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Vote's up

I voted for the first time yesterday, since I moved into Mumbai ten years back.

I had voted twice in Calcutta when I stayed there. It was fairly easy then as the political party cadres would ensure that your name was on the electoral list.

Conscientious Bengali that I am, I tried to get my name on the voters list a few years back. This was before Jaago Re, Lead India, Rock The Vote tried to get people to vote.

So I took Kainaz with me and went to a nearby school in 2006 to submit our voting forms. The place where they were taking the forms were chaotic. We found it tough to get through the officials as they were speaking in the local language of Marathi. We filled our forms and hoped for the best.

We didn't hear anything after that till I once got a call from an official for verifying my antecedents. The problem was that I was out of the country. Kainaz went and apparently the gentleman told her that we would need to go to the office once again.

Three years passed since then. Nothing happened.

Then the terror attacks of 2611 happened and Kainaz and I felt we must vote. This time we tried our luck with Jaago Re. But we found out that the site just gives you the forms and directs you where to go and that's it. It was not a place to fill forms unlike what we thought. The Jaagore site informed us that no new registrations were being taken. So we got back to our lives glumly.

Election day was preceded by a crescendo of public service ads asking people to vote. I even got an off day in my office because of the elections. But I thought I couldn't vote as I wasn't registered.

Come election day and Kainaz and I went to Candies for breakfast before she was to leave for work. I was feeling pretty sheepish as there were posters of John Abraham exhorting people to vote even at Candies.

What followed was straight out of Hans and Gretel. Kainaz left for work while I went to check on our house where we used to stay earlier.

I opened the door and I saw that there was a paper which was Kainaz's voter's slip. Apparently our application had worked after three years! She was on the list. And I was hoping that I would be too.

I excitedly called her on her cell and she turned back. We went to the school where we were supposed to vote.

There was a government official manning the station. There were quite a few folks trying to find their names.I must say he was being quite patient and even breaking into English when he realised that they couldn't speak Marathi.

He gave me a directory and said that the names were in alphabetical order. A quick scan and I found my name beside Kainaz's.

I could vote too!!!!

I can't begin to say how thrilled we were.

We stood in the queue for about 15 - 20 minutes and then our turn came. And we voted!

One can always argue that a single vote doesn't make a difference, that we have to choose between political parties who don't have much to say for themselves, we could say that the middle class vote doesn't count ... but the fact is that we took a step in deciding our country's future, And our future. And felt great about it.

The registration process could have been easier and more transparent. I think we were just lucky to find out that we were registered. Or perhaps our keen desire to vote moved things. Or perhaps it was Mr More who called Kainaz in 2006 and promised that our names would be on the list. But seriously there must be better ways of tracking this - online forms, political cadres like in West Bengal?

I must say that the government folks who were running the show were doing a good and sincere job under hot and difficult conditions. In fact there was a gentleman inside the polling room who was trying to get more people inside the room so that we could all stand under the fan. He was quite friendly too.

It is thanks a to millions of such nameless people quietly doing their job that the great Indian democratic process is alive and kicking.
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