When God created the world and all that is in it, he must thought, lets not make the world a boring place and so he decided that different countries and people would have unique qualities. Over time the countries and their peoples came to symbolise these unique qualities – The Germans precision and discipline, the Japanese hard work, the Chinese industriousness – And when he came to India, God was stumped and confused… Seeing his confusion, the people thought, lets make things more difficult for God to decide, and so they started to work in an illogical ways to confuse him. When God saw what was going on, he thought to himself, I am going to make this people confused, so that they will suffer from the chaos that will ensure; and so today we live for the actions of our past.
Last week as I was getting ready for my performances of my monologue Lying But Honestly, I was battling the wonderful battery of licences and taxes that one has to comply with before one can say boo on stage. The systems are made to not only make the artist suffer at the hands of lazy department staff, but on top of that one has to chase people, comply with their wishes and fill up forms in varying numbers. It was with this daunting task that I had to spend more time in government offices and police stations than I did rehearsing on stage.
For the uninitiated it goes like this – The first part of the marathon is to the local police station’s licencing department, where at the portals of the Casual Licence Office your patience is tested while giving in your forms and proofs of bookings. This office has people of all assortments walking around with the same hang dog expression because they have been forced to learn the art of patience and politeness in the face of pure and unadulterated apathy from the staff. Some are there for liquor licences, others with sawn down shotguns pointing dangerously in all directions for gun licences and a few for permissions to perform. Entry here is accepted provided you had had your pre-race warm up with a trip to your local court to get an affidavit made swearing everything but your sexuality, which you have to attach with your application. If you have a ticketed show then the referee at the Casual Licence Office will hold on to your form till you have clearance from the entertainment tax officer. So you start you jog to the other side of town to meet the other referees in the race who will hand you out another set of forms and a list of requirements and undertakings that you will have to comply with. This leg of the race entails you going to the bank to make a draft, paying advance entertainment tax on each ticket to the tax officer. After many calls and requests and movement of files between various officers and floors, you are lucky to get your entertainment tax officers “no objection certificate”[NOC], but if you think that is the end of the line think again! Armed with your NOC you have to get onto the next leg of the marathon; chasing the tax inspector! This is a test of stamina, as you have to chase him around town, through congested streets, to get his attention to the fact that he has to stamp and sign you tickets before you can sell them, and yes, your show is a few days away and you need to get things moving!!! Getting his lordship to put his royal seal can be painful and if you have any stamina left you stagger back to the Casual Licence Office with nothing casual about your demeanour to get your Casual certificate. Oh! Did I tell you, after all this you can start on another leg of the marathon – marketing and advertising your show…By the way have I talked about performance yet???