Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Address Proof!!!

Do you sometimes wonder, " How is life really like in India?". "How different is it really from kenya?" Well, I can try and give you the perspective of a foreigner living in what I guess is a middle class neighbourhood, probably even upper middle class if we gauge by the amount of house rent which by the way is not commensurate with the quality of the building and fixtures by our Kenyan standards. The rent is way up there with the kites while the quality of housing is down there with the ants... sorry termites that burrow deep down. Once you get over the initiall housing shock, you begin to enjoy a few of the amenities. Practically everything can be delivered to your house. This is because every house has an actuall physical address. Just quote the address and the person will find you. As a matter of fact, there is even no need to go meet someone at the airport if they are coming to your house. Just ask them to get into a taxi and give the address and voila, they will get there. This makes travelling easy because as long as you have the address of where you are going, the only thing you risk is being overcharged by the taxi or rickshaw guys because you have no idea how far the place is, otherwise, the question of getting lost is almost eliminated. The idea of having an address is nice and rosy but can be quite intimidating  for some of us who are not used to it. I usually think to myself, "this stranger actually knows where I live". " He/she can creep up on me any time of day and find me." " I cannot afford to double cross them etc etc because they will find me" Thats just me being paranoid, but just think about it, the shop attendant, milk man, cyber cafe guy, where you buy your sim card, the bank... all these people know where you live. The other day, I came home to the news, " there was a guy from the bank who came to confirm where you live"... I almost collapsed.The home is supposed to be an enclave of sorts where you retreat to after a hard days' work. However, with the requirement here for "ID proof, address proof" for any small transaction you do, its difficult to imagine how those guys who are always ducking their creditors survive in this place. You can't hide at home or at work. You can only leave home and go live with a relative or friend. This however has its own complications. I remember my Land Lord saying that even when he has a relative living with him for more than 2 weeks, he has to inform the local police station. I can only imagine the kind of documents that have to accompany that report, " ID proof?, Address proof?, Reason for being in Delhi?, Proof for that reason?, Employers name? Employer proof?, Fathers name? , yaani, there is no beating the system. Criminals must have a very tough time in this place.

On the upside, the fact that you have an address makes it easy to receive morning newspaper at your doorstep, daily packet milk delivered, groceries delivered if you feel too tired to go to the supermarket, practically anything you buy in any shop can be delivered to your house, usually at no extra charge. Internet connection is good and one is spoilt for choice. Internet at home via wifi is common and so cyber cafes are few and far between at least in this area. I have however travelled to other areas that seem to have many cyber cafes. Because of the address system, you don't have to open a post office box. Just send that letter and it will find me at home. Cooking gas has run out? Make a call and it will be delivered. Internet based companies even offer cash on delivery payment option because its so easy to find a place if you have the right address. So now, I am not sure whether having physical addresses is a good or bad idea. It makes life convenient but on the other hand can be quite disconcerting. I guess it will take some time getting used to it.

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