"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." Martin Buber
At the end of June I'm off again, for three weeks at a university in South Korea and a visit to Kyoto, Japan, then in August we will be in Guatemala looking at one of the world's greatest challenges: how to grow a lot of food sustainably on small farms. Come along!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
India # 31 Bang, Stamp, Bang, Stamp, Bang Goes the Indian Legal System!
India 29 I meet the Indian Legal System
notorious for its bureaucracy but apart from having my boarding pass checked
four times in 50 yards I’ve not seen much of it until needing to get a U. S.
business document notarized a couple weeks back.
embassies and consulates can legitimate the signature of a U. S. citizen but,
amazingly, there is no consulate in India’s third largest city. So what to do?
A clever U.
S. lawyer says an Indian notary might suffice under an international convention
so the ACCION office tells me where to find one and warns me “don’t pay more
than 100 rupees.”So I walk into the
courtyard of an old British building and get picked up by a short, black-suited
KGB-type guy. He does not want to shake hands.
to have these papers notarized.”
for?”I tell him.
papers real estate.This page 500, this
page 500, this page 250, this page 250.”
“I was told
it cost l00 rupees.
“No! 1500 rupees or you go home.”
I don’t have
any choice so Black Suit and my papers head into a scene that surely could have
been played out a hundred years ago.
is several stories up in the darkness. There is only enough light to see a row
of ancient desks and ancient men before whom people like Black Suit come
bearing papers. Harry Potter would feel
at home in the gloom.
My advocate must
vie with others presenting urgent papers.They flip through pages, point to the places for signatures and present the
right stamp. Bang goes the stamp on the stamp pad, bang again,bang, bang, bang!
The notary seems to be in no hurry to move my
papers.Why am I in India?What is this for, he wants to know?But surely this will end well with 1500
rupees at stake and some share for the notary?Another acolyte catches his attention and I have time to notice a young
man and woman sitting to one side.They
have come to plead for the opportunity to emigrate and been put on hold.It would be a good guess they didn’t present
the required cash.
recaptures the notary’s attention.Stamp, stamp, stamp!Signatures.
Another stamp, more signatures, more banging. Then some gold paper is pealed
off a roll and affixed to the document.A seal is produced and crushed into the gold. Then a large book is
produced, the master registry. More stamping.
you I am acting on behalf of the Government of India.I have been doing this for a long time,” he
tells me, which I do not doubt.
I ask if I
can take his picture.No.Outside, I ask Black Suit for a picture.No.I
try for a picture of the courtyard where imagination tells me plea bargains are
being struck.No! scold two men in
uniform.I part with 1500 rupees and count
myself fortunate to have seen Indian bureaucracy and a minor bit of palm
greasing up close.I wouldn’t want to have
left India without it.