July 3, 2013

Adventure at the RTA

Sometime during the month of May'13, I had moved to a new apartment in Whitefields, Hyderabad. It was a way too spacious 4BHK along with other homely cynics like myself. I had always wanted to get myself a ride, for it seemed inefficient to spend on those accursed autos. Moreover with my own ride, I would no longer have to restrict myself to the office cab timings. I could enjoy the luxury of work for extended hours... workaholic, much?

There are two parts to this story. One about my adventure to obtain the fabled Learner's License, and another quest to own a scooter.

Getting yourself ANY government document in India isn't that easy, especially when you are a nomad. Well, except for the Income Tax department, which, has a world class super easy system to ensure highest "performance". You can get your PAN card within the week and even file your IT returns online on a server that is never down. *clap*
But the RTA (Road Transport Authority) departments do not really want to engage themselves with the evil of "making life easier for the civilian". It's probably peer pressure. When a they see a fellow RTA colleague ruining a civilian's day, they believe that they too must take up the fad, else be mocked at the lunch table. How cute.

Anyway, for some reason the Andhra Pradesh RTA had gone online with their license slots bookings. Must have been the drunken act of an RTA employee in a fit of altruism. He/She deserves a cake with strawberries., unless he/she has diabetes, of course. I hope they do.

Well, that made booking a slot for my Learner's pretty easy (costs about 60Rs), though I kinda had to google to figure out what my "Mandal"  was, and I am still unsure if I put the right one up. Doesn't matter, got my slot anyway. Next up was a sub quest to gather all required papers to be dutiful presented to the troll officer a the designated RTA.

Finally, the day had come. I double checked my inventory. I pretty much had all the quest items... except for a legitimate address proof. Apparently the Rent agreement (attested by a Public notary) isn't enough proof. This was my mistake. I was unable to gauge the level of my opponent, the Troll Officer at the RTA. He firmly shooed me away, pointing at a pretty ancient piece of manuscript stuck with tape right next to his tiny window. This described a list of what could have been considered as a proof of address. None of which could be legally obtained by a person not living in his own house - a tenant. I believe this might be a conspiracy to ensure that people without their own houses have a hard time... or, maybe the folks at the RTA are just good people and are subtly encouraging you to get your own house.

But there was one list item that seemed "doable" - A bank statement or a copy of the Passbook of a Bank showing your address" - a ray of hope, indeed.

Cutting the long story, short. While I was a student at NIT, Warangal, I had to set up a mandatory account at the State Bank of Hyderabad, attached to the Institute. So, I got that account swiftly transferred to the nearest SBH (which was actually pretty near...). Got my address updated. By the way, they too wanted a proof of address, but unlike the RTA folks, they were satisfied with a simply HR letter from Nvidia stating the same. Obtained a new passbook and a scroll of Bank Statement, this time, mentioning my address. Phew!...

Booked another slot. Another try at this quest. The Troll was pretty annoyed that I had all my papers in order. This time around, I had emerged victorious with a duly attested Learner's License in hand. The test itself was a meagre - Answer 20 multiple choice questions in 10 minutes. Piece of cake...

Here's a mock test, if you ain't confident enough. Honestly, the test was just common sense.

Now, it was time to get myself a scooter. My evil steed... My 110cc Red Dullahan. This quest was far easier than I had thought. Went up to the nearest Honda Showroom, asked them what scooter was available. They eagerly presented a Red Dio, ready to sell off. Activas and Aviators had a waiting period of 45+ days... and I didn't want to wait. Bought myself that Dio...

Considering that the Showroom wanted the customers to have a smooth purchasing experience with them... they had their hands inside the RTA's pants. Got my registration done in a jiffy. All I had to do was present myself at the RTA and sign. The agent that was assigned to me handled all of the nasty paperwork...

This is an important lesson. The Indian System is pretty much corrupt. But... It also promotes employment. It has created a whole layer of middle men (agents) in between the Gov't and the Civilian. Fascinating, yet absolutely redundant and wasteful.