The new movers and shakers

Much before my retirement, the decision to relocate from Lutyen’s Delhi to God’s Own Country had been made.  

My driving licence issued in Delhi had to be transferred and reissued from Kerala. Having served in the government, I have always experienced a better strike rate when requests to a public official are made early in the day. Having reached the RTO office before it opened for operations, I waited for the staff to turn up.

Since I didn’t want to be seen like a sore thumb sticking out right at the entrance, I waited at a safe and discreet distance for the staff to settle down and then walked upto one of the persons at the counter. “I need to get my driving licence transferred and reissued at my address here.” He looked at the licence which I held out and said, “The simple way for this, sir, is to get a NOC from Delhi, furnish it to us and then apply for a Learner’s Licence after which you will be eligible to apply for a regular driving licence.”
It was all so simple that it left me wondering what the non-simple way would be!

I neither had any intention nor the will to go for the ‘simple way’. My ‘early venture’ philosophy had obviously gone astray. I now waited for the RTO. After he had settled down, I quietly slid into his room. This time, I decided to be a little more elaborate. I told the RTO that I was a retired Foreign Service Officer and also the purpose of my visit to his office.

A new creature can always be fascinating. The RTO had never come across anyone from my ilk. He told me, “Sir, you just write out an application for the change, attach a copy of your residence proof and furnish me with two photographs and you can have your licence collected tomorrow.”

Having got my Kerala licence, I realised I had another problem on hand. The licence was expiring and had to be renewed. I had, by now, realised that people like the nearby auto driver were the new movers and shakers in this part of the country. I asked an auto driver near my place if he could get the licence renewed for me.

“I know one consultant, sir, who will charge a nominal sum and be able to get you the new licence in about a week’s time.” “Oh, you mean an agent.” “No, sir, he is a consultant.” Discretion is the better part of valour. I quickly corrected myself and my ‘agent’ soon metamorphosed into his ‘consultant’. The auto driver has since become my go-to man for a whole lot of things. 

Before relocating, one of my friends in Delhi had warned me that the state could ‘surprise, shock and awe’. While the jury is not yet out on that, I did realise that relocation brought with it its own set of players and equations and it all boiled down to riding the waves like a surfer which is what I am trying to do as I go about finding my moorings in God’s Own Country.

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