chasing the vote

so a couple of days ago i saw this massive billboard on the way to work urging passers by to come in for taking their voting registration cards for the upcoming presidential elections. and of course i go to work and launch headlong into this soliloquoy about voting being a national responsibility and how often in my life as a student abroad i have seen election seasons and wished that i had the opportunity to vote one day and this being the day now, i think all of us ought to go together to obtain the voting registration cards. fighting voter apathy in my own small way. and i transcribe this same soliloquoy on paper and urge everyone to write their names in the space below and i attached a ballpoint pen to a string and affix all of this to the notice board in the hallway. and sure i get a half a dozen subscribers to this idea. and so finally today at half past ten i request for a van to take everyone to the voters registration station just up the road to get voter cards and be all set for the upcoming elections -whenever the higher ups work it out between themselves that the elections should be held. there are seven or eight of us in the white van speeding up the dusty road and avoiding the oncoming convoys of military vehicles whenever they pass by and perhaps seeming a little like kids on the way to that first dreaded morning going to the kindergarten. come the billboard, i point to the left and just behind it there is a makeshift structure with a gate and a guard who tells us that we cannot bring the vehicle inside and ought to step down for a search. this goes fine and we are on our way to one of the offices across the yard, when somebody asks to confirm whether this is indeed the voter registration station and the guard accompanying us looks aghast and tells us that we are in the office of a construction company which is repairing the road we were just travelling on, and why is it that they have set up shop right underneath the board that announces the place as a voter registration station, this he has no idea about and is getting increasingly annoyed with us. so we walk up the side street a little in the direction where logically the sign could be interpreted as pointing to, and another guard there tells us that yes, there were plans to set the station up here, but there has been a change of plans and so it has moved to a school near so and so ministry on so and so road -a ten minute drive. a quick standing meeting produces the consensus that since we have come this far, we would be damned to go back without voters cards, and besides everyone else in the office would laugh at us coming back half an hour later without cards. so off we go to chase after voter cards and thereby redemption. up and down, up and down, a couple of more convoys and terribel traffic and we are on location for the school. except that questioning the kids pouring out of the school produce the answer that this is the boys school and the voters registration place is actually set up in the girls school two steerts up. off we go. an old guard at this school comes and tells the driver not to honk during class hours and that secondly, the voter regisration booth was here until two months ago, and that now it has moved to another location about 5 minutes drive away and he is not sure where exactly but points in the general direction of a street, which we take and keep asking every other person for voters registration station -which produces expressions from amused to worried to nonchalant to are you freaking kidding me do i look like somebody who would have the slightest idea or concern about voting and the location of the voting registration station. and all along we are sitting in the back of the van like a braidy bunch with an increasingly exasperated driver who must surely be thinking why the heck do these useless shmucks get paid more than me if this is how they spend their time. on and on into a few more muddy side streets where the car dips waist deep in muddy water in some places until we come upon a street where on the sunny side of it a line of bored looking old men are squatting staring at the sky and at us when we pass by and turning their rosary beads. we ask the guard for directions and he produces the welcome answer that we are in situ and have finally found the promised location and that now all we have to do is to wait for the voters inside that booth, and those outside of it in the line, and these men sitting in the sun to finish and then of course it would be lunchtime for the registrars and then he would give us the first priority after that to take our cards and that he will make sure that all of this happens on time or we can hold him personally responsible. i silently admired the patience of the old men squatting in the sun and again silently admitted to myself that if the government is not willing to at least make the effort in the capital city to get people registered in a way that does not demand too much of them, then i am a lousy citizen and would not want to spend an entire working day chasing the vote. which seemed to be the consensus of the entire groups -and so we returned, an hour and a half later, tired, beaten, and bereft of our idealism and patriotism and sense of national responsibility.

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~ by safrang on March 4, 2009.

4 Responses to “chasing the vote”

  1. Dear Hamesha,
    I liked this post and wrote something about it in my blog. Your vivid account of how things are going on there is terrifying.

  2. Ah, the spirit of democracy.

    Cheer yourself up and keyword search “parliament fights” on YouTube. Moar democracy! Moar!

  3. hilarious. and heartbreaking.

  4. […] is a repository for the author’s vividly-rendered dreams and nightmares, reflections on Afghan politics and society, insomniac ramblings, creative writing, honest rants about the everyday aggravations of work, and, […]

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