Certifiable Test Case

Confused employee wading through Nerd Nirvana

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Location: Hyderabad, AP, India

Program Manager Microsoft IT India

Monday, May 01, 2006

Minsara Kanna

The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has been computerised.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I must be slightly wrong in the head. (My friends, the ones who know me well have long since removed this from the realms of supposition and transferred to the realm of cold plain fact). But I assure you, gentle reader, that I am as sane as you, but have a desire to start from the very beginning.

So, the TNEB has been computerised.

This, of course meant that four sparkling new PC's found their way into the electricity board's office in Iyyapanthangal, where I reside. Now where is Iyyapanthangal? Have you heard of rural India, as in debates like rural v/s urban India? Iyyapanthangal is rural India. Iyyapanthangal is hoping someone will call it urban India but that is another story.

The PC's fascinated the simple village folk around the EB office. "Kampyuter vandhudchu..." (Computer's come) was the refrain heard from the old roadside paan chewer who makes an occupation of jeering at those who visit the EB office. "Engavana kattalam, kampyuter irruku.." (You can pay anywhere, there's a computer). The simple rustic folk that lend Iyyapanthangal its rural colour were awed and fascinated.

Till they went to pay their bills.

I was there, dear reader in the crowd in front of the EB office on the 15th of June, trying, like all good folk of this neighbourhood to pay my electricity bill.

Even as I walked toward the building, I knew something was wrong. The crowd was humongous. The EB in Iyyapanthangal has two queues. Both of them had overflown to the road adjacent to the EB building. I took my place at the fag end of the queue and waited.

After 15 minutes of reflection in which I had roamed the world mentally about thrice, something struck me as odd. Bringing my mind back to where my body was, I found the answer. In a quarter hour, the queue hadn't moved.

An officer then proceeded to come out of the building and exhorted everyone in chaste English to "come tomorrow" as the kampyuter was repair. Of course, I quote verbatim. Kampyuter in repair, come tomorrow.

The misguided officer had not counted upon the single minded dedication to duty of the rustic Iyyapanthangal folk. No one gave a damn for the "repair kampyuter". They had come to pay their bill, and by god they would pay their bill. A few opinions were flung around, saying that paper and pen was probably better.

The queue inched forward. No sorry, millimetered forward. For the first two hours I checked my watch every 15 minutes. Then, of course, I stopped checking. My watch, clearly insulted by my apparent apathy, promptly stopped working.

I spent the last 45 minutes at the front of the queue. Of course, when I say that, what probably appears in your mind is that I was standing in front of a long orderly line, and the official at the counter was getting ready to take my card and do whatever it is that officials in the eb do.

No, you're wrong. It was more like Tirupathi darshanam. 25 square inches were occupied by 25 people. The small square in the counter, meant for passing 1 card to the officer, was filled with 15 hands, each holding a card. The women were screaming at the men and other women, the men were screaming back at the women who screamed at them and supporting the women who were screamed at by the other women, and the babies, not yet aware of gender problems, were just screaming.

By some stroke of luck, the officer at the counter grasped the card in my hand. I smirked at all those around me. I , not they, after an agonising wait of 3 hrs 45 min., had given my card in.

And the officer returned it, saying "Card yerale, pa" (The card's not rising)

I must have looked bewildered, because she felt it necessary to elucidate "Kampyuter le yerale pa" (The card's not rising in the computer)

I must have now looked completely clueless, because she now made a vague irritating gesture in my hand. Immediately, those behind me in the "queue" managed to lift me right out of the throng, and push me into a side door. (Quite a feat, I weigh close on 70 kilos)

And then I understood. My card had not been entered into the database yet. Of course "yerale" should have given it away, but I am rather dumb.

Another official gazed at me, and proceeded to yethufy my card. Of course, typing at the rate of finding one key in 30 seconds is bound to reduce entry time. And how dare I suggest that this official use the number pad on the right of his keyboard. No, his job was to enter the details and he made quite a job of it.

But after yethufying my card, I was able to pay the bill in 5 minutes.

I hear my milkman is getting a computer. Oh God! I used to like my morning coffee so much!


Blogger foggy said...

great post... put it in GT.. its humorous to read

10:40 PM  
Blogger Vijay Chidambaram said...

Great Post! I like your style of humor a lot.. reminds me of wodehouse :P

9:36 PM  

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