Part I – The Learner’s License

What I am going to write here in this post today is not exactly about how I had to bribe a public official. This is not about individual incident of bribery. This is an institution, well organized, good staffing, great customer support, prompt and perfect. Let me tell you about my friendly neighborhood Driving School. I have lived in this locality for some 17 years and most of the neighborhood sons and daughters, uncles and aunties have learnt driving from this same driving school.

The advantages of learning to drive from these schools are many. They have specially designed cars with double brakes and clutch. One is given to the learner of obvious reasons, and the other set of control is with the instructor. However, the best part is their package deal or the Family Combo offer. The Fees for learning ranges from Rs 1000 to 3000 for per 7 hours depending upon the Model and make of the car on which you want to be trained. For example if you want to be taught on a Maruti Alto with Power steering its Rs. 1100 but if you want to learn on a Zen its 1500 so on and so forth. One can either take 30 min class for 14 days or 60 min for 7 days. The hours and timings are futher flexible as per the learner’s convenience.

Family Combo is a special discount if two members of the same family is learning. Me and my sister did the learning together on an Alto so we paid RSI 900 + 900. This offer is not available if we don’t take the classes simultaneously. That means I can’t take my class in the morning and sister in the evening because then they have to come twice to the same house for picking up the student.

Now the Package deal, that is learning and obtaining of driving license together. Since obtaining a license is a tedious job, they offer to offer you a help and charge you Rs. 12oo for doing so. Once you’ve paid the amount you can close your eyes and drive and be rest assured you’d soon have a valid driving license, one of the most significant document for a valid proof of identity, though you can’t be assured about your car and limbs. Let me explain how the whole thing works.

Every Saturday the school arranges for 3-4 RTVs to take the students to the respective Local Transport Zonal Office. Me and Sister and all other such students who have paid them for the license were asked to reach the registered office of the driving school on Saturday 8.30 am. After reaching they made an entry in their register a square peice of paper with some number scribbled on it was given and we were asked us to take our seats in the RTVs. While jumping into the RTV at random the driver wanted to have a look at the parchi and instructed which RTV to sit in. Once all of us were seated in the RTV a guy came and gave us those pens with a tag which you hang around your neck, the pen marked with the School’s name and logo.

We started at around 9 am for the Zonal office which I realised was somewhere in Janak Puri. I didn’t even and still don’t know the address of the zonal office. That’s how relaxed you can be once you have entrusted the job to them. The Double storey building where the zonal office is situated is a very old dirty dingy one. A Lawyer’s hub most of the lawyers being property lawyers. The smell of bribery, under table transaction, suspicion was lingering all around. We were asked to form a Q in front of one room with shutters down even at 11 am. The room had no sign board nothing. We stood there for almost an hour finally the familiar face from the driving school appeared. In his hand he had the set of required documents (the form signed by the applicant, age proof and residence proof) which we had already submitted with the school. Names of those who didn’t sign in the proper places of the application form were being called out and instructed how to properly fill the form. Having done so, there was this main guy who stood at one of the higher steps in the staricase having all the applications in his hands, preparing for a speech while we all stood in the end corridor with eager eyes and alert ears.

“Sab log dhyan se suniye, abhi aapko Room No. *** mein jaana hai. Wahan aapko ek written test dena hoga. 20 questions hoga sab ke char answer honge, teen galat ek sahi. Aap wahan jaayenge hamara pen dikhayenge, Aapko question bilkul nahi padna hai, kisi bhi ek option pe tick maarna hai. I repeat, quetions padke time waste mat kariye aapke peeche aur bhi log honge isliye jaldi se pen dikhaiyee, 18 question pe tick maarke jaakar bus mein baith jayenge. Shaam ko hamare office se learner license collect kar lena.”

A thought quickly crossed my mind. What if all my random ticks fall in all the wrong places and they declare me pass…and then if ever lets say ever by chance an inspection happens…My God these guys are taking a freaking risk here. And I was right. No public official can take that big a risk of having a blatant proof of their glorious act of bribery.

The office was just like a small class room, with some chairs arranged in a row. An officer in the uniform was in his desk facing the chairs. Some 6-7 of us were called inside the room, an answer sheet and a laminated question paper was given to us. And we were categorically told by the authorities in khaki not to put any tick at all…only sign the answer sheet and leave the rest blank. Right in front of my eyes the examiner there got furious and tored off the answersheet of one of us because she had ticked all the wrong answers .

What he was doing is take the answersheet tick the correct answers and declare the candidate as pass. The legal procedure of obtaining a driving license is here

In the evening Dad went to the driving school and collected the learner’s license.

Part II – The Permenant License

For the permenant license you can contact them the driving school on any saturday after a period of one month from the date of granting learner license have passed. The travelling procedure is the same. This time we were made to stand in the open for almost an hour without any instruction. Finally we were all made to pass through a thin passage through an abondoned dhaba which opened up in a big lawn at the back of the office building. Again an Officer in Khaki wiht a register in hand came along. Only one question he asked

“agar aapka indicator kharab hai aur left turn karna hai to kaise indication denge”.

My God we were innovative. We came out with all possible sign language for the purpose.

“will take the right hand out and point it towards left over the top of the car”, said I.

“will just give an indication by the thumb like when asking for a lift.” said another.

Not a single person could answer it. Next came the driving test. The driving test was taken only from those who volunteered for it. The car was from the school, with double control. That main guy from the school sat with us in and controled the car and all of us were declared having passed the physical test. The photographs taken and the licenses we collected in the evening.

No Wonder we don’t find a single car in Delhi without a dent or a scractch.