Sify is the bane of my life right now. Every third day my Internet connection goes for a toss and when I pick up the phone to yell at my cablewallah, who has installed the broadband connection for me, I get such replies:"Madam aaj fibre cut gaya; madam aaj doosri fibre cut gaya; madam aaj sify ka building main kaam chal raha hain... matlab cement lag raha hain building main... matlab building geela hain to wire nahi lagega, electric shock milega kaam karne se..." He continues to take me for a ride like nobody's business.

When one of my American colleagues left after precisely a year of her coming to to work in India, her reason was that nothing works here. I didn't, of course, agree with her but my grouse is building up. My 'metre man', who comes for his routine checks every month, is the latest in the list of irritants. Each time he wears a hungry look. "Aap ko lagta nahi aap ka metre fast chal raha hain? Uska bhi kuch upai hain.. kuch sewa ka moka do, kuch cooperation do, kuch do aaj..." He wants money, he wants favours, he wants to hit the jackpot via me. Today it was, "garmi aa gayi aakhir, AC nahi lagana?... meri beti ki admission karado kahi acchi school main..."

Ninety per cent of the whole system here is corruption. I recall the police verification needed for my passport, the cop refused to budge from my place without getting dough for his 'chai pani'. When I told him that I had all the requisite papers and that I could report, he bluntly told me that in that case I would have to do the rounds of the passport office. And who wants to succumb to such an ordeal all over again? And boy, for all those wanting to get a marriage certificate in Delhi, think twice. Apart from the fact that you submit photographs, temple certificates and what not, they still insist on verifications -- from neighbours, the neighbourhood police and the police station closest to the temple where the marriage took place. And that means two rounds of police verification. AND if the groom happens to be a foreigner (as was the case with my sister), there's more trouble in store. Obviously, they expect a hefty sum. And you end up price haggling the way you would with a vegetable vendor.

We all know there are more semantic disguises to bribery everywhere. I turn to my friends with my grievances but I get "welcome to dilli" instead. I think I have a solution: legalise bribery. Maybe then, some of us will no longer be hit by the pangs of conscience. What say?

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