Friday, January 13, 2012

Today’s Phuntsholing Town: A long romantic affair on the line


This winter Phuntsholing Town neither could please me nor appeal me. I found this place at its worse situation ever. The condition of roads, dust, frequent traffic jams, crowded streets with pedestrians, failure of public services, poor management of waste, gang affiliation among students, long queue in front of ATM counters and even longer queue with  frustrated people waiting to fill LPG Cylinders at various booths. Bitter feelings crept in my heart to see one of my favorite towns suffer. It was as if I am experiencing first hand breakup of a long romantic affair.
My acronym for ATM is "Any Time Misery" 
The first thing I did when i first arrived here was to collect my ATM card from the Bank of Bhutan (bazaar branch) which was processed in my brief visit in last summer vacation. The concern officer then had told me that the branch was running short of cards and I can only avail it after few weeks. I didn’t had that long time to wait so decided to collect it in the following winter vacation. So here I was holding my own ATM card with considerably a good Bank balance to pop out frequently from that metal box and to make believe others that I am some Lakhpati or Crorepati. The stylish tall lady in the chamber inside issued the ATM card and informed me that it will get activated only after 24 hrs.

In the following day I went to Samdrup Jongkhar to help my parents shift to samtse. It was my father’s 13th transfer in the span of 32 long years of dedicated service to the nation. Four days had passed in packing the stuffs.
Vehicles moving form SJ to P/Ling and G/Phu via Assam state.

On the fifth day, the last day to stay in the east, I was in need of some money so decided to finally use the ATM Card proudly. I flipped it few times between my fingers before entering the closed and secured room (where lots of money is kept inside and a curious small camera hung in one corner of the ceiling….funny part of it is that no matter where you stand inside you feel it is watching you always). To my disappointment there were no one outside or near by the ATM counter to showoff (I know you want to laugh your heart out….ok.. fine..do it..haha) but even more disappointment came when I inserted my card. ‘This card is not in the record’ read the thick screen in front of me.

Frustrated as I was I immediately called up the number posted on a piece of paper by the side of the screen to inquire. The officer on the other hand agreed to fix the problem. The system took another 24 hrs to mend the service. The opening ceremony of my ATM card was very good. I withdrew Ngultrum 40,000. Now here, i don’t want you to concentrate on the amount of money I withdrew or wonder how I spent it, the point I want to raise here is that the concern BOB officers (Phuntsholing BOB) who were accountable to activate my Card within 24 hrs of issue has shown Spectacular carelessness in their duty and has defamed the whole service.

That was in samdrup Jongkhar where not many came to use the ATM facility at once. Had this incident occurred here in phuntsholing it would have embarrassed me a lot. The day my card became active I was eagerly waiting to utilize the card where onlookers would be more in number. I got Excited because i was now back in Phuntsholing town after settling my parents in samtse.  And Phuntsholing town gave me the waited opportunity. But, I waited, waited and waited in a long queue which never seemed to get shorter. Finally when my turn came I was flashed with an instruction that stated ‘Host is busy….. Please visit to the nearest ATM counter!’ The waiting and the almost rude instruction dissipated my excitements. The nearest ATM counter was chained with even longer queue of people.

At times the ATM Counters do play some game. My sister once had to face it. She wanted to withdraw Nu: 3,000 from the ATM counter (T-Bank) situated in the Tashi Commercial Complex to do some purchase for her 18 months old baby girl. The screen kept on instructing ‘Please Try Again’. At her third attempt the transaction receipt still revealed that she has been debited with Nu: 0. She then left the counter for another one nearby.  On her way an alert message in her mobile beeped. It stated that Nu: 3,000 has been debited from her account. Thankfully when she checked her balance via mobile sms the balance was untouched.

Other services were also infected with the same disease and much disoriented. By Five o’clock in the morning people line up in front of LPG booths to exchange an empty cylinder with a filled one. 

….to be continued………..

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