On Saturday, I had to deal with India's Snail Mail System after ages. I do not remember when I last received a speed post. Yet I received one on the 27th and that too at my Indirapuram flat which is currently unoccupied. So it was only by chance that my friend went up to the house to show it to some potential buyers and he discovered a note stuck on the bolt.
The note stated that the Ghaziabad Post Office had received a Speed Post in my name and I would need to collect it from the Shipra Sun City Post Office the next day from 9:00 AM to 10:00AM. My friend went to the post office to collect the letter but the post office did not hand it over to him. They insisted that someone from the Malhotra family would need to collect it.
Everything about a Speed Post suggests that it is important. They are mostly used by government agencies as they are considered safer. And the term Speed Post also carries with itself the connotations of urgency. And an urgent letter from the Government is not something to be taken lightly.
So I found myself on my way to Indirapuram on a Saturday Morning amidst heavy rains and a looming threat of traffic jams. I had braced myself for the infamous bureaucracy of Indian Government Offices and approached the person at the desk humbly. The time was 1:45 PM, which is dangerously within the limits of the famous lunch hour and much after the time mentioned on the note. I was surprised to find the entire staff at their desks busy with their work.
I enquired about my speed post. The person sitting there told me that the speed post can only be collected from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM everyday since that is the time when the post man from Ghaziabad post office is available at Shipra Sun City post office. He carries all speed posts with him.
I asked whether the speedpost can be collected on following Monday. At this, he seemed to consider the situation for a while and then gave me a mobile number of the postman "Mr. Kaushal". He also advised me to call Mr. Kaushal immediately.
I made the call. The voice at the other end was a typical U.P. voice with a typical U.P. accent. When I asked him about the speed post, Mr. Kaushal asked me the date on which the notification for the speedpost had been placed on my door. I told him that it was the 27th. He enlightened me with the information that undelivered speed posts are sent back within 4 days. I said that this was the 4th day as it was the 31st. He corrected me and told me that it is the 5th day since the counting begins from the day that the post is received in the post office.
I was crestfallen and lost all hopes of ever knowing what the post was all about. After all, I had driven for over a couple of hours in an unfriendly weather to get here. Hopelessly, I asked him what were the options for me now. He took pity on me and asked me to wait while he checked whether the post had been sent back yet. So I held on to the phone with my fingers crossed while he looked for the in-demand post.
After half-a-minute, which seemed more like half-an-hour, he confirmed my name and address and, to my utter disbelief, informed me that he still had the speed post. And, miraculously, he was distributing letters just a couple of blocks away and I could collect the post from him. Within the next five minutes, I had the elusive, almost-missed, speedpost in my hands. And all of this happened with a lot of smiles and pleasantaries.
Though good luck had a huge part to play in this chain of events, I was not expecting things to be so hassle-free. I had never heard of helpful government employees. And it was such a pleasant surprize to find them so willing to go out of their ways to help me. They did not have to do it. As per their process, I had already missed the chance to collect my speedpost. Probably, this was one of the encounters with the new India. Looking forward to more...