My inner South Indian pronounces that ‘Dharmasankatam’, but these days, its pronunciation is being ignored.
Another thing that I have been trying to ignore and failing is the Dharam / Dharma in that phrase.
Four weeks ago, at the offices a ‘reliable’ Indian company, I was presented with a form. If I filled it in, and it then got signed by the VP, his SVP and some SSVP I would be issued a Photo ID card. This magic card would allow me to get into the buildings (and more importantly!) out of it.
I started filling in the form and came to a stop about 25 seconds later. I was being asked for my religion, caste, age, marital status, father’s name and various other pieces of information that have no business on an ID card. These guys aren’t even my employers, so they can’t pretend to need it for records. I looked up at the gentleman who had presented it to me and he looked embarrassed and said, fill in just the essentials. I did. My name, contact information and the blood group.
Two weeks later I was in the position of presenting said form with its myriad signatures to a security officer. I stood on the other side of a window, in a little corner of the not so little, excessively landscaped campus, perspiring and hoping we could get this done quickly so I could get into the airconditioning and ditch the laptop that seemed to weigh more with every passing second.
‘ Madam, aapne ye bhara nahin hai.’, said the gentleman. I looked at the columns he was pointing out – Father’s name, addresses, religion, age, marital status etc etc. I filled in some bits, put a hyphen on some other bits and returned it to him. One of the hyphen fields was religion.
‘Madam. Aapko ye bharna padega,’ he repeated.
‘Mujhe nahin bharna hai sir’ I said a little impatiently.
He look puzzled. Pulled out a file and leafed through the sheets. He turned it my way and pointed out, ‘Dekhiye madam. Sab bharte hain.’. And it was true. Page after page with an unsmiling passport photo, below which dutifully folks had written ‘hindu’
‘Agar mai vishwaas nahin karti, mujhe nahin bharna chahiye na.’ I tried logic on him.
At this point his irritation gave way to concern. “Aap Vishwaas nahin karti? Kisi bhi bhagvaan mein?”
“Nahin karti. Tho aap mujhse jhooth mat likhvaiye.”
He thought about this. “Nahin madam. Aisa nahin ho sakta. Aapko kuch tho likhna padega.”
At this point I gave up. I grabbed the form back and filled in Rastafarian because it was the weirdest thing that occurred to me. (I know. I could have put in atheist … but…)
He looked mollified that something had been filled in. “Aapko kal milega madam” .
I later found out that everyone else got it in 15 minutes. Clearly my Rastafarian inclinations needed checking out. 🙂