Last week I happened to visit three countries. The UK has over a 100 cases of swine flu, Dubai does not have one yet (I think) and India has one detected case of swine flu.
Dubai and the UK are not screening anyone for the flu. India is. If you can call it screening, that is. As usual, we are the best at designing processes and most awful at implementation.
Swine flu screening, according to our babus, is a process of making tired and jet lagged travelers fill up a declaration form stating that they are in the pink of health, stand in yet another mile long queue to have the aforementioned form stamped by a babu in a face mask and finally have jet lagged and now queue phobic traveller submit the form to a bored looking chap in immigration.
Why can’t just bored babu stamp the swine form??? Well, he obviously can’t. How can bored babu have the same skill sets as face mask babu??? Face mask babu is obviously a doctor or nurse or something like that. And one needs all that education to stamp a swine flu form with the power and the passion of a blacksmith, doesn’t one???
Also face-mask babus are gifted face readers. The man looked at my face and through my hair when he stamped the form. For all that matters, even if I had cancelled out everything on the form and instead written in bold that “I AM AFFLICTED BY SWINE FLU”, the man would in all probability, have stamped the form with all his passion and vigour, said “Ookay, theeeeenk you siiiir” and let me go on to bored babu.
Maybe, just maybe, face-mask babus are actually voodoo doctors. Maybe the harder they hammer the form with the stamp, the further swine flu flies from the person whose name is on the form. Maybe “Ookay, theeeeenk you siiiir” is a voodoo charm. Maybe its swine flu that is making me write this...
Finally, I am sure the screening process aims to achieve more than just screening. It aims to make the country immune to swine flu. An old grandmother remedy for disaster says “Feed a fever and starve a cold” and so therefore only old grandmother babu could have conceptualized this brilliant process. After all, only when you throw in a few thousand people in twisted serpentine queues, with a potential swine flu victim on all four sides of every passenger, can you ensure that we have the maximum potential traveling population exposed to swine flu.
And how well the process works…One swine flu over the babu’s nest...And landed in Hyderabad…