As a Bengalurean, I feel entitled to moan about potholed roads, traffic snarls, water logging, power outages, to name a few everyday hassles! But this is not a gripe. It is the opposite, in fact.
Recently, my driving license was due for renewal. Earlier, we had always sought the help of a knowledgeable ex-colleague to help us navigate the RTO system. This time around, my husband and I decided to do it ourselves since, we reasoned, as retirees we are not pressured for time.
I looked up information online. The renewal process appeared to be manageable. So one afternoon, we did a recce of the RTO. We got details of the procedure, timings, fees etc. We also learnt that renewal applications could be submitted only a few days before the expiry of the current license. We had come one month too early!
However, we were able to get some of the preparatory work done. Outside the RTO complex, kiosks set up by small entrepreneurs had everything we needed. We bought the required forms, stamped envelope and got passport sized photographs done. One of the forms had to be filled in by a government doctor certifying that I continued to be fit to drive. But it was evening already and the nearest government clinic was now closed. Anyway, pleased with what we had achieved, we returned home.
When it was finally time to submit my application, we got off to a rather discouraging start. Our search for a government doctor proved a challenge, perhaps, because it was the Diwali holiday week. After visiting several government health centres, we eventually found one with a doctor in attendance. We got the required certification and reached the RTO just before noon.
At the information desk sat two ladies in uniforms. They smiled a greeting before checking my forms and pinning them together in order. One of them also explained the procedure and answered all our questions. From here, we went to get our documents verified, then to the cash counter to pay the fee of Rs 400. We were pleasantly surprised when people in the queue urged us to move ahead of them as we were seniors.
Now, we were ready for the approval signature of the assistant RTO. We saw a long line of people waiting outside his room. But again, being seniors, we were able to go right past all of them into the room. The officer looked up and asked us to take a seat. After attending to the people immediately in front of him, he called me. He was brisk but courteous. He went through my documents and noticed I had not pasted my photo on the form. He got one of his staff to do that for me, signed his approval and even sent his staff to accompany us to the appropriate room to get our digital photo taken. After this, we submitted the forms along with my current license. And that was it!
Thank you, RTO, for making the process comfortable and pleasant. Thank you even more for knocking out our cynicism about government services!