Dateline: July 7th, 9:20 AM
Lobby of the Ministry of Rural Development, Gate No. 6, Krishi Bhavan, New Delhi.
Got here too early for my 10 AM meeting since I could not accurately estimate the time it would take me to find the place.
Immediately upon entering, stopped by security. One man in civilian clothes, apparently the receptionist, rudely commanded me to wait. He did not display the least hint of common courtesy.
In the area which I suppose one can call the lobby, a set of moldy overstuffed broken chairs are scattered around haphazardly. Near the door, are piled a few wooden mail boxes bearing the names of different departments. They had seen better days, and one has its door dangling from one remaining hinge and the letters are spilling out of it. A man comes by and opens one of the mail boxes and selects a few letters, stuffs the rest in the box while spilling a few on the floor and walks away without bothering.
A man with a dirty wet mop comes and starts wiping the floor, distributing the muck and wetting the spilled letters.
It is hot and humid already. There are two desert coolers in the area. Both are rusted and broken down, the side panels are stacked on the top. The walls are dirty and one can see evidence that sometime in the past, a conduit for wiring running all along the area was embedded into the wall and then plastered over roughly. Looking up, I see the high ceiling is cobweb ridden. There is a cobweb-sweeping zhadu tied to a bamboo pole leaning against the wall in the lobby.
The security guys are dressed in dirty khaki uniforms, their bellies hanging over wide belts holding up their trousers. People are walking into the building.
Off to the left and to the right are grimy corridors dimly lit with florescent tube lights. Only some of the installed tube lights work. Wires hang out of missing ceiling tiles along the corridors like the spilled guts of a cyborg.
I sit here desperately seeking a small indication — a sign — of caring, of professionalism, of pride, of thought. I see none. The lobby is a place of unrelieved squalor. It is depressing to have to sit and observe it.
Dear Diary, who are the people who work here? Who are the people who are in charge of this place? What does this decay and total lack of care imply about the institution which this building houses? Can people who are incapable of taking care of their front office do much for development, rural or otherwise?