Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Indian Bureaucracy At Its Finest

I want to do this short trek from Gangotri town to Gaumukh glacier (where the Ganges starts) on Oct 6-7. But you have to get a permit to do so. I called and they said "sure, just come to our office in Uttarkashi." My guesthouse operator here, Deependar, told me the same thing.

Of course, when I show up here on the 4th at 4:30pm, Deependar realizes I have to get to that office right quick. It closes at 5, and the next two days are a holiday. So I hoof it over there, to be told, by a kind but overworked and frazzled young lady, "Sorry, October 6th and 7th are full." "Really? There's no way?" "No, 6th and 7th are booked. Next day is the 8th." (8th-9th will not do; I must be in Dehradun on the morning of the 10th.)

I fill out the form anyway. I think they requested my passport number, father's name, blood type, bank account PIN, and name of first crush. When I get to the front of the line, I apologize profusely for keeping her past 5pm, explain my story, and then find out that I need a photocopy of my passport and visa. (the nearest photocopy machine is 3km away, and I am not making this up) She says "can you come tomorrow?" I say "oh, it's not a holiday tomorrow?" She says, "just come tomorrow, say, 10am?" I agree, reluctantly, because I'm thinking I'll get this permit for the 8th that'll be kind of useless anyway.

One last time, "So the 6th and the 7th are full?" Pause. She flips through her book, which is full of pages and pages of dates and names, eventually hitting the Oct 6 page, which is clearly full. Pause. "Well, come tomorrow and I think I can arrange."


  1. Will you now have to pay 'extra' for the permit on the 'holiday'?

  2. Sure glad the US Gov't doesn't operate that way
    At least she gave you an opening. Remember, rupees talk. And if it costs more, well, it's not like you'll be back to go glacier climbing soon. Good luck.

  3. Sounds like the Ohio BMV....
    except they wouldn't have been nice.
    Hope you got to go.

    And hope you buy shoes with some thicker soles soon- for the rocky paths..
    I liked your Stuff update. Very interesting!

  4. So, did you get to the glacier? That would be cool. :D

  5. Aha! Well, you see, I did get the permit. Did I get to the glacier? Did I have to bribe a guard? Did my feet hurt from walking on rocks in shoes that are advertised for having thin soles? Tune in tomorrow...

  6. Been following you post by post. Walk on, My Man, walk on. Loving all your smiley pics. Makin' your Mama happy. Love you.