Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Class is temporary, form is permanent. लिहावे व फॉर्मरुपी उरावे
No, I didn't get it wrong.
Contrary to what most people will smirk and conclude, this is NOT a post about defending Tendulkar,Dravid,Ganguly and any other cricketer of your choice around whom Mendis went around in circles, so to speak. It is not even a post about some permanent fixtures on the political scene, who are seen hobnobbing one step below the throne, regardless of who comes to power.
It is about the permanency of forms in our lives.
I always thought that I was firmly,happily, and permanently entrenched in what is commonly known, as the middle class. No more.
Depending on just who is itching to classify us for some unknown ulterior or decent motive, forms are today a permanent fixture in our lives.And one of the purposes of filling in these countless forms, seems to be to slot us into some type of class; lower, lower middle, middle, upper-middle, privileged,creamy layer, non-creamy layer, advantaged, disadvantaged, etc etc. Of course, no one can really make up their minds about the classification, and so we end up filling more forms.
The first form I personally filled up , that I can remember is the form to appear for my school certificate exam. Computers had not appeared on the scene and folks were not obsessed with codes and categories. Then came admission forms to college. Notice the singular usage of the noun. You went to the college you liked, fitted in with their criteria , and got admission, without being 134th in a line of 200 applicants , trying to protect themselves from rising rain waters while simultaneously seeking admission in 3 colleges.. Exams , of course , brought forth more forms to be filled, where the emphasis was on the items of learning rather than what kind of person was learning. When the results came, a single person was declared the topper. There were no conveniently defined classes like girls/boys/night school/ etc etc.
Ration card forms, and consequently the cards themselves, were actually at one time greatly hankered after, sometime after my teenage years. Intricacies of adding names, deleting names, changing addresses, all involved forms, which were suitably complicated with faded printing.
Passport and visa forms came next. Besides the usual stuff , they always want to know if you have fought with/murdered anyone, been convicted, sent to jail, sent tadi-paar, etc. Suppose it was true, did they really think I would advertise it in the affirmative to the whole world ? They also wanted to know some identification marks which you bore; like I am just wondering, if someone finds me fallen in a ditch on the roadside, will they check if I have a mole on the inner side of my little finger, to identify me?
In the olden days (60's and 70's), banks really cared about you. Today, special desks are strategically placed there to entrap people into filling forms for some credit cards being publicised by the bank. Unsuspecting customers with time on their hands, ladies with visions of spending time in Malls, are invited into a plastic life. Buy what you like, when you like, as much as you like, and then watch us have fun clobbering you with "interest".
The advent of what is euphemistically called IT got the election commission into a dedicated dither. Every citizen needed a card. Some more forms. Proofs. More people ended up filling forms than was correct. And a lot of people got election cards without being citizens, thanks to the flood of application forms, and bad checking. But no one has learned a lesson. Now individual states are talking about issuing citizen cards.
Welcome to form chaos.
The passing away of the old generations and the entry of the new into the "form"al world is even more chaotic. Transfer forms, Indemnity forms, Oaths, electronic clearing, dematerialisation, rematerialisation, and of course, the great new discovery, the form for acquiring the PAN card. Time has now come to apply for these cards at birth-- a baby's introduction to the world of forms. While some companies have standard paperwork for applying for lost securities, I recently came across one company, which kind of rubbed salt into the wounds by insisting that we get an FIR from the police. This is actually worse than filling forms.
While the RTO has its own methods of troubling everyone with its forms, what has really begun to bother me is that the Municipal folks are now contemplating loudly about having special forms, and consequently, cards, for bicycles. Please. Its difficult to visualise kids cycling to school, with licence plates, and overzealous constables whistling them down because half the plate has been knocked off by a passing motorcycle.
Some forms, treat us like we are middle class; monetary fees mentioned therein are something that do not cause you to faint.
Some forms treat us like we are wallowing at the bottom of crowd of illiterate goons; the forms are full of convenient phonetic spellings, and dire warnings and penalties ; makes you feel like the secretary of the goonda class.
Some forms display loftiness , mostly in their disdain for three digit currency amounts, and all 4 digit fee amounts and stuff are preceded by the word "only". These are those that think that the city starts at Nariman point and ends at Haji Ali.
So while I swing wildly between being the esteemed member of the lower middle class, the hoi-polloi, the feet-firmly-stuck-on-the-ground-a-la-fevicol middle class and the sophisticated plastic ("only ten thousand rs") upper class, what remains a constant is that I need to subject myself to filling forms, regardless of my life stage, and needs.
It doesnt matter whether you are Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, or simply anyone else who is doing badly. Just a little bit of loss of class.
Like I said earlier, class is temporary, folks, but form is permanent.........