The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

Adventures, adventures – I love them so much. This weekend, I was treated to one such adventure (in two parts). Where, I hear you ask. At the wonderful police station in Mount Lavinia.

Saturday

Let’s start at the beginning. At precisely 9.15 a.m. on Saturday morning, I headed to the police station to give my finger prints (for those wonderful police certificates all foreign embassies desire).

The first point I noticed (and I do think about this whenever I enter a government building), was how easy it would be to bomb the place. As you enter, the sentry asks you to state your purpose and whatever your answer maybe, he waves you right through. At the main door, a rather bored looking police officer (rank unknown), again asks you to state your purpose. After glancing cursorily at your NIC, and writing the number down in a huge register, you’re allowed to enter.

At this point, my imagination saw me bombing the place down – why, because it could be done, of course! Seriously though, given the situation in this country right now, you’d think that a POLICE station would have better security.

Moving on. After entering a near-empty Administrative unit, and waiting for some 15 minutes, a kindly looking officer asked me what I was doing there. When I told him, he said that some big-shot (I can’t remember the designation) was there and ‘checking the books’, so I won’t be able to get my job done today. I was asked to come on Sunday.


Sunday

Re-read paragraphs 1 – 3 and you’ll have some idea on how the second visit began.

This time however, the Administrative unit was bustling with activity. Apparently, the whole of Mount Lavinia is trying to leave the country, because that’s how many people were there trying to get police clearance certificates.

Much like most public offices, queues were conspicuous by their absence. There were about 5 chairs and 01 bench for some 20 of us to sit on. We were told to fill a rather simple form, and then they transferred part of that info (and other info verbally collected) onto 2 IDENTICAL fingerprint forms. Apparently, they have heard of neither a photocopy machine, nor of carbonized paper. For each of us there, we filled out a white form, and then the police officer transferred that info manually onto two identical fingerprint forms. I’m repeating myself so that you get some idea of how ridiculous the whole thing is.

I watched while few of the people in front of me gave two sets of fingerprints onto the two identical forms. Then it all suddenly stopped. Why? Because the station ran out of those identical fingerprint forms! They realized this before the last form was filled. I mean, seriously! Doesn’t anyone keep a tab on the stationary? Some reordering, perhaps?

Now comes the next discovery – they don’t have a photocopy machine! At least that’s what I’m assuming, because they didn’t do the very simple task of photocopying the last clean forms left. Instead, they dispatched some little fellow to ‘bring’ extra forms. I don’t know if he went to the Dehiwala police station or the one in Ratmalana, but I know that we waited for some 30 minutes at least till he returned. All of us, cooling our heels under a tiny ceiling fan.

Finally, things got back on track, we repeated the same odious process, and it was finally done. Half a day wasted, just to get black inky goop all over my fingers.

What more can I say? This is how efficient our police stations are.

(To their credit though, they were all very polite)

Good luck to anybody else planning to make the same visit.

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Be true to your heart, and true to your conscience.

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