I had finished writing a letter to one of my old friends who stayed at Ambala. After having enveloped it I reached for my diary and wrote his address and fixed the acknowledgement due for registration. After writing the destination Ambala and under lining it, I suddenly stopped. I was not remembering the pin code of Ambala. When I tried a bit more I realized that I did not know the required pin code.
Now, I know the importance of pin codes. The Government too, time to time advertised and insisted the people to always write the pin codes to facilitate sorting of the letters and make matters easy for the postal department. And I too, like any other straightforward person, always made it a point to write the code and thus help the postal department.
I, therefore, regarded not writing pin code as a cardinal sin.
I rang a few people. I was sure of their general knowledge. But they were not different than me. Few even furnished me the STD code of Ambala rather than the required pin code. Some had the audacity to ask me why I was posting a letter to Ambala. One fellow even asked me whether I needed pin of Ambala or Ambala Cantonment. It was a different thing that he knew none of them.
I decided to ring 'ask anything' service. But after they asked me to ask anything but the pin code of Ambala, I decided to pin my hopes on our very own; the always- misunderstood or not understood MTNL. After lot of dialing and redialing the enquiry number, a sweet voice welcomed me. I politely introduced my problem and myself. It did not matter to them who I was. And why should it? My politeness, it seemed, begot politeness.
The sweet one said, "We have stopped giving this sort of service." I did not understand the exact meaning. So I repeated my query in chaste vernacular. And I received a curt 'Sorry' in a vernacular tongue and tone. Patient as I was, I did not lose my temper but thanked the staff profusely for giving me a patient ear.
As I was about to finish thanking, the lady seemed to have been overwhelmed by my extra courteousness said,
"We used to give all sort of such information on phone a few months ago. But the latest policy of the Corporation got this facility removed."
"Why don't you come here to our office and I shall certainly help a gentleman like you in your problem."
She did not forget to add that my good telephone manners had impressed her and she found my voice most suitable for the job of a telephone operator.
'Please, I said, can you not give me the required pin code? If you can give it to me in your office then you certainly can give it on the telephone. I really do not understand.'
"We understand you sir, she said, "but you see we just can not go against the policy. That is why we also say that we always are misunderstood or not understood. You do not know our laws. They are very strict. One mistake on my part and I am gone. Actually we are very busy. It is only when a genuine gentleman like you is on the line that we talk to help you. Other wise ........."
She could have gone on and on but I heard her colleague reminding her that it was time for them to go to lunch. And the good lady had to cut off. But not before she had politely excused herself.
My thirty-eight inches chest suddenly added two and a half to it. But it did not help. I was back to square one. The finished envelope was mocking at me. When such dilemma occurs I have learnt to make myself float. Thanks to all the articles on yoga and the art of living and other life fundas. Such a floating state, many a times in past, has helped me in getting the solutions to even the hardest of problems. I closed my eyes, forgot the surroundings and took deep breaths. The trance must have lasted three to four minutes.
When I opened my eyes I saw my peon, with a glass of cold water.
"Is the envelope ready?" he asked. "And sir, I could not get the pin code. I asked so many people. Could you get it sir? Today is Saturday the post office will close early."
'Yes,' I said. Looking at him I got the Idea. Such a simple solution and I was roaming in the market. I patted my own back. 'I am a fool,' I said to him laughingly. And he nodded his head in the affirmative.
'Just go to the post office and give it to the clerk and he would tell you to affix the stamps... and then you can ask him the pin code of Ambala. How is the Idea?'
"I was to tell you that," he said naively.
After he had gone, I ordered for a coffee and started doing my work briskly. The simple idea should have struck me before. True, they say that simple things are hard to find. After half an hour he came back. I had kept my diary open to note down the goddamn pin code of Ambala.
'So what's it?' I asked him. "I did not get," he said.
'Why?' I asked in anger.
"The man at the counter said..."
'What?' "...that Ambala is a well-known city of India..."
'I know that?' I was almost screaming. ...
it, therefore, does not require any pin code."