The freedom to drive

after something like 8 months of not being able to legally drive, I finally got back the freedom to drive!

Having lost my original driving licence and also my National Identity Card, at the beginning of this year, I have been forced to negotiate winding and often pot holed roads in order to avoid being stopped by the forces of law and order. There were times when actually stopped by them, I have come up with various creative excuses as to why I don’t have my licence with me at the time. But I finally decided enough was enough and went through the painful ordeal of getting a duplicate licence.

Why, you may ask did I wait for such a long time to get down to this? Simply put, it was because of the various horror stories I’ve heard about dealing with the many Government agencies involved in the process. There were also various theories on what was the best way to go about getting the licence too. While some people felt it was a simple process that involved going to the RMV in Colombo, others felt it was a much more complicated situation that involved me having to first get my NIC in order and then going all the way to Werahara and applying for the licence. Another twist to the story was that since I did not have a photocopy of the licence or the number, I would have to re-sit the examination from scratch! This in itself was enough to trigger my extremely sensitive procrastination instincts.

Finally, after personally calling the very helpful Government information hotline (1919), I was informed of the proper procedures and what was required from me. Of course whilst they were very prompt in giving me the information, it didn’t help that I had to go to 4 different locations in order to avail myself of the duplicate. A veritable pillar to post sort of situation!

The first point of contact with the Government machine was the neighbourhood Graama Seveka officer. This worthy gentleman made himself available to the general public in the morning hours on 3 days of the week. Nothing more! Since this involved taking a few hours off work, it led to more procrastination on my part. However, having gone to his office and stood in line for a good 1 hour, I was able to get the necessary seals and signatures on my forms and photos.

The next stop, which again had to be on another day as I had absolutely no idea how long it would take, was to visit the Divisional Secretariat in the area and get yet another rubber stamp imprint and signature. Not surprisingly, this too involved standing in a queue and pondering the cushy life of a government servant whilst being an unwitting eavesdropper to various insights into the lives of their families, their eating habits and even their toilet habits!

Having obtained the required approval, I then made my way to the neighbourhood police station in order to make a report that my original licence had been misplaced. This was an experience in itself. If ever you want to know what it feels like to be a criminal, just step in to the nearest police station, where they look at everyone equally! Here again, the now familiar waiting process was repeated. Of course, it was much more entertaining than the previous places as I had the privilege of listening to the travails a woman was having with an evil mother in law, the angst ridden wails of a mother whose son had eloped with the devil’s own daughter and the amazing rationale of a businessman who had forged a cheque!

However, I was forced to tear myself away from these dramatics by a mealy mouthed female police constable who seemed to think she was being extremely put upon by my request to make an entry. Having managed to muddle through the process of trying to make sense of the questions she was muttering under her breath and trying to translate what my job designation was in Sinhalese, the entry was finally finished and duly signed by me.

I then politely (always be polite at police stations), asked her when the copy could be collected, and was told that I would have to submit a written request for the same. Trying to make the process work a little quicker (naive person that i am), I promptly penned a request letter and handed it over to her. Her reaction was to look at it blankly and ask me what it was. When I explained it was the letter she had mentioned, she tossed it back to me saying that as I had written it in English, she could not understand what it said, and that I should give them a letter in Sinhalese!

Of course this meant my having to come back on yet another day. Having no other option, I did so in the evening of the following day, only to be told the person in charge of that was off for the day and I should come back the next day at a decent hour. And here was I thinking police stations ran a 24 Hrs operation! Having gone back for the 3rd time, I waited for the officer to finish having her breakfast and then had my letter snatched from me and chucked into a pile of letters practically overflowing from her desk. I was then told to come back in 3 days time to collect the copy.

This for once was a pleasant experience. Having got to the section, I was standing in front of the female constable and being treated like a piece of furniture when a young female SI asked me politely (she was actually being polite) what my issue was, promptly located the copy and released it to me herself. It sort of restored my faith in the police department.

I think the easiest part of the entire process was the RMV itself. I was directed to stand in a queue and hand over my documents to the counter. Simple right? It would have been, had it not been for the computer constantly crashing every 30 seconds or so! This had the adverse effect of putting the operator in a foul mood. No surprises as to who he took this anger out on ya? So having stood in line for well over an hour, with nothing for entertainment except the muttering of the computer operator and the varied smells of B/O, I was told my licence would be ready in the afternoon. Which it was! Albeit, half an hour later than I was told, but still it was ready!! Quite the example of efficiency.

So as of yesterday, I’m driving like a normal motorist would, not cringing every time I see a khaki uniform or a roadblock nor having to come up with ever more creative excuses to be delivered with an ingratiating smile!

P.S. This is probably the most boring post ever, so please feel free to boo very loudly in the comments section!!

8 Responses to “The freedom to drive”

  1. fact daily Says:

    The main thing i’m enjoying while reading your blog is the way you write, you are a really charismatic person and your posts are wonderful, keep it up!

  2. thekillromeoproject Says:

    Thanks so much, comments are always appreciated. especially kind ones like yours! 🙂

  3. cerno Says:

    Not boring at all! 🙂 Quite informative. You write well too and I’m not saying that simply because you have a knife welding avatar ;). The only thing I would ask is that you break up the really long 7th paragraph. Makes it easier to read 😀

    Your post tallies up with some of my own experience of getting a new NIC and what I’ve heard of other people’s experiences at police stations.

  4. thekillromeoproject Says:

    Thanks for the advice Cerno, Just took it and it definitely makes the post more readable!

  5. santhoshi Says:

    Happy Driving !:)
    Actually I had lost my ID a few years back but was lucky enough to get it back quickly because of someone working there. Being Tamil i am very paronoid about not having my ID on me.

  6. Tanya J. Says:

    Damn, I guess I won’t be driving your car anymore 😦

  7. themissingsandwich Says:

    Tanya you were only asked to drive it out of the lack of choice on most nights.

  8. realfantasy23 Says:

    Nope, not boring 🙂 , still reading, something about your writing> Its just makes me to read more and more, like Brandon’s 😀

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