Elections and Postmen

Today is Election Day in the US. This reminds me that I have a love-hate relationship with India Post. They seem to hate me and I certainly don’t love them.

It started innocently when I was in America in September. Since I knew I was going to be in Bangalore on the Election Day, I knew I needed an absentee ballot sent to our house in Bangalore, instead of the usual address in Germany. I filled out the absentee ballot request form and mailed it to the Ocean County Clerk’s office. The form said that they would mail the ballot 40 days before the election.

About a week and a half ago, my ballot had still not arrived and I started getting nervous. So I called them up and asked if there was a problem. The answer was:

We mailed it on October First.

I had them check the address. It was correct. The ballot never arrived. NEVER ARRIVED??? Luckily, they are experimenting with an email ballot this year. The clerk sent me the appropriate forms that I had to print out, fill in, scan and re-send back as a PDF. I also have to take the original that I had filled out and signed and physically mail that as confirmation. I had emailed my ballot the other day. Today, I went down to the post office to mail the confirmation (only the email version has to be delivered by 8PM EST today). The building has the kind of run down, we-don’t-need-no-stinking-computers flair that the FRO has, but there is a critical difference. Whereas the FRO has a mix of surly employees and foreigners who need favors from them, the post office only had the surly employees.

After I stood at the counter for a few minutes, the woman directly in front of me – who had been sorting mail and studiously ignoring me – finally acknowledged my presence; with a look of death that cursed my ancestors, my family, my descendants and my pocket lint for having the nerve to break her meditative mail-misrouting trance. I nicely handed her the envelope and told her that I needed to pay postage.

Do you want it resisted?

(no, I’d rather my mail not encounter resistance) Resistance? What’s that?

Do you want a confirmation of delivery?

(does registered mail even work internationally?) No, thank you.

38 rupees

(resistance? Do I need to hand scribble some Ganeshes on it for good measure?) Only 38 rupees? It’s going to America.

38 Rupees.

What I can’t capture in text is the gruff hostility to the universe that only government workers seem able to summon. She sullenly took my 38 rupees and gave me the stamps. I affixed them and handed her the envelope, said thank you and left.

I still wonder about that resistance option.


2 responses to “Elections and Postmen

  1. IBTS (Indian Bureaucratese Translation Service)

    She was asking you whether you wanted the letter “registered”.

    You should have said yes if you wanted the proof of delivery to the recipient.

    Yes, international mail can be registered.

  2. Pingback: Apologies to India Post « A Year In India

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