Postcard from Bangalore!

I noticed a red & white card lying next to my right shoe while waiting at the Madiwala checkpost traffic signal, on my way to the office. I bent over & picked it up. I wiped the wet dirt which had covered it. It was a card driving license (DL), and the name on the card read “Kavindra Rai”, above his father’s name and a very short one line address (the name of a road) in Darjeeling.

We all know how difficult it is (typically) to get a DL done in India, especially if you go through the right channels. Alternatively, you need to ‘spend’ quite some money to get it through the twisted channels. So if the DL didn’t reach him, Kavindra would have to go through some trouble to get his DL re-issued at Darjeeling, or worst-case he’d have to go through the full process again – reapply for a fresh license, get the learner’s license, use it for atleast some 60 days, then apply for the permanent license, pass the test (and/or bribe!) & get the DL. And, only I had the power to save him from all that trouble & expense. 😉

I suddenly felt important… And in the heat of the moment, I assigned myself a task: Trace “Kavindra Rai” & give him his DL back. 😐

The ‘project’ was kick-started…  (music!)

I launched my web-browser, and popped the query to Google. Yeah – “Mullah ki daud masjid tak.” I thought Google knew everyone on this planet… however, I was wrong. Either Kavindra was not from earth, or I had exceptionally high expectations from Google (which obviously works only as per data available to it, so nevermind!). Searching on a few social networking sites, on LinkedIn & even Skype contacts did not result in anything – so, it seemed Kavindra was probably not very net-savvy. But then isn’t everyone in hi-tech Bangalore a net-surfing online animal? 😉  Naah, theory = FALSE! Misconception about Bangaloreans.

I then ventured into the BSNL West Bengal website, navigated to Darjeeling & tried to search for a phone number registered to his dad, or to him. There were a few name matches, but no address matches. I did call up 2-3 people whose names matched, but they turned out to be “wrong numbers” (Yeah, they told me that, though I knew I had dialled the number correctly. :-)). Why is it never a “wrong caller” instead? Anyway, my numerous other tries with some combinations, resulted either in almost the same list of people, or else the nondescript, “No search results”.

Now I could think of only two final options to reach him, viz.:
1. Telegram. Courtesy: BSNL
2. Snail mail – (Yes!). Courtesy: India Post (Bhartiya Daak!)

I called up a couple of local BSNL offices, and got the know that the nearest telegram office was at the Koramangala BDA Complex. I visited the telegram office there, collected the form, filled it up… gave a deep thought… and didn’t send it.

Why didn’t I send it?: Well… telegrams are delivered by BSNL, the telephone guys. Would they really be able to find the person at the brief one-liner address in Darjeeling? The odds, I thought, were very low.

I was thinking – with such a brief address, this task could only be assigned to The Indian Postman. He was my final option too!

Yes, don’t raise your eyebrows yet. Haven’t you heard of the stories of the Indian postman delivering letters perfectly, even when the letters carried an address so short that would make the tiny space for the address on the postcard seem royal? Yes, I’ve experienced it myself. Letters addressed to my Panvel residence – with just my name on them alongwith the name of my society or my building, are enough to be delivered to my home without delays. Even though, I’m not famous (or infamous!)  in my approx. 7-8 lakh populated town and there’s also one other Nirav Doshi (a good friend!) in Panvel, but the letters are correctly delivered – courtesy: The Indian postman! 🙂

With the backing of my trust & logic, I expected the postman at Darjeeling would either already know the person addressed, or atleast put in some additional effort in tracing the person addressed.

I went ahead and bought 2 postcards for Re.1 (yeah, no more the 15 paise we’ve known it to cost… its costlier now!) 😀 . I scribbled a short message about the DL I’d found, my contact numbers & just requested the recipient to call me.

Quite a few pessimistic thoughts crossed my mind: what if Kavindra’s residence had changed and that was an old address? What if Kavindra had not informed his family about the lost DL and now could be rebuked because of my postcard? And even worse thoughts – What if Kavindra was into some illegal activities? What if he’d run away from home & was not in contact with his family?

Setting these thoughts aside, I optimistically dropped the postcard in the mailbox & started my wait for that phone call from Kavindra Rai or his family.

About 10 days after I’d mailed the postcard – I received a phone-call in the middle of a meeting. The caller identified himself as “Kavindra”. I immediately recognized him and exclaimed “Oh, Kavindra Rai! Is that you?” – He sure was the Kavindra Rai I’d been trying to reach for soo long. He said we could meet over the weekend and then he would collect the DL from me. I quickly agreed and hung-up, couldn’t keep the office meeting waiting for me for long.

After the meeting, I met up with a couple of friends at work and expressed the joy of accomplishing the task I’d set myself unto. My trust and logic was proven right. The 50 paise postcard had done its job in helping me in my task. And ofcourse there was the uncelebrated postman at Darjeeling, who delivered the postcard to its right recipient even with a bare-minimum address on it! 🙂

Kavindra & me met up on the next Sunday – and I gave him his DL. 🙂 It was also very kind of him to carry along a pack of Darjeeling Tea he got for me, as a token of his thanks. I asked him, how did he manage without the DL for about 3 weeks, to which he said he had a photocopy of the DL with him, so wasn’t so worried about it. Yeah, the RTO Officers @ Bangalore are very accomodating, eh?!

Nevertheless – Bhartiya Daak… Still rocking!~