Strike of a tornado

One man, sitting in faraway Delhi to stir the officialdom into activity!

It’s 11 am on a Monday morning. As I enter the portals of a Central government organisation, the dark cavernous interiors loom forebodingly before me.

I enter with a sense of despondency, prepared to undergo the travails that I am so used to. 

The ill lit, long corridors, the decrepit furniture with the blackened plastic matting of the chairs dangling loosely, the torn upholstery of the reclining chairs, the frayed carpets of the reception area, the leaking faucet of the drinking water container whose cloudy innards proclaim their state of hygiene, a cracked plastic container beneath, the piles of files on the tables, the flickering tubelights and the signature betel leaf stains on the corners of the staircase and of course, the stink from the toilets that pervades the building. The call of official work sees to it that I, perforce, have to undergo this torture periodically, one that I just cannot wait to get away from. 

Thus I am ill prepared for the shock that awaits me. A tornado seems to have torn through the building and ripped everything apart. Discarded furniture, computer monitors, electrical fittings, and stacks of dusty, torn old files, all lie in a mountainous heap. To say that the entire office is in a state of disarray would be an understatement. ‘Is the office being shifted?’ is the first question that springs to mind. ‘Have I come to the right place?’ I ask myself. 

The entry pass in my hand reassures me. Everybody, from peon to officer, seems to be immersed in this sudden  burst of activity. The staff seem to be under some sort of spell, their faces betraying their palpable sense of tension as they go about their work with a steely look in their eyes, like a marathon runner with his sights set on the goal, like some alien beings tottering about in a stupor on an inhospitable planet. An inner voice tells me not to intrude upon this unbelievable scene, lest the magic bubble burst. I just linger about in the corridor, trying to peer into the fish tank where some fish seem to challenge science by surviving in water that is as dark and sedimented as the sewage collection centre of a megapolis. 

But not for long. Curiosity gets the better of discretion as I gingerly walk up to the nearest clerk. A smile, it is said is the first weapon against a potential adversary. Putting on my sweetest best, I wish him a ‘Good morning’ and cautiously send a feeler that it is a pleasant and calm day. A grunt and a nod signify that I am on the right track. 

Emboldened, I put forth the question ‘What’s happening?’ ‘PM’s instructions saar, office should be neat and clean. Instructions from Delhi HO saar.’ One man, sitting in faraway Delhi to stir the officialdom into activity! To teach them about housekeeping and good work environment. To crack the whip and get them moving. “Modiya maadi” they say in Kannada. How true!

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