Warning: This is the longest post I have ever written. This had to be, because it deals with 'The Government'. Anything Government in India has to be long drawn, tedious and frustrating experience. You walk the straight path, the Government machinery will ensure it will be the longest possible route.
Welcome to India where Government is there not to help people and solve their problems. A Humongous Government apparatus is in place only to harass and make things difficult for the ordinary citizen. But if you are a Bangladesh or Pakistan sponsored terror merchant, then we will make things very easy for you !
Part One : History and Her Story
1970 July 25: He was born in a sleepy town in south Karnataka at the base of Western Ghats.
1975 August 13: She was born in a general hospital in Kochi two months premature and spent the next two months in the incubator.
1997 June 9: They met for the first time in Kochi.
1997 June 27: They were engaged to marry soon.
1997 July 25: They went to watch 'Border' together, because she was a fan of Sunil Shetty. [The additional 'e' in his name came later].
1997 August 13: They crossed the border to watch 'Pardes' because he grew up on Subhash Ghai movies.
1997 September 3: They got married. End of Part One.
Part Two : Home Sweet Home
2000 August: They set up home in a rented house in suburbs of Kochi.
2003 August 22: They finally moved to their own home. Sweet Home !
A dozen years after they were married with an 11 years old daughter, they realized they had to have a marriage certificate. And thus began the story. The story of a Marriage Certificate !
Part Three : Concept of a Marriage Certificate
He had migrated from Karnataka and had a lot of problems getting a Voter Identity card and then a ration card. With his legendary laziness and very little patience for Government, he was governed by her perseverance. Nature always has a way to balance things. And then people !
It was told a Marriage Certificate [MC henceforth] is absolutely necessary to manage joint accounts, succession and insurance issues. It is also necessary to acquire many more documents, passports and sundries.
So an application was moved for the holy MC in August 2010. The Corporation Office demanded a huge pile of certificates to issue another certificate that will be necessary to apply for more certificates in future.
2010 September 15: Her father passed away, derailing the process of Mission MC for some time.
Part Four : The Documents for Documents
2011 January 3: The Mission was back on track. The need was very simple. The CO [Corporation Office] demanded 'some' documents as listed below.
01] The Marriage Photo
02] The Original Invitation Card
03] A Certificate from the Marriage Hall
04] A Certificate from a Councilor / MLA / MP
05] A Certificate from his Employer
06] A Copy of his Class 10 Certificate
07] A Copy of her Class 10 Certificate
08] A Copy of his Medical Registration Certificate.
09] A Copy of his Voter ID Card
10] A Copy of her Voter ID Card
11] Two Witnesses who are not blood relatives.
12] Four latest pass-port size photos of both
13] Most Important: You have to get ALL the duplicate documents attested by a Gazetted Officer.
Does the number 13 appear sinister ? This is not superstitious. But the process sure was Sinister in a Left dominated state.
Acquiring all these took some time; it always does in this country. It was told, all these documents should be produced in 'Duplicate' with the application form duly filled in Duplicate again.
Part Five : The 'D' Day or Document Day !
2011 February 2: And finally the 'D' Day was here.
"You have to come there to the Corporation Office once I am finished with initial work" said she "And you please show some patience and don't get into fights". He promised to try his best to stay sane.
10:45 AM: "I am at the office. People still waiting here" came her SMS. OK, he replied. Thanks to the Data services on Mobile phones, life is a lot easier.
11:15 AM: "You have to sign some more papers. Where can we meet ?" Text again. He replied, "Will meet you near Music World on way to IOC"
12:05 PM: "She told me, we have to present 3 application forms" said the harassed wife, "Not 2 as was told earlier". He asked her, "Didn't you ask how come the sudden change in rules ?". Wife is more prudent always, "See the need is ours and not theirs". He completed the forms and signed all forms before re-checking all documents again.
12:20 PM: He drove to IOC and came back by 1:30 PM.
1:30 PM: Finally he reached the Office near Marine Drive, Kochi.
Part Six : The Story In Between
12:30 PM: "You have to get copies of the Voter ID Cards of witnesses and get them attested" said the helpful Clerk. The witness himself asked, "But we are here, so what is the need to attest ?" The lady replied, "That is not my problem, Rules are Rules"
12:45 PM: They went to the Gazetted Officer known to them and got the required documents attested. He was a nice chap and didn't charge any money. May be Ms. Saving Grace had seen some Saving Grace.
1:00 PM: The witnesses left because they had no further role. Or thus they thought.
1:10 PM: Clerk: But you have to get three copies attested and not two. Three applications, so 3 copies.
1:20 PM: Gazetted Officer: What a tedious procedure ! Daughter, you must be hungry. Did you eat something ?
Thanks goodness, the country still has "A Few Good Men"
1:30 PM: He finally joined her at "The Office".
Part Seven : The End Game
Clerk: You have not attested the Invitation Card Copy and also the Councilor's letter.
He: But you are seeing the original, so what is the problem ? You too are authorized to attest. Why should we run around for all of this ? Why can't you write it because all the documents are there in front of you. ?
Clerk: That is not my job. You have to get it done. Rules are Rules.
He: Madam, can you tell us what all things we have to get attested ? My wife has been running around since morning. So if you can tell us what other things are lacking all at once, we'd be grateful. We will get everything according to 'Rules are Rules'. And if necessary, we will get 3 copies each of me and my wife and get them attested too.
Clerk: Tell your husband to control his language. We are here to 'Serve' you. We do things according to rules.
1:50 PM: Gazetted Officer: Wow Daughter, you are back as I had guessed. So this is your husband. I have known your wonderful father for several years but meeting your husband for the first time. How is he coping with this ? I believe this Doctor doesn't like to wait.
Reputations live past some great men and precede some ordinary people.
2:00 PM: The last bit of document attested. The gentleman left for lunch, but not before advising the couple to "Eat something, you people look hungry and tired"
2:10 PM: The Clerk has gone for lunch, said the office boy. He said, "Okay, let us go grab some lunch. Aren't you hungry ?". She refused, "No, we will wait. You don't know when they come and then go again. I want to see the end of this today". Perseverance wins over laziness.
2:45 PM: Clerk: You people are late by several months. So you have to produce an apology letter. That has to be drafted in Malayalam. Phew...
2:50: PM: "Oho, almost 14 years since marriage, what were you people doing all these years ?" asked the cheerful gentleman drafting their apology. "Collecting all the certificates needed to obtain this certificate and then getting them attested. It took us so long only because of that" was his reply. The friendly man never uttered a word after that.
Clerk: "Now everything is in order. But errr wait, where is the third copy of Invitation card ? I want it attested too".
He: "We are married for almost 14 years and we don't need this card any more. All those who had to be invited have been invited. So do you mind keeping this original ? We have been told the 'ORIGINAL' doesn't need attestation.".
Looking at the apparent smoke emanating from his nose and ears and even eyes, the Clerk agreed and said, "Okay, Okay. That will be fine. But if you need the original, you can't get this one back".
He: We have another dozen at home. Don't bother !
3:20 PM: Final touches over. Signatures verified. And the procedure is over.
Clerk: Right. It is over. Since your marriage was quite old, it will take one month to get the certificate. You will get intimation by post and then you can collect it.
He: Thanks for all the help ! Now do we have to get 'attested copies' of this receipt you have issued ?
Clerk: As you wish. Now you can get yourself attested if you desire so !
You can never win against the Government !