally

Children of sex workers at Durbar's officeChildren of sex workers at Durbar’s office

I participated in a rally organized by Durbar for sex workers children rights. This rally started from Durbar’s office at Sonagachi, the red light area. Seranna and I with the other crew members arrived at Durbar’s office at 6.30 evening time. This rally was supposed to start at 7.00. We were so excited. I saw hundreds of policemen wandering around the office. First of all I thought something bad had happened but in fact they were there to protect us. There were about 3000 people already present there, with most of them being children of sex workers. All of them were lined up and carrying some banners.�

Children carrying banners

Children carrying banners

There were a lot of hijras and transgenders also. There was a group of children of sex workers who were going to lead the rally with music and dance. I really liked this idea of having some music and dance also. The rally started around 7 o’clock and I think there were about 5000 people present by then. It was a huge rally. The rally started from Durbar’s office and passed through narrow alleys of Sonagachi, which is the biggest red light area of India. Seranna and I were in front cheering up with the children of sex workers.

sex workers hiding their face from camera

sex workers hiding their face from camera

Right after two-three minutes we arrived in the middle of the red light area.�I saw that there were sex workers everywhere- on the road, on the roof of the brothels, looking out of their windows… all of them were dressed very well but I could easily see that they were not happy and healthy. None of the sex workers wanted people to take their pics. They would turn their face away right after seeing the camera. I did not like it. It clearly means that they are too intimidated publicise their identities and it is only and only because of the way they are separated from the society. It was not something I was expecting.�

Sex workers children rights

I tried to look inside some of the brothels as well. I just could not believe what I saw there. The brothels were too dirty, just too much. There was not even any proper ventilation system for the houses. There were bottles of alcohol thrown everywhere. It was not something only about brothels, the whole neighborhood was terribly dirty. I saw many many people who looked like drug users and were physically and mentally sick. It was third world for me. I knew that Indian sex workers have a very bad life but I did not know that it was this bad. I had already seen some brothels in Varanasi and a few nearby districts but I never realized that our sex workers live in this terrible condition.

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Sex workers children rights

They are kept in the terrible conditions in the brothels, and have no ventilation, no proper food, no health care, can’t go out of the brothels and after all of this they can’t make good money. Sex work is extremely cheap in India. Some of the sex workers whom I had interviewed for the documentary had said that sometimes they charge Rs. 50 only per customer and they have to give half of it to the brothel owner. It was a terrible situation there. We distributed a lot of pamphlets to the sex workers which were about their and their children’s rights. I could not understand anything written on these pamphlets because everything was written in Bengali.

Sex workers rights

One thing that was very interesting to me was that a lot of children of sex workers were effeminate.� This whole group of the sex workers children who were doing cultural program and were leading the parade were either hijras or effeminate. Sometimes they would sing hijra songs as well. I have heard and few a sex workers and locals of Kolkata had told me that a lot of times the children of sex workers are also abused by the clients of their mother and I was wondering if this was the reason why they were so effeminate? I am not sure but it was not something I see often in my society- this huge number of hijras or effeminate people from one neighborhood.

Children of sex workers

Children of sex workers

A lot of locals of Kolkata told me that sometimes people go to brothels and contact the brothel owner and ask for a young kid and these cruel brothel owners bring the children of the sex workers who are sometimes only 6-7 years old. Usually it is not done in knowledge the mother of the child and even if they come to know about it, they just can’t do anything. Their children are forcibly made to have sex and this happens again and again- whenever there is a client asking for a young boy or girl. It was very sad to hear the way sex workers and their children are treated.�

Children of sex workers dancing

Children of sex workers dancing

A few people told me that since the kids of sex workers spend most of their time with their mother and do not get involved with any male and are abused often, it changes their lives and makes them effeminate. I do not know if this is true or not but it could be true also to some extent. Well, they were very nice with the dancing and music. Some of them were playing the drums also. After we had completed half of the way, a very famous hijra named Luxmi Narayan Tripathi joined us. She is very famous and represents hijras and transgenders of Asia.�

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Sex workers children

She was also full of energy and excited for the rally. She was jumping, clapping, dancing, shouting…it was so fun to see them. I loved being with them. I also danced with them, tried to repeat their Bengali songs which in fact I was not able to pronounce perfectly but I tried my best. I enjoyed most when they would sing Hindi song- hum honge kamyab (we will be successful). I also sang this song with them. It was really an amazing experience being with these little kids who were fighting for their rights. Finally we reached a big park where the parade was ended. Now different people were putting thoughts and addressing to the community people.�

Laxmi addressing to the community people

Laxmi addressing to the community people

A few sex workers, social activists and Laxmi addressed to the people present there. They promised to each other they will �keep fighting for their rights so long as they have even a drop of blood in their body. Now the rally was done and we had created a big traffic jam. I loved this rally, the kids of the sex workers and everything that happened in this rally. I am sure that I will go next year also to support them in their rally.

Interview with sex workers

We interviewed a few sex workers in Kolkata for the documentary and fortunately my job was to do interpretation between sex workers and Seranna so I talked to them personally. I noticed one thing was that most of the sex workers we talked to came in this profession after some kind of bad thing happened with them at some point of their lives. I talked to this one sex worker who was basically from Faizabad but now lives in Kolkata, who said that she had done a love marriage with a Muslim guy, who was not accepted by her family, so she had to leave her home and come to Kolkata.

After spending a few months in Kolkata she discovered that her husband was a drug user. She told him several times to quit drugs and get a job but he never wanted to do it. Finally she had a child but she did not have any money because her husband did not have a job and she could not ask her family to help her because she had already gone against her family by marrying a Muslim guy. Then she decided to leave the home and went to a brothel and became a sex worker.

She is happy now because she has a better life than her husband gave her. She says that now she is not dependent on anyone and is free to do whatever she wants and now she has developed good relations with her family as well. There was some problem in the beginning when her family came to know she had became a sex worker but now everything is Okay. Actually this sex worker was a program co-ordinator of Durbar (the sex worker’s organization) so she would often be on the news and when her neighbors back at her hometown saw her on TV talking about sex work, they started asking her parents about it.

Her parents also asked her to leave this profession but she had decided that she would never ever leave her job. She is very happy to be a sex worker and she dreams to be a sex worker again in her next life. When we asked about what would she like her child to do then she said that she want her child to go to school and get some job. But there is a big problem for sex workers getting their children admitted in the schools. Actually they do not have any residential proof because most of the sex workers in India are brought from either Nepal or Bangladesh.

Since they come from some other country, or even if they are from India, they do not have any residential proof because they usually change their residence quiet often or they work under some brothel owner who acts as a dictator. Usually they are not allowed to go out of the brothel area. Sometimes they go out to work at hotels but not everyone can go. Brothel owners send only those sex workers to hotels or somewhere else of the brothel who have spent few years at the brothels. Because if they have spent some time in this profession then they do not want to run away, or sometimes brothel owners send someone else with the sex workers to hotels.

One other big problem of the sex workers is the money that they make from their profession. Sex work in India is very cheap and sex workers do not have any social idnentity or security. Usually they charge Rs. 50-100 per client because sex work in India is very quick. Clients come, have sex for 5-10 minutes and then they leave. Sometimes they do not even see the face of the person they are having sex with. Sex workers want to hide their identity and clients also want to do the same thing. So this work is very hidden.

Sometimes sex workers work for an hour with one client and this is only time when they make something like Rs. 500 or so. But this doesnt happen often. Usually they have some regular client who is very friendly to them and want to spend more time, sometimes they do overnight booking as well but only with some speical clients. After work they are supposed to give half of their income to the brothel owner so they make something like Rs. 50 per clients. Since this money is nothing, they are seeing more than ten clients per day which is horrible. It makes them sick.

Because of this residential proof problem they can not open a bank account or go to the places where they ask for the identity proof. In India residential proof documents are often checked after the Mumbai bomb blast so these sex workers have really hard time nowadays. And if they are caught then the police send them to jail. Each and every sex worker talked about the Police. They said that the police raid the brothels sometimes and beat them, put them in jail, abuse them but the same police come the next day to have sex with them.

They said that the brothel owner gives some money to the local police station every month so that they do not raid the brothels but police still do it whenever there is some political pressure on them or when they want to make some money. A few sex workers said that once the police took them to the jail and had sex with them inside the jail. It was shocking to hear that how these law protectors break the laws. They said that sometimes the police call the children of the sex workers and have sex with them. It was disaster. I could not believe that anyone could do this.

We asked sex workers if they give blow job or doing message or some other services to their clients and most of them said straight away that they do not give blow job or do message. There was only woman who said that she gives blow job sometimes but only to some special clients. Blow job is something that nobody wants to talk abuot in India. I have also heard that Indian sex workers do not give blow job which sounds strange. I think they can make more money by doing this. I dont know for whatever reason people do not even talk about it. They say that it is English style of sex but I think it is very very old Indian style. Maybe we taught to British and they spread it all over the world.

One of the sex workers told me this story about when Durbar had just started working and wanted to give them basic writing and reading knowledge. Durbar wanted to have a space to start their classes so they asked people living around the brothels to rent them a room. They waited for two months, talked to almost everyone in that neighborhood to rent them a room but nobody did it. A lot of them came to Durbar asking why they wanted to educate sex workers. They said that if the sex workers are educated then they will not respect other people and they will start making their own decisions. Finally Durbar had to start these classes at their own office which was like one kilometers away from the brothels.

One other very interesting thing was that most of the sex workers have a regular customer who is something special for them. This customer is not only a customer for them, they are like their life partners. They support the kids of the sex workers. It is very hard for sex workers to get their children admitted in the school because they are supposed to write the name of the father of the child and bring them to school but it is impossible for them. So in this case sometimes this special customer helps and give his name as the father of the child.

We asked them questions regarding sexually transmitted diseases as well and to be honest nobody knew about anything except HIV. They did know what lube was. They said that even though they use condoms but sometimes they break off. When we asked them reason behind it all of them said that it was only because of low quality condoms but I think lube also helps a lot. I had also never ever seen lube before Lane showed me. I don’t know why it is not available in our market. They really need training and education but unfortunately government is not doing anything for them.

All of the sex workers said that sex work should be decriminalized which I also believe in. I think that sex work is the second oldest profession of the world, or maybe the first. I think either agriculture or sex work is the oldest profession and it should be legalized and decriminalized. They are also part of our society and they should also be respected in the society like other people. I think it will take a really long time for sex work to be legal in India because our politics is at its worse level now. If one part would do something for them then other parties would start pulling leg of the first party. But this organization is doing nice work and I hope to see change.

Comparing Countries Compassion

Laxmi and Seranna

Laxmi (a transgender) and Seranna

Seranna started her documentary calledComparingCountries CompassioninKolkata which is about sex work and sex workers in India. It is Seranna’s project which she will be doing in different countries but she wanted to start it from India. She has chosen me to help her organizing interviews and she wants to interview me also regarding my work with Sanjeevani Booti. She has hired camera crew from Delhi who don’t seem professional, especially the cameraman. He is crazy. He always fights with other crew members. Actually they all fight with each other in front of interviewee. Sometimes they start asking questions to the interviewee. Seranna was also upset sometimes but we did nothave any hope. This production company is big and is run by a award winning person for his direction but unfortunately he was not with us.

This documentary is about comparing laws in different countries regarding sex workers. I really liked this project and she has given me a very challenging job of giving ideas of direction and doing translation. I translated few interviews of sex workers. We interviewed a few sex workers, social activists, professors of university of Kolkata, transgender people, children of sex workers… it was awesome. We did a condom usage demonstration also and trained sex workers about how to keep themselves safe and how to make more money from their clients. This documentary will be a huge success for sure. I feel fortunate to be part of it.

Pending

I think it has become our compulsion to use the word “Pending” again and again. Maybe we use this word most in the whole world. We have most number of legal cases pending before courts in the whole world. People file a case and spend their lives but never get any result. Now people feel better settling the case on their own. I never want to go either to the police or to the court for any reason.

If I go to the police then I have to bribe them and if I go to court then I have to bribe and wait both until the judgement is given. And sometimes judges are also bribed and their judgement is not judgement. Once I filed a case against a computer shop from where I had bought a computer about eight years ago. I filed this case because he had given me wrong price. The same computer I had bought from him was worth Rs. 23,000 but he wanted to charge me 43,000.

I told him to either give my money back or take the computer back. He took the computer back and gave me two post dated bank cheques. When I went to the bank to get my money from his account, the bank clerk said that there was no money in his account. I informed the computer seller about it and he told me to go to the bank again after few days. I did it several times but never got any money.

Finally I decided to go to the court for it and filed a case. It took more than seven years and a lot of my personal time and lawyer’s fee and finally judgement was given in computer’s seller guy. I had made the computer guy write on stamp paper that he took my computer and had given post dated cheques, I had receipt of the computer, I had everything to prove that I was cheated but still judge gave judgement in favor of computer guy because he was bribed. So it took eight years and no judgement.

I had applied for a tour guide license two years ago but have not got it yet. The whole process is stuck in the several courts of India. First of all it took almost one year for government to see the paper and organize exam and then later old guys sued government because they don’t want new blood to come in this sector. Even though I have qualified the exam but Government has been giving temporary license which nobody likes at all, we need training and a permanent license. I don’t know when I will have the training and permanent license, but doesn’t seem like I will get it within next one year.

I applied for one other tour guide license which is issued by state government about two and a half years ago and same thing with this program as well. Government was sued by old guides and the case is still pending in the court. To be honest I had forgotten about it and I believe it must be same with everyone. We had to pay Rs. 500 with application which doesn’t seem to come back to us again. Maybe this exam will never ever be organized because we have not heard of any hearing of this case.

I applied for a registration for paying guest house before one and a half year but have not got it yet. They call me after ever fifteen-twenty days and tell the same thing that they are doing survey and will start issuing the license soon. Once they told me to apply again because they had lost my papers. It was not expensive to apply, but it again took at least few hours. I have been hosting guests at my place without having license. I just inform to the local intelligence unit but I will feel better if I have a license.

Good people and bad people look for jobs

The title of this post is upside down because I have noticed a few things where quality is thrown out and garbage is being collected by our people and government. First off I want to talk about my brother who is an Italian interpreter and works for a very big travel agency in India. He lives in Delhi and has been working as interpreter and escort with Italian tourists and researchers for the last two years. He doesn’t have a tour guide license but he has very good knowledge.

A lot of Italian travel agencies recommend him for their groups. He started working two years ago and his first group was of only two people. His last group consisted of sixty people. It means that he progressed rapidly. He has to hire a government-authorized tour guide in all the cities he goes to with his clients because non-licensed guys are not allowed to work. The guides that he hires are supposed to be quiet and let him work. They are hired just to protect him.

A lot of government authorized guides don’t like him anymore because he gets big groups, and those guides have to be satisfied with small groups. Last week he went to Jama Masjid in Delhi with his clients but he was stopped by the licensed tour guides at the entrance gate. They asked for his license but my brother did not have it, but he had a licensed guy with him. Government authorized guides asked this other licensed guy if he knew Italian. This other guide was a English speaking guide and did not know any Italian.

Government authorized guides told my brother that he could not go inside the Jama Masjid because neither did he have a license nor the licensed guy know Italian. Even though they are not authorized to check the license but they did it. All the guides have same license, it doesn’t not talk about any specific language. You just need to have a license and then you can work. But those government authorized guides wanted my brother to have an Italian speaking guide. I am sure this was all done to disturb him.

At the same time another group of my brother’s travel agency came at Jama Masjid and they had an Italian-speaking government guide. My brother sent his group with this Italian-speaking guide but he could not work. Same thing happened with him in Rajasthan also and again he had to find an Italian speaking government authorized tour guide. Finally he gave up and has stopped working now. He says that he will work with a few groups that had already propositioned his travel agency to send him with them and then maybe not work in the future.

He is not working this year. Now he has switched to operations. He never worked in operations but now it is his compulsion to work in this new department. He says that maybe the government guides will never let him work in the future therefore he needs to learn something new. I am not concerned about his future because he is very smart and can get a job very easily but I think about the politics in tourism industry. A guy who has very good knowledge and experience has been thrown out and the other guys who are outdated and don’t know anything are given work and support. UPSIDE DOWN.

Another story is about one of my relatives. He is a twenty-four year old guy who never wanted to go to school. He always wanted to be a criminal. He has been arrested by the police several times for several reasons. He went to school for a few years but never as a student. His father works at a Sanskrit university in Benares. He arranged 10th and 12th class certificates for his son by bribing some school in the state of Bihar. Later he arranged a graduation degree from his university. Now the son has a graduate degree without going to school ever.

His father got him admitted in a B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education) course somewhere in a university in Gujrat state. This was also done by bribing because the son never participated in any kind of admission test. The son still stays at home and is involved in the same kind of bad work that he has been doing for years but his record at the university is maintained properly. So after three years he will have a B.Ed. degree and will become a teacher. His father says that he can get a teacher’s job at some government school for his son by bribing government officers.

Last year I saw a news paper advertisement for peon job in the municipality of Benares. The requirements for this job were 8th class passed certificate and knowledge of bicycle driving because peons are supposed to visit the nearby areas and watch the illegal construction. But a lot of Masters and Ph.D degree holders had applied for this job. It shows that even Masters and Ph.D degree holders have no job here. Finally the municipality invited all the highly educated guys for the interview, and Masters and Ph.D degree holders got jobs as peon.

They said that since they were facing job problems, they decided to just start something. Now Ph.D degree holders will drive bicycles and watch the illegal construction and report it to the municipality. Their whole lives labor did not help them. I am sure they will be involved in lots of bribing because peons get very little money and usually they bear their expenses by getting bribe from the people who do illegal construction or do any kind of municipality-related work.

So a guy who never went to school will become a teacher in the future and the guys who have Pd.D degrees are working as peon in this municipality. I was wondering what my relative could teach to the students- how to loot people? or how to beat someone? And the guys who did research, did a lot of labor have the lowest job in the industry. UPSIDE DOWN.

Meeting advocate for tour guide lawsuit

I went to Delhi on the 9th to be part of the case that is going to be filed against the Ministry of Tourism for the Government of India for not the starting tour guide training program in 2008. This training was supposed to start from the 6th of October but could not because the Guide Association of Jaipur sued the government for organizing training in different way than their training. I had a lot of work to do in Delhi but I could not do anything except meeting the advocate because the train was delayed for three hours and the advocate was busy with someone else.

I was supposed to arrive in Delhi at 9 o’clock but I reached there around 12 o’clock. I had planned to get my laptop and camera checked at some store in Delhi, and get some photos of the hills of plastic around Delhi city but I could not do anything because of the delay of the train. I went to meet the advocate at the High court of Delhi. He was already busy with some very important person. I had to wait in his office for more than two hours. The advocate said that he was talking to the DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police).

The advocate said that there was some case against the DCP related to extra income beyond normal salary. I heard them talking that CBI (Central Bureau of Invistigation) was also involved in this case which means this DCP was too corrupt. A DCP gets around twenty thousand as salary, but all the DCP rank officers have very fancy cars, bungalow and a lot of other luxury items. How do we hope for a good system if the system makers are not systematic? If a DCP is corrupt then everyone working under him must also be corrupt because the bribe never goes directly to the upper officers, it always passes through the lower management people.

After waiting for two hours I finally met the advocate. I was surprised to see that a young, only 30-35 years old, High-court advocate knew nothing about computers. He was not even able to type properly. He took at least ten-fifteen minutes to type my name and address. He told me to type on his computer but I did not do it because I had enough time and because I wanted to see a High court advocate struggling with a computer. He printed the wrong paper three times. He would write my name but print someone else’s paper.

After spending one hour watching the advocate struggling with the computer my work was finally done. He told me to call him on the 22nd of this month to see the judgment of the court. He charged me Rs. 3000 as his fee. He had charged Rs. 2000 last time for the same kind of case so I don’t know why he charged me Rs. 1000 extra. It is worth giving three thousand if he can get me the permit. He said that this time he will appeal the court to order the Ministry of Tourism to provide a license which would be valid until they start the training program.

Last time permit was only valid for one month and I had to go to Delhi again and again to get it renewed. I hope this time they don’t do this. I walked all the way from High court to Cannaught place and took some time there just watching the modern people of modern India. I think now the time has come for the government to introduce some health-related subjects to all the students. I saw a lot of, lot of young fat people. I am sure it is neither from meat nor from ghee (butter). It is all impact of western culture.

People in modern cities of India like to have lots of fast food and soft drinks which is the prime cause of obesity. The percentage of literate persons is higher in big cities than small cities, but health of the people is still better in the old cities like Varanasi. I see a lot of people driving Mers and other luxury cars or the people who look very educated opening the window of their car and throwing rubbish on the road. I think we need a huge change in our education system.

I had planned to take some pics of dumped plastic near the railway track but could not do it because it was already so misty, and anyway I had already taken few photos morning time. I think I have to take pics in Varanasi. It was not very successful trip but neither do I regret I went to Delhi. At least I will get the license.

Another case against tour guide training

Now it seems like it will take another year to complete the guide training program. The guide association of Jaipur has sued the government again. They want the government to organize training exactly as it had been done with them. Their training consisted of classes for three and a half months and a orientation tour for fifteen days. This time the training is like forty-five days of classes, fifteen days of orientation tour and two months of research. I think this time training is better than the last one.

The guide association of Jaipur says that some candidates of this year program have submitted fake documents. They are asking the government to get each and every document checked through related office. I am sure they just want the training to be delayed as much as it could be. They don’t want new guides to work during the Commonwealth games 2010. About ten million tourists are supposed to come to India to watch the Commonwealth games and they don’t want anyone else to take benefit of it.

Since our training is postponed, the candidates of this year’s program are going to sue the government again for not starting training. I got a call from the advocate who is going to sue the government. He says that the government will issue temporary licenses to all the candidates who are supposed to get training this year. I will also go to Delhi to get the temporary license. I don’t know how long will it take to get the permanent license, but it is overwhelming now going to Delhi again and again and paying advocate’s fee.