Yesterday I had a hilarious time at the Latehar Post Office. We had decided to send Nav Jivan calendars for the year 2012 to few of our friends abroad.
It turned out that the clerk at the post office did not have much of an idea on sending material abroad. In this part of the country, there are not many people who send stuff abroad save few who have relatives working in the Gulf.
The young chap knew of only two countries in the world - Gulf and America. And I had parcels for the US, UK, Australia and Singapore.
Most of the parcels were for UK. The funny thing was our guy could not spot UK in this drop down list of countries. So, I asked him to look for United Kingdom. There was no United Kingdom too in the drop down list. The next option was Britain. That option was also not available. After that we tried England. That also turned out to be a negative lead.
By now, we had got a small audience comprising of other staff and few customers. The clerk was quite new to the place and he could not afford to know less. The smart aleck suggested that maybe it comes under US - the America he was familiar with. I told him that the British may not agree for that. I promised him to call up few of my friends and find out an alternate name for United Kingdom.
So, he started off with parcels to the rest of the countries. The United States was the first to go in. He was totally silent. Next was one to Australia - he told me that he thought that was part of America. And to top it - he thought it was the cricket playing part of America. After that was a parcel for my brother at Singapore. The cost of booking the parcel to Singapore was naturally less that the US - he was shocked.
He told me how the government was quite partial to businessmen selling electronic items. I told him that I did not understand his logic. He told me that Singapore is the place from which cheap electronic items come. His logic was that because of the cheap electronic items - the postal charges was also cheap. And the best part was that he thought that Singapore was the electonics bazaar of America. He did not have a clue that Singapore was just a 4 hour flight from Kolkota whereas the US was almost half a day's travel by air.
Meanwhile all this while, I was scratching my grey cells for the alternate name for UK/United Kingdom/England/Britain. I could not come up with one. Then, I asked the clerk to get me a print out of the country drop down box. He called me inside his booth and asked me to go through the online list of countries. And there it was - GREAT BRITAIN. That was how it should be called.
So, all my friends from the UK. You are supposed to be known as friends from Great Britain while you are in India. Otherwise, people may think that you are from 'you know where'.
However, we had an entertaining time at the post office and did not realise how fast time flew. Of course, it was at the expense of the clerk's poor knowledge of geography.