Customary Duties

Of all the things that I was looking forward to, about returning back home, clearing my unaccompanied baggage from the Customs, was not one of them. This post from DR about people in uniform and thankless jobs, didn’t help settle the turmoil in my thoughtful upstairs.

Being extremely averse to be a party to either side of a bribe-transaction, frankly, I wasn’t looking forward to going to the Sahar Cargo Complex to clear my baggage. But then, my books…

There is something about us, in the way we generalise attitudes and reputation with a single experience. When we hear another similar experience, we almost make it a rule. It becomes convenient. A screen to use for mapping our thoughts. Not taking the effort to judge, analyse. Bad experiences, in any case, have the tendency to monopolise the limelight and hog the footage. I read often of corrupt uniformed personnel in the news, rarely have I heard good stories. And if they are reported, they are tucked away at the bottom-left on an even page towards the end of a newspaper.

Goodness, is default. Doesn’t attract the advertising rupees. Default, is not worth reporting.

So an anomaly becomes a sensation, sensations become perceptions and perceptions become beliefs. So much so, that a good deed is now an anomaly.

Most people are aware of their Fundamental Rights. How many know of their Fundamental Duties? Why is our vigour of defending our Fundamental Rights stronger than our willingness to exercise our Fundamental Duties?

With such a perception, hammered hard as mud, in my head, I went to collect my baggage today. Paperwork was in order and I did everything I was asked to. Not that it was a guarantee of any sorts, yet.

In the few hours I was there, I cleared my baggage with the help of extremely professional CHAs (Customs House Agents) — another condemned breed — without even the slightest hint of a bribe. Duty paid, papers signed, and I got all my books, amongst other things.


At first, I thought I would allow myself to be surprised; rejoice, for I would sleep well tonight, without a nagging feeling of an unscrupulous act that I shouldn’t have committed. And as I waited for forms and such things to travel between desks and approvals, I thought about the perceptions we have built for ourselves.

These perceptions are comfort triggers for us. They allow us to be complacent and resign to a situation — not to the reality — but the situation. The more we repeat this, the more we strengthen this false belief. These perceptions allow us to allow all the wrong that happens around us. They allow us, not to fight for what should be.

This applies to all of us, perhaps more so for uniformed personnel and office bearers. But, it is not as thankless a job as DR says it is.

There is, at least one person, who is thankful to a few folks in uniforms, who did the right thing. For not allowing a perception to become a reality.

Proud, even.


8 thoughts on “Customary Duties

  1. so true. but given that majority of us face problems when it comes to customs or any other government officials, who is to be blamed.
    nevertheless, we must, atleast, affirm our beliefs only by first hand exp and not by what we hear from others.
    just like u learnt!


  2. ==Nisha:
    I think the ‘blame’ factor is yet another reason why we are unable to see beyond perceptions. As long as we know what is right and do that, shouldn’t be a problem, no?


  3. Hmmm.. I have met both sides… people who have helped and did their job without expecting anything. and people who I have tried to give their due but they took the hand for the finger.. so my option is to treat the individual as he or she deserves.. I respect dignity of labor and if nothing else works.. I do it myself..


  4. Every time I pass by your blog I discover; a post I didn’t read, or I read but didn’t comment, a thought, a memory I have that resurfaces because of what you have written.

    I remember this post and I am very surprised that I didn’t say anything. May be at that time I didn’t have anything to say. I don’t remember.

    I am glad you had a good experience. I also agree that this is an area where one just cannot generalize. We all have our experiences.

    While I do feel that the common man has come to take a lot of luxuries we enjoy for granted, my real issue was that we don’t do our bit as educated conscientious citizens.


    • Our bit, I suppose is to refuse participation in illegal activities, at the bare minimum. This was an experience that reiterated that belief.

      I am glad you find stuff to read on this blog; given that I am yet to gain momentum!



  5. I agree . I too had a painless, well facilitated experience for my passport renewal and if you say that passport office is much under scrutiny and therefore better, I had a similar efficient experience at the RTO as well, when I went renew my driving licence. We need to have faith !


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