A couple of years ago, my landlady's YWCA city wing visited the Chanchalguda jail and she came home with 3-4 items prepared by women inmates and prisoners, the scheme is sold under the name Sudhaar Products from Central Jails and Prisons. It was very encouraging to read that the annual Numaish mela also had a stall dedicated to Sudhaar Prison Products. My husband and i were there last evening. From furniture to bed covers,towels to candles and soaps, there was pretty much everything. There were a few long-serving prisoners who did the PR. We picked up a bar of hand-made soap, wrapped in simple butter paper and waited for the counter-guy to issue us the receipt.There were different counter guys for different central jails - Warrangal, Cherlapalli,etc and they were issuing receipts for every damn item sold.By the way,our soap was from the Cherlapalli jail.The need for a receipt here was more in terms of promoting their cause through social media and all those with eco-friendly advice of saving paper here can hold their horses. Had the soap wrapper carried some information on that particular Sudhaar product and price, we would have still parted in good faith.
But then,bullies exist everywhere - our counter guy from Cherlapalli here was a very bald man who came close to abusing and threatening us in Telugu to return the soap and that he won't issue a receipt.He must have attended until 12th std but the education was not forthcoming.We tried to understand his logic - he said he has made a manual entry in his sheet of paper that 1 cake of soap has been sold.We were like, good for you but no heavens would come falling if a similar piece of paper was given to us.The Warrangal counter guy was more forthcoming, he was more than willing to issue a receipt but the police ego of his colleague bullied him into meek surrender.Another spectacled half- paan chewing henchman also tried to flex his police muscles with us.But then, truth hurts - we told him, he was useless and doing no service to customers by making a redundant entry in some random sheet of paper,it would be productive if he wrote us a receipt. The bystanders, were as mute as the rocks in the Outer Ring Road. They were happy collecting their receipts and their bags. It was not a big deal but it got into us that the stubbornness needs to be corrected and the police need to appreciate why a consumer right of a receipt is important for all and especially, being the guardian of the law, it is more important the habit is inculcated by them. I was almost reminded of how police constables wanted easy money but bargain for a receipt and they take to their heels.
Being insistent helps, the head in-charge, a smiling man calmed us down and said, he will issue a receipt.He acknowledged that however small or big the amount, a receipt will be issued. We also told him to train his subordinates to be a little more customer-friendly in terms of listening.But then, a grudge is a grudge. He issued the receipt in the wrong book - the Central Jail of Warrangal and tore the bill with all his smouldering smiling anger, that half the information on the top of the receipt remained with him. The embarrassment was tantamount -- we said thank you, but no thank you. Everybody was left red-faced. We actually felt we were inside a prison and thought how tough it must be for those who are wronged and not given a chance to negotiate. Those in power, clearly love to revel in power without a sneeze or a toss.