There’s an old saying: friends and promotions cannot go hand in hand. One has to let go of one for the other. Naturally it is painful. But it is more painful when the friends are animals who cannot express their pain of separation. This is the story of my friend Vijay Khabale who was recently promoted to the job of Public Relations Officer of the BMC.
What distinguishes him from other civic officers is that he strives to achieve perfection and for that he burns the civic lights late into the night. Naturally, the 9 to 5 types don’t like to work under him.
He has contributed three things to his department – a VIP directory, an annual calendar, and the Diwali ‘faral’.
MLAs, MPs and Lt Governors would often send requests for a VIP directory. Besides general information, it had contact numbers of every public servant and institution, right from the Raj Bhavan to the junior engineer of the local ward, and all emergency services.
The commissioner was very impressed with the calendar and wished to send a copy to the PM and President of India. Newly appointed Governor was impressed with the idea of the Diwali ‘faral’ as it contained everything require to celebrate the festival, from soap to sweets.
Before his promotion, he had a non air conditioned cabin which over looked the sprawling Azad Maidan. He also had three black feathered friends – crows. They would come into his cabin at 1 every afternoon and call out to him. He’d feed them. They didn’t accept food from anyone else. Over the years he got used to sharing his lunch with them. On fasting day like Navratri, he would order a meal for them from the canteen.
Now he has a big air conditioned cabin and the windows are permanently shut, and multi coloured plastic curtains are drawn. The walls are covered with photos of India’s heroes and national leaders. On one wall is a digital frame which keeps tracks of his meetings and daily schedule, and on another wall is a big board inscribed with the names of his predecessors.
His poor feathered friends no longer have access to his cabin and neither do their cries reach him.