Thursday, January 6, 2011

Science and the Arts

It's so cold, that it takes me time to type out my password, first with gloves, then without, no entry  though,since the electronic imagination notates the exactitude of my typing skills! Bruno Latour was at Delhi University but I could not go to hear him, because I had to stand in the passport queue that afternoon. The passport q is full of intelligent citizens who when asked simple questions at the desk, can never respond correctly. One woman when told to write the date on the receipt, said, idiotically, "What date? Date of birth?" "No! today's date!!" When the officer last week  told me to take out 25! I started looking for a fiver, and he said "Madame, idhar sikkae nahin chalte!" meaning, "We don't accept small coins!" 25 hundred was the fee that he was collecting, and giving me a receipt for. I was in the q for urgent passports because my visa for Paris and Berlin could not be stamped on my old passport which was valid for 20 years from 1999 to 2019. The Europeans only stamp on ten year validity passports. So that was why I was back in the Q. Latour talks of burearucracy and machinery in the same breath. What happens to people who become keys in the system, who open all the locks? Ordinary people call such individuals angels. Sometimes they are nondescript, sometimes they are charismatic and visible, but they exist. People who treat people as people, and not as things. I met quite a few such persons in the Passport office who tided the subjects who felt errors in the text were personal. I got my  passport!

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