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What’s in a name?!

August 11, 2017

What's in a name!Who is that guy who said, ‘what’s in a name?’ I would like him to help some of my colleagues with linking their PAN and Aadhaar.

I was named Govind, without any controversy in the family since both my grand-fathers were Govinds             (one was  I N Govinda Menon and the other P Govinda Menon). Later when it was time to join me in school they registered me as P R Govind, the initials standing for the maternal ‘tharavadu’ name and my father’s name. So I grew up, completed my schooling and graduation as P R Govind, while my classmates and teachers called me PRG mostly and also other unmentionable names, from time to time.

After graduation, I set out into the wild world, looking for a job amongst other things. And soon enough I became a medical representative.  The first thing that my senior, who was to induct me, did was to open a bank account for me. We used to receive tour advances from the company by DD twice a month. The first one with the salary and the other one around the 15th of the month. With my senior, who already had an account in the bank being the ‘introducer’, the opening of the bank account happened in no time. The name in the account was P R Govind, the same as in my appointment letter, my application for the job, my business card, my graduation certificate and my mark sheets.

By and by my income increased augmented with raises and incentives for completing budgets/targets and I needed to pay income tax. They said I needed to have a Permanent Account Number (PAN for short). The application for the PAN wouldn’t let me write my name as P R Govind. It wanted me to ‘expand’ the initials. And so I became Perumpulavil Ramachandran Govind on the PAN card. Even now I am not very clear about what first name, middle name or surname really means. For the Indian passport they had also asked for my given name not realizing that I am used to taking names and never to giving.  I used to be scared if I was filling up my name the correct way in all the official forms till I understood recently that nobody gave a damn.  The PAN became one of the important documents as proof of identity but if you look at my photograph in the PAN card, and even if you had a vivid imagination you wouldn’t be able to imagine it is me. Copies of it were given for getting personal loan, home loan vehicle loan, opening bank accounts, getting mobile connection and such. And soon enough half of India was having my details. Soon I was inundated with calls from customer care executives wanting to speak to Perumpulavil, the Perpumpulavil pronounced in myriad ways the mind can conjure up. One, even wanted to speak to Perumal, but that is another story fit for the next post (when it will see the light of day, only god can tell).

Everything was hunky-dory till the government found out there were more PAN than the national population. They decided to have the foolproof identity based on one’s finger prints and retinal scans. That was the foundation for Aadhaar.  First they said that to get any government subsidy, Aadhaar was necessary. Since I wasn’t getting any subsidy from the government I didn’t bother to apply for the same. At the work place I was hearing horror stories of how one had to spend the whole day waiting to be fingerprinted and have their retinae scanned. So I was happy that I had given a go by to all the trouble. By and by the government turned on the heat. They wanted the Aadhaar to be linked to the PAN, to the Bank accounts, Provident Fund accounts to the mobile numbers and to a host of other ridiculous things, except the voter’s card, as that might shrink everyone’s vote bank. There is a joke going around of a mother rushing into the hospital with her 5 year old son saying that he had swallowed the PAN card. The doctor after the initial investigation says, we will make him swallow the Aadhaar and only when both are linked can the surgery be done.

So I was arm twisted into visiting the enrolment center with my aged mother, aging wife and my younger son. The elder one is working in Bangalore. After numerous visits to the enrolment center, due to non-availability of forms, non-availability of the person taking the finger prints, non-availability of person scanning the retinae, non-availability of electric power and you will not believe it, due to the non-availability of toner in the printer, we managed to get the bio-metry done and also an acknowledgement to that effect. By that time I was preparing to chuck my job, close all bank accounts, throw my mobile phone away and to lead a life of an ascetic, as it seemed like there will be no normal life without Aadhaar. To the government’s credit they sent us our Aadhaar card in quick time. Never had my mug looked recognizable in all the various government issued cards. The name on my Aadhaar card was P R Govind.

Before I proceed further let me take a small detour which will take us to the art of form filling. The forms were a mile long. I spread them on our dining table and like a General on the war front strategizing his troop movements I noted down what all needs to be filled and where. And then with the dexterity of a rice carver sculpting a Taj Mahal on a grain of rice I proceeded to fill the tiny invisible boxes with my name and that of the family, their date of births, their age, their relation to me, their educational qualifications, their marital status. It would have taken about an hour and a half to complete. Not a single dot had gone over the boxes. I felt like how the General would have felt if he had won the war based on his strategies. Why am saying this? Recently my colleague was pressurized by our HR to give his Aadhaar number, because they were pressurized by the Provident Fund office. He had not enrolled because he is a frequent traveler and when he is not travelling he is planning for his next travel. He wanted me to accompany him, as he was not familiar with our city as he is familiar with the cities he travels to. So I went along. They gave him a form which he couldn’t fill as it was in Tamil. He gave me the form but I wasn’t able to fill them either. It would have been a quite a task without the dining table and sufficient light as I don’t wear spectacles even though I need them very badly. If you want to know the reason it is somewhere in the tomes of literature I have dished out on this blog. All you have to do is google ‘I don’t wear glasses satmuse’ and you will find the answer. For the rest who say ‘WTF’ read on. So with both of us not being able to fill up the form, an altruistic gentleman in the enrolment center directed us to a facilitator, sitting outside the Center, who would help us fill the form for a reasonable charge of 20 bucks, of which the altruistic gentleman would get a share. The facilitator asked for my colleagues name, mobile phone number, residential address and scribbled them across the form in random, not bothering  to filling them up in the boxes provided and asked my colleague to sign on the dotted lines. I was baffled as it took him just a couple of minutes to do this and to think that I had spent an hour and a half to do the same thing. So the next time you have to fill some official forms don’t dwell on the niceties, because frankly nobody gives a crap.

Coming back to the linking of my Aadhaar Number with my PAN, as was necessitated for filing of Income Tax returns. I filled in the Aadhaar number and PAN to the income tax website, but a message flashed that the name in the PAN database does not match with name on the Aadhaar. I know that because on the PAN it is Perumpulavil Ramachandran Govind and on the Aadhaar it is P R Govind. I was suggested to change the name in either one of the document to match with the other, knowing fully well that I cannot have initials on the PAN card. This means that I needed to change the Aadhaar to match the PAN. I was surely not going to go through all the trouble again. Instead I tried linking the Aadhaar with the PAN a couple of times, every day and was met with the same result. I kept on doing this for a week and one day the linking happened. No suggestion to change the name or anything. Even as I write this, there are people in my company who are desperately trying to link both the documents. I don’t know how mine happened. I don’t think it was because of Technical Intelligence of the website. I had a suspicion that it is the Artificial Intelligence that took pity on me after seeing my tireless efforts for almost a week. The recent shutting down by Facebook of the Artificial Bots, since they were communicating in their own language, only confirms my doubt.

The story doesn’t end here ladies and gentlemen. A couple of months after we got the Aadhaar, we had to shift to another house. No, it was not because my wife didn’t like the neighbours or because she couldn’t stand the landlady’s attitude, it was more concrete this time. Due to some structural defect in the building, there was more water inside the house than outside when it rained. After moving to the new house, the only proof of residence at the new place was the telephone bill provided by the BSNL. So I proceeded to apply for change of address online at the UIDAI website. After completing the online application for the whole family (to match the details provided in English with that of the regional language, Tamil in my case, was so interesting that I didn’t realize that the whole afternoon had passed. You should try it sometime), I proceeded to upload the scanned copy of the telephone bill. The uploading of the applications was accepted with a Unique Registration Number for each of the family member, with an advice to check on the status of the application the next day.  On the next day, it turned out that only my application had been accepted. The others’ were rejected due to incorrect Proof of Address (POA). The telephone bill was in my name. Though my son’s application stated him to be S/O P R Govind and my wife’s as W/O of P R Govind, their applications were rejected. I called up the customer care of the UIDAI and spoke to a gentle man about my problem. He heard me through and told me that the POA should be in the applicant’s name. I don’t know if it is possible to have a telephone bill with all the family members’ name incorporated in it.  I went to our bank to change the address in the joint account my wife and I have, so that we could use that as POA for my wife. The Manager said that he needs to have our Aadhaar for changing the address. I told him that we wanted the change the address so that we can change the address on our Aadhaar. He clearly didn’t understand what I was saying or he pretended not to. Luckily my son had an account in another bank and luckily again there was a sensible person who understood what I was saying and helped me with the change of address. So my son too could change the address on his Aadhaar. My wife’s still hangs in balance. I have to find another way out.

I have a few questions for which I need some answers. When such a major assignment as having an Unique Identity for its population is initiated, wouldn’t there be one single person on the planning committee who would be able to foresee the problems that might arise out of demographic differences? Wouldn’t there be one single soul who could point out that there are people in our country who do not have surnames and have initials instead? Similarly isn’t there one person with common sense, who can say one POA is enough for the entire family?  I read in the papers that a few Pakistanis had managed to get Aadhaar for something as less as Rs.100. I also read that somebody had hacked into the UIDAI website and stole details. Though the government denies that nothing was stolen, there is a fear of what we got ourselves into. Is it safe? Will privacy be ensured? Can our information be misused? Is privacy still our Fundamental Right

And when the entire population of the country is coerced into enrolling for the Aadhaar, I chanced upon a prominent member of the ruling party say he wouldn’t enroll himself. https://youtu.be/i3lV3VTn8KE   I would like to know if he has or has not. If he has not how did he file his Income tax returns? Or is he not required to?

By the way, if you know the guy who wrote ‘what’s in a name?, just drop me a line.

Video courtesy: NewsX

The NN1 stories – part 1

March 29, 2017

This is the initiative of Ashwathy and  I have only re-blogged her post. Actually I was one of them  who was bullied into, as she has mentioned in her post. Just kidding, I don’t think she is capable of bullying anyone  and even if she did, no one would take it seriously. For that matter I don’t think she is capable of being serious and be without her laughter even for a second. I have not met her but when I see her picture I can hear her laughter. I will let you into a secret, in spite of her reminder about half an hour before the scheduled time, I missed it and the picture credited to me is actually a little later than the scheduled time. It was fun doing the click and the write-up, as everything with Ashwathy is. Now go forth and multiply enjoy the post- Govind

Vaayadi Pennu

Part laziness, part procrastination, part how do I make a shorter post, and then I decided why not divide the picture tale post into two and post it on different days/two-three posts.

Some of you may remember thepicture story posts I was hosting last month, ababy ofNorm… A group of us decided, and the rest volunteered and a few were bullied into taking pictures at 6pm their time on the last Saturday of February. Here’s the first set fromGovind,Pixie,Akhila&Bikram.

You are free to cross post it, like, comment and share on your blogs and spread the happiness of 4 people at 4 different places clicking at an appointed time and writing a snippet about what they felt about their click.

PS. To read the stories in larger font, click on each picture. Enjoy. Thanks guys for participating !…

View original post 6 more words

The journey

March 5, 2017

journey

I have just 9 more months. To express myself to the world. A lot of my sisters have not been able to do it and have just passed into oblivion. It will not happen to me. My saviour has come. My knight in shining armour has arrived. To redeem me. He had a tough journey though. He had to swim upstream and get over a veritable fortress to get to me. And that he had to fight off many competitors on the way overwhelms me. He must be dead tired really. But now that he has met me, he will have time to recoup.  I need him. Only together can we make this journey.  It is going to be an arduous one, I am pretty sure.

We need to prepare ourselves for the ultimate destination. We need to develop our senses to attain our goal. What will I be at the end of the journey? I do not know, but I want to be strong and different. I hope to make a difference to the place I am going to. How will I be received? I hope I will made to feel wanted.

I hope we get a good place to rest during our journey. I hope we get enough food to undertake this travel. I am really excited. I am a little frightened as well. A little apprehensive whether I will be able to make it. 9 months is worth the wait to find out.  I hope everything will be just fine. Isn’t hope everything, wherever on earth I will be born.?

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

The Good Samaritan

March 20, 2016

Good Samaritan

I was sitting on a road-side shop and drinking coffee when I heard the loud noise. I knew right away that it was an accident. I am a regular at the coffee shop and ever so frequently accidents happen at that spot. It was on the other side of the road from where I was sitting. There is a super market right opposite the coffee shop and a delivery truck is always parked in front of it.  It obstructs vision of the vehicles coming from the side lane into the main road. I saw a car speed away, but was unable to note the registration. A man was lying sprawled on the road. His motorbike was lying a few feet away from him, its rear wheel still spinning.

I darted across the road, barely missing a car, the driver downed his window and shouted something nasty about my antecedents.A few people were gathered around him. Vehicles were slowing down to see what the crowd was about and then driving away. I lifted the motor bike and parked it close to the pavement and pocketed the key. The man was in his mid thirties . He was wearing a light blue shirt and a black trouser, which was torn from the knee down. His right leg was twisted in a impossible angle which only a broken bone can achieve. He was moaning loudly. The people standing around were scared to move him with his condition. I had to take control.  I asked them to leave in my sternest voice. Some of them left, relieved that they do not have to do anything. There were still some hangers-on.

‘Do you have an insurance?’ I asked him.

‘No’, he said grimacing in pain.

I asked him  his name and took out  his cell phone jutting from his pocket. I called the first number in the call log. It happened to be his friend. I told him about the accident and that I was taking him to a hospital, nearby. I called for an ambulance and took him to the hospital. They rolled him in on a wheel chair

I filled up the admission slip and paid the admission charges. The doctor in the Casualty had one look at his leg and said that a surgery would be required, I nodded and told him that his folks were on their way, He ordered for an X-Ray and some blood tests.I paid the fees and gave the receipts to a nurse so that the tests could be carried out.  I was waiting for the X-Ray and blood test results, when his phone rang. It was his friend wanting to know where I was. I turned around. There was an old couple and a couple of men scanning the room anxiously. I waved to them and they came to me. I handed over the phone and the motor bike keys  to them. The old couple turned to be his parents and the men his friends. I told them quickly of what happened. They thanked me profusely for my timely help.  The X-ray and the blood test results had come by then. His friends went to meet the doctor. .

I chatted up with his parents. He was a retired school teacher and she a house-wife. I asked him if they had  enough money for the treatment. They looked a little worried. They had put aside some money from his retirement benefits for their medical needs and hoped that it would be enough. The son had gotten a job only a few months back and now, this.  The friends   came back to where we were sitting. The doctor had said that an surgery was needed and that too immediately, as there were some broken fragments. They had to pay money for the surgery. I left them making calls to arrange for the money, not even waiting for the money I had paid for the admission and the tests.

It was night by the time I reached home. It had been a tiring day. I had a refreshing bath and was sitting with my drinks when the phone came. It was the doctor.

‘Your share has been transferred to your account’, he said

I thanked him.

I hope tomorrow would be as good as it was today.

Image courtesy: Internet

Paradise (re)Lost, Paradise (re)Regained

December 13, 2015

  • smell

I had lost the ability to smell because of my conditions. Nosey parkers who want to get into the reasons can find out from here. I was into homeopathy, even though scores of people, with whom I had more than a couple of minutes to interact or converse advised me to go for polypectomy, a surgical intervention to remove the offending parts. I resisted all such advises mainly because in most cases the polyps recur and there was a big chance that you might lose your smelling capacity for good (or bad). I was patient till my homeopath doctor Dr. Anjana Pradeep, with her small bottles of pills restored my sense of smelling partially. Then disaster struck, she had to move to Kochi. There was a break in treatment. She came to Chennai for 3 days in a month, but my schedule and hers did not match. The condition resurfaced for the worst.

My well wishers pulled out their daggers for polypectomy again. I parried as usual and when things got really bad, I went to meet the good doctor again. Obviously the medicines she gave me earlier did not work and she had to work her way again with her medicines and prayers for nearly 2 years till the polyps shrunk and I could, hold your breath, breathe properly and smell. You wouldn’t understand my joy of being able to smell petrol, deodorants, mint, onions being sautéed in coconut oil, oranges, chrysanthemums…… the list is endless.

But like with all good things, there is a flip side, the stink and stench of the city assaulted me with double the force. My ability to walk past overflowing garbage cans and overflowing sewers with a nonchalant smile has been shattered. I had  half a mind to name this post ‘Purgatory Lost and Purgatory regained’. But like many of the Chennaites, who realized that the inconveniences they faced for a few days of the unprecedented rains, was nothing compared to the misery of most others who had lost their houses, vehicles, relatives and pets, I count myself lucky.

I have to thank my doctor for her medicines and faith. My wife for constantly nagging me to get a treatment. My friends and family for suggesting various solutions ( I have a sneaking suspicion that they were doing this unable to bear the stink I was throwing around as I walked oblivious to my own body odours). I thank God for letting me smell nature again.

I will leave you with this video. It is a little gross and can be viewed only by those above 18. With this disclaimer  I can throw caution to the winds.

Just the way you are

October 24, 2015

Today was our wedding anniversary. Twenty fifth in fact. I have to thank my wife for travelling with me through the ups and downs in life in these 25 years. Especially for accepting me just the way I am. Thank you to all my family members,friends, some of them who were  more than family, for their wishes which has helped us come so far.

Song: Just the way you are- Billy Joel

The Placard

October 10, 2015

Placard

Everything had gone perfectly right, from the  take off to the landing. There was a small confusion at the immigration. There was a basket ball team which wanted to be cleared as a group. The ensuing confusion to allocate a separate counter for group clearance took some time for the line I was standing, to move. Other than that, there wasn’t a hitch. Even my baggage arrived on the carousel early, a miracle by itself. The basket ball team had also by that time collected their belongings and were just ahead of me at the exit. I was feeling elated. The next 3 days were going to hectic with business meetings. I was hoping the hotel where I had booked my stay was good. It was my first visit to this city. They had said that they would provide a complimentary pick up from the airport and that the driver would be waiting with a placard at the arrival gate.

As I came out of the terminal, I saw the  driver holding a hotel placard, with my name and flight details. He was standing behind a barricade at the arrival gate. There was a huge crowd waiting to receive people. I waved at him. He was looking somewhere, probably distracted by the reception the basket team was getting. I waved once more, but I was sure that he had not noticed. So I started moving towards the barricade. Just then, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see a tall good looking man in a blazer. He took my hand, welcomed me on behalf of the hotel and hoped that I would have a pleasant and fruitful stay in the city. He proceeded to take my baggage from me and started walking. I found it difficult to keep pace with the long strides that he was taking. We reached the car park. He deposited the baggages in the boot and opened the door for me. As I settled in the back seat, he went to the front  and sat beside the driver.

It was getting dark and the traffic was heavy. We inched our way  through the traffic.  There was total silence in the car except for the soft music that was coming from the music system. I relaxed, After maybe 20 or so minutes as I looked out, I saw that we were in some isolated side road. Just as I was wondering why we were in such a desolate place, as the hotel reservation had confirmed that the hotel was right on the airport road, my phone rang. I fished out my phone from my pocket and noticed that the call was from the hotel. ‘Where are you sir? The driver is waiting for you.’ the caller said.

It was then, as the man in the blazer turned, pointing a gun at me, that I realized I was being kidnapped.

PS: Recently I had booked a hotel accommodation for one of my customers and the hotel wanted to know what name to be put on the placard for the complimentary pick up, that sparked this story.

Pic courtesy: http://www.istock.com

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