Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Not a Penny More

The guy came rolling our LPG in and thumped the bill in my hands. He was short, a little stout with a thick moustache, and doubly arrogant. I said aloud, " 360". He said "375". I was a little confused now. I looked at the bill in every angle possible, upside down, the behind, the front, up, down, everywhere. But there was no sign of the mighty 375.

I said, "The bill says Rs 360.55. Where is the 15 Rs you are talking about?" (Did they just attach VAT for cooking gas in the budget?) What was I missing?

The guy by now was getting irritated with me, he said, "Bill is 360, my money is 375." It was my turn to get miffed. "Doesn't the agency pay you? I am gonna give you 360 and nothing more. You came in your gas van, used the lift to haul yourself up. And there are wheels under our LPG holder. Nothing was any cause of inconvenience," I said, with all the control I could muster.

He got irritated again. "Its delivery charges."
"Says who? The bill doesn't say delivery charges: Rs 15."
He laughed, probably the first time in a million years. "Madam, 375 beku."

I walked to my room, got my wallet out. No cash. I checked my jeans I had 400 and some change. Gave him Rs 360.55, signed the bill. He was really miffed.

I said,"I am not giving you anything more. Please leave."

And he did.

This happened just twenty minutes back and I am so angry that I am shaking. When I told my dad he wanted extra, he said, "Don't fight with these people, what if they don't come? Thats' how its done, give them the money and be done with it."

Why? Isn't that corruption?

I refuse to pay. I refuse to pay auto guys one penny more than the meter and all my friends know that. They, and now B, say, "Its ok, lets go, otherwise they wont come. I'll pay the extra.."

Why? Isn't that corruption?

The point is, we are scared. Scared that we wont get an auto, we wont get a gas connection, we wont get admission, we wont get our passports, we wont get a phone connection, we wont get this, we wont get that. If we don't give, we wont get.

That's how it is. This is how the system works. Really? Who made the system?

So what do we do? Don't go down without a fight. Simple.

If you think it isn't, consider this: The people of Egypt ousted 30 years of terror in two weeks. For them, Mubarak has been around forever. They could have said, "It's all over the Middle East. This is how the system is, there's nothing you can do about it."

But they didn't. Because they decided to fight.

Giving the money is the easy way out. Of course, it happens everywhere. But that doesn't make it right. We need an Egypt against the auto guy, the gas fellow, Raja, petrol prices, food prices, inflation, government and everything that's wrong.

I just mailed Lok Ayukta. I am not giving a penny more.