WARNING : Long Post
September 2020. I was travelling with my family to Uttrakhand from Delhi. It was Covid time but luckily interstate movement was allowed without the need of any e pass, as per the new MHA guidelines.
But Uttrakhand still required us to register on their portal and get an e pass, along with RT PCR test report.
We, like good citizens, duly did the registration, got an epass and test report done. And started our journey. However when we reached almost closer to our destination, a police booth stopped us and told us to travel back to 19 kms to get ourself registered at Golapar stadium (a covid centre), near Kathgodam, Haldwani.
Now this was shocking as we had no prior information that such type of centre is made or we have to make a visit. We told the police that we have all valid documents and was checked at Rudrapur Centre, entry point in the state , But they were firm you cannot move forward from this point until we get a written slip from Golapar Stadium that you have registered.
So anyone who is familiar knows that 19 kms driving back in mountains is a long journey. Anyway, we drove back and found no signboard even where that stadium was. But somehow , asking locals for direction, we reached the covid centre.
There what I witnessed was a big mismanagement.
They had three systems and only one system was in use. They had put up a mic at a distance of almost 4 ft for us to reply to the questions they will ask and then they will type it out in their computer. Then we were supposed to go to another line where they will give us a written slip, which was much needed for those police personnel , who stopped us midway.
Now at this centre , it was a long queue , reason was these officials were asking the same questions that we already filled on the website in order to get our e pass. Further these officials were so slow that it was taking almost 20-25 minutes to register one person and another 10 minutes to get that slip.
I stood there with my 5 year old, hubby was in line of registration. Three hours passed and finally it was the turn of my husband to register us.
But before this I did ask few officials there that what’s the point of registering us with the exact same information that we have already filled on the site. They said arrogantly, get in the line and maintain a distance.
Then I requested them to please switch on the other systems as queue was long and that way it might be evening by the time our turn will come. Visibly those men were upset with my suggestion. But I was firm because I had a small daughter who might get infection standing there after such a long journey, as her immunity is not very good when it comes to lung.
(My experience with men, in last 3 years, of Uttrakhand is not very nice. I am not judging all but I found them too egoistic and with patriarchal mind set where they can’t take any order or suggestion from women, and this was so visible at this covid centre )
So when my husband’s turn came, the man of the system stopped taking any more registration. I asked now what’s the issue? He said new team will come and shift is changing. I had already seen 5 new people had come and after sanitising and all that formalities, instead of taking up their job, they were standing, chatting, enjoying cold drink and samosas.
Then the person on system got busy in taking bulk of print outs on the only system which was functional.
That was too much for me and my patience was running out.
I objected and few people supported me too. But those men were really arrogant and deaf.
Finally after wasting one more hour, they started the registration. The man who was to take the details from my husband was visibly upset with my interference in their leisure time.
So while asking my husband all the necessary details, he asked one question, which was not asked to anyone prior. He asked my husband : ”is she your wife and what’s the proof”?
That was enough for me now and I lost it then and there.
I shouted at my loudest :”how does my marital status with someone will help your state to curb the covid virus”?
And then there was a scene…a big fight erupted between us….
imagine this…one woman shouting and screaming objecting the act of these rowdy officials and they all as a group hurling abuses on me. Literally abuses. (one example- tujhe jaisi 436 aurtein roz aati hain yahan aur koi kuch na bigaad paya humara.)
They clearly took advantage of their position in this vulnerable time of fear and chaos due to covid. They were kind of enjoying a picnic instead of being productive.
My daughter was silent all while when I was fighting with them, standing at a distance and quietly watching me. I am sure she must be thinking who is this woman, the roop she never saw before? 🙂
My hubby intervened and said to those men that talk to me and whatever she is saying is true. Few kind people joined and cross questioned those officials.
Now those men were furious, they said if this women is not sent out of this centre we will not issue any more slip and will close this centre now. So few people got scared and came running from the queue and asked me to leave so that they can get their slips.
Luckily during all this one person had made slip for my hubby and we came out.
I was fuming with anger and feeling helpless.
But then I decided to teach them a lesson. We sat in our car. Husband took the driving seat, daughter settled in the back seat and I took out my phone.
I called the covid centre helpline and registered a complaint against these officials. Then I called the DM office in Nainital and registered a complaint. The PA of DM suggested I also file complain at Haldwani centre. So I rang up the SDM of Haldwani. Damn he was more arrogant and rude. He started saying we can’t help and do not call him ever again.
Then I called back the DM office and said SDM is not cooperating. Then he said we will do something do not worry.
Finally when I reached home, my only target was to teach these people a lesson. I was full of anger and revenge. All swami jis teaching went for a toss .
In the evening, I called all the mainstream newspapers of Nainital and Haldwani and spoke with few city reporters that how this covid centre is misusing the resources of the small state and harassing common people under the name of covid registration. Luckily few people agreed to publish story on this.
Later that evening around 8:30 pm, I got a call from deputy SDM of Haldwani and he asked me patiently to narrate what all happened. When he heard that line of “tujh jaisi 436”, he apologised and said this is unfortunate and we will definitely take strict action against those officials. He asked me to share more details. I sent him the pics of people who misbehaved too.
I also wrote letter to CM and DM mentioning how the state is violating the MHA guidelines by asking for an e pass and how some corrupt officials are misusing resources of a small state which depends heavily on tourism, for their own benefit.
All this I did in my individual capacity as a common citizen and was feeling helpless.
Next morning I was still angry and upset. Seeing my condition finally my husband called few of his contacts, including someone very close to chief secretary and CM of the state and they said we will act.
Next day few local newspapers did publish my report and people from covid centre started contacting me that Madam please take back you complaint. We did not know you have big contacts. I paid no heed and said you wait and watch. I was fuming at the feudal mind set these people had.
Then the administration came in senses, and within two days order came that no e pass or certificate is required. And within 25 days the Golapar covid centre was dismantled.
Luckily I didn’t feel any proud or wining moment because I realised I can only do my best and results are not in my hand. (A practical tip i learnt from Radhanath Swami’s book)
But in this post I am going to tell what I went through and what all I learnt.
- I felt guilty that I could not maintain my calm in such an adverse situation, as I felt i disappointed Swami ji
- Ego can come anytime uninvited. When he said tujh jaisi 436, I told him look what this 437th will do to you. So it was a direct challenge to my ego. We have to be mindful of that.
- Children sense vibes. My daughter didn’t utter a single word at that time and till date she never asked me why I behaved that way.
- Subconsciously my daughter knows now that one can take stand if required, instead of following the crowd.
- I always wondered that one person can not bring change and they are just talks. But this incident made me realise we are limitless. We are the change. Only sincere efforts are required.
- Not every one will be corrupt in a system. That deputy SDM was a kind soul sent to me at an appropriate time and he supported me without any benefit. Nature arranges for you when you need it the most.
- Intention matters. My intention was not to bring down anyone individually but to tell them a system can’t work by harassing its own people and may be that’s why things moved accordingly.
- Do not be scared to raise your voice when you feel things are not right. My mom used to teach me. Galat karna nahi aur galat sehna nahi…
- Also I realised people may know things are wrong and would like to take a stand but they will not raise their voice beyond a point, out of fear. The common people at that centre were bright example of this.
- A loving and understanding partner is very necessary if you really want to enjoy the pure institution of marriage. He helped me next day whole heartedly.
What I learnt is that had I not taken that step many more would have suffered so in the process though I felt guilty and sad, I still feel Daag acche hain.
Daag acche hain is the heading because i did get angry and fought, which left a daag, mark on how i reacted but acche hain because it benefited people at large and also my daughter will subconsciously realise it’s okay to take a stand for right things.
those officials at the Centre
Featured image credit: view from my balcony in naukuchaital…by my Mobile phone 🙂