Friday, May 20, 2011

Mama's Boys

This post is especially for those Mama's boys who have troubled so many of my dear girlfriends. :D Now that I have said that, let me begin my story. A school friend had a very nice status update today on Facebook. She said that every morning her son tells her he has a surprise for her and picks flowers for her. She does not have the heart to refuse such a lovely gesture though she is allergic to those flowers and would rather sneeze than stop receiving flowers from her son.

As usual my honest self, I found that very sweet and replied saying: "Thats a big compliment from your son. You are his favorite girl atleast for now. Enjoy this phase." Then some guy who I do not know comments: "how can mamma not be the favorite person in a guys life.. inevitable...." Now that comment made my dull day a little more interesting and made me sit up and take notice of this dude.

Those who know me, know my love for such topics and debates. :D We would not be deluged with those umpteen Ekta Kapoor saas bahu sagas if only some men knew when and how to cut the umbilical cord. I say "some men" because I have met several men who are able to transition from Mama to girlfriend to wife or wives smoothly and are definitely not Mama's boys. So I retorted: "Well I don't know about Mama's boys, but I know for sure that I am my hubby's favorite. :P

I say that coz Joy and I have ensured that we do not involve or allow our family to intrude in our personal space whether it is something related to our home, the issue of kids et al. And so far they have given us that space so no reason to complain. This does not in any way take away from the fact that we love our parents. We adore them and will always be there for them but life goes on and in a marriage there is no space for a 3rd person especially a MIL. I say MIL coz most of the break-ups I see these days are because of interfering, domineering MILs and sometimes the sons also add to the wife's misery and do nothing to help.

There are different phases in life and some men have just not been able to make that transition smoothly from boyhood to manhood. As Shakespeare said:
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and entrances and each man plays many parts.
His acts being seven ages.
At first, the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school.
And then the lover, sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress' eyebrow."

This transition can be extremely difficult for some men who refuse to grow up and leave their Mama's lap.

A very dear friend of mine had a tough time when she got married and moved to another continent because her MIL was omni-present though she lived half-way across the world. The day began with the son calling her in the morning and having a chat and telling her his day's schedule. Then the MIL would give instructions to my friend over voice chat as to what vegetables and what brand of groceries to buy, and dictate what to cook for their daily meals. Since the webcam would be on, the MIL would even inspect the house and give general tips and gyaan about home management. They could never spend time together as a couple coz the son's schedule revolved around his chats with his Mom morning and evening before he left for work and after he returned from work. The son was suffering from a serious bout of Oedipus complex. Definitely should have married his Mom.

I know grown 30 plus men who are still fed by their Moms and Mommy still brings them a glass of milk like she did when the guy was young. Dude, grow up and stop acting like such an overgrown man-kid. Another friend was telling me how her MIL refuses to accept her presence in her son's life and considers her a witch. Whenever my friend visits her MIL in India, the MIL has often tried some tantrik stuff on her. The "saas" hides these beads and strange stuff below the mattresses whenever they are visiting so first thing my friend has to do after a long tiring flight is clean up the room and remove all those strange objects and then only can she relax. Well, will cover MILs in another post.

Coming back to the topic of Mama's boys, women do not mind if guys have a healthy relationship with their Mom. It is only when the son panders to his Mom's every wish, which includes even unreasonable ones, allows the Mom to dictate and gives her that space to intrude in their relationship, and elevates her to an unfair pedestal where she can do no wrong that the problem starts. After all no woman wants to be in a situation where she has to compete with the MIL every step of the way in a relationship.

Lastly, I had to add this bit. My friend's response on her status update to that comment was this: "Personally I dont mind passing my title on to someone else...I would worry if he is a mama's boy." :) Wish all Moms were as generous as this. The world would have been a nicer place for "bahus". :P

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tatkal Scam at Hyderabad RPO - Personal Experience

To the Ministry of External Affairs,

We have been trying to contact you through Speed Post, email and a networking site (Twitter) but since you prefer not to respond to our queries, thought will address all of you here. What I am going to describe is perhaps the most horrifying experience that citizens need to suffer to get a passport, a document I am entitled to in all respect. We have been trying to renew our passports through the Tatkal Scheme via the Hyderabad RPO but thanks to the efficiency of the system, even after a week we are nowhere.

Please explain to us what is the procedure at the Hyderabad RPO and why does it contradict with the information provided on the site. My friends have been asking me why I have not applied online as it seems to be a breeze in their respective cities. I don't know what to tell them. We did exactly what your Passport site tells us to do. We applied online, got an online token and was at the RPO in Hyderabad much before the stipulated time on Monday, 25 April only to find a huge queue for Tatkal applicants. On further enquiry, we found out that online tokens are not accepted in the Hyderabad RPO and people queue up for days to get a manual token.

We were approached by several local touts who claimed that they can get us past the cops into the hallowed precinct of the passport office for 4000 - 8000 rupees per person. Not willing to pay a bribe, we came back empty handed that day. The only other option was to stand in the queue so we went back at 2:00 AM the following night and waited for the passport gate to open at 9:30 AM. There were over 500 people in the queue and the passport office allows anywhere between 75 to 200 people everyday from the queue and the rest have to wait for their turn the next day even if they have to continue waiting for 48 hrs at a stretch. If they leave the queue and go home, they will again be relegated to the back of the queue so it is a hopeless situation. That day the office opened at 9:30 AM as usual for barely an hour and allowed around 50-60 people in before the cops came over at 10:30 smirking and happily telling the waiting crowd that the day's quota is over.

1. Why do I have to stand in a queue for such ridiculous hours in the open to get my own passport renewed?
2. Why are citizens harassed and treated like criminals at the passport office, both by officials and cops?
3. Why can't the passport office employ additional employees to meet the high volume of Tatkal applications?
4. Why should the local passport officer be given so much discretionary power that allows him/her to blatantly create processes that overlooks basic tenets of civilized dignity?
5. Why do they not allot dates so that people don’t have to wait for days for lady luck to strike and get an entry into your esteemed RPO?

Also, the RPO supposedly has to issue 300 tokens a day. However, after a 9 hour wait from 2 AM till 11 AM your office finally opens at 9:30 AM and closes at 10:30 AM allowing around 50-60 people in.

1. What are the number of tokens that should be issued and if the number is 300 tokens, what happens to the remaining tokens?
2. What are the actual working hours of the Hyderabad RPO when applications can be accepted? Is it only one hour?
3. How do you monitor the timings and productivity of the passport officials? Is there a register to keep track of the number of hours they put in and is there a minimum number of applications that they can each individually process?

According to this Times of India report, online tokens were stopped as the passport office website for Hyderabad was hacked into by agents. The article is attached here for your reference:

Now please let us know:
1. Why are agents and bureaucrats being given the chance to misuse the system?
2. Why is nothing being done to stop this nexus between agents and the officials inside?
3. Why should we pay a bribe for a passport that we are entitled to as citizens of this country?
4. In every other city, the Tatkal scheme seems to work. Why is this scheme so difficult for the people of the twin cities?
5. Why are citizens being harassed due to the misuse of the system by agents?

Would really appreciate if you can address this pathetic bureaucratic high handedness and mismanagement.

Another question my friends have been asking is why am I not submitting Tatkal application through e-Seva. Now Ministry of External Affairs, please explain why you do not accept Tatkal applications through e-Seva. Your site says "Tatkal applications must be submitted at the Regional Passport Office only after online registration." If there were more passport offices across Hyderabad or if you started accepting Tatkal applications in e-Seva centres, the load on the Hyderabad RPO would decrease and people would not have to wait for days in the queue. You can have a competent authority at all these centers to evaluate Tatkal applications.

So here are a few suggestions to increase efficiency:
1. Please have more employees in the Hyderabad RPO to process high volume of Tatkal applications.
2. Reintroduce a secure online slot allocation for entry into passport office.
3. Have separate queues for renewals.
4. Increase the application submission window to 4 hours or 1000 applications per day as opposed to whatever is the number now.
5. Open more passport offices across Andhra Pradesh and start accepting Tatkal applications across all e-Seva centres to reduce the load on Hyderabad RPO.

A citizen of India