It all starts from the shoes.
It has to.
They have been run ragged, scampering from floor to floor, pressed under the burden of massive, rotting, fly-stained files. Each time the wearer presents a new case to his superior with a, “Submitted for kind perusal, please.”, the soles cave in on themselves a little more.
The socks are lucky that they do not need to be presentable or seen, for it is too late for them anyway. They lost a war to the big toe and no longer have an identity or shape of their own.
Next come the trousers. Legend has it that they were once a part of a suit. Maybe they still are together, maybe not. The rigors of working in the government have driven clefts between the staunchest of relationships. The trousers have surely seen better days. Now they just look slept in- because they usually are. It is no longer advisable to look for the crease because their isn’t one to be found. Moreover, they have long since crossed over the partition between trousers and a shalwar. In fact, they are now categorized as ‘Shalwousers’. Of special mention, are the knees which show more wear owing to decades spent smooching the floor, bent over.
The belt comes with the territory, and disposition of the wearer. For those unlucky souls, still floundering in the choppy waters of the bureaucracy, the belt has lost its efficacy due to the countless times they have been futile in rescuing the trousers from being pulled down to the knees in meetings by irate seniors –figuratively speaking of course.
The shirt is irrelevant and comes into the equation not because of its texture or quality; rather it is due to the monstrosity that it tries to encompass…the gut. Their ability or failure to ‘hold it all in’ is in fact the actual ACR of the officer, if there ever was a need for one.
The gut is the end-all-be-all of the government officer. You can tell a lot about the government officer by the acreage of his/her pastureland- don’t kid yourselves ladies, you’re in it too. Although in case of females the gut readings are not as conclusive or accurate, owing to difficulties due to the norms and ethics involved in observation. Therefore, anthropologists have reverted to other tried and tested variables such as quantity of war paint and accompanying paraphernalia)
If the buttons are down to their last threads, hanging on for dear life- cliffhanger-style- you can tell the wearer has been classically conditioned in the art of seminar/workshop/meeting attendance. The gutsize of an officer is directly proportional to the number of meetings attended, which is in turn, is a dead give-away to the level of involvement in day-to-day government affairs. Because, lets face it, not much happens in committee meetings involving the done-to-death powerpoint presentations that does not involve tea, biscuits, sandwiches, patties, work lunch e.t.c.
One of the first thing a government officer learns is to never, NEVER, pass on a chance to feed the gut. There may not be any free lunches in life, but if you play your cards well and are willing to endure the meetings, you can assure yourself a pre-retirement era of free luncheons.
Lets move on.
There are two things that define a government officer: a tie and cufflinks. After a few years in the service, an officer can easily quit his job and open up a tie and cufflink shop. No matter what the weather, come hail, snow or fire the government officer will be sporting a tie that will have seen better days. Cufflinks will mostly be sported by officers whose hands are in full view most of the time. Be it holding millions of files as they scamper after their boss, or the food plate while heading out for refills on state-sponsored buffets. Nothing says ‘made it’ like a gleaming pair of cufflinks- one of many presented to the wearer on prior such ‘meetings’.
The coat has spent more days hanging on the backs of chairs, than on the owner’s shoulders. It thus, performs two important functions: on the chair it is a constant reminder to snooping seniors who are liable to burst in on any day that the wearer is present and on premises, even when he often isn’t. On the occasions when the coat has been spotted in the company of it’s owner, it is easy to mistake it for a shawl, kurta or even a jacket – depending upon the mileage the apparel has accrued.
Sitting on top of this amalgam is the owner: the government officer. A quivering double chin that has heard more ‘no’s’ than ‘yes’s’, fed on years and years of office tea and samosas leads up to a pair of lips that have been frozen into a scowl that strive to resemble a smile. Spectacles are merely for show, as the wearer’s eyesight has long since been considered obsolete along with other mental faculties. The officer performs purely on muscle and gut memory.
The crowning glory of the specimen, is a clear and shiny helipad that has been created over the course of days, weeks and years of pulling out hair, one follicle at a time.
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls!
(i) It must be noted that the size of the gut is irrespective and in most cases, in contrast to the overall health of the officer.
(ii) Government officers are rarely spotted in isolation. They travel in packs and feed off of each other’s company.
(iii) There are further sub-species within, known as ‘service groups’ which may differ slightly.
*Disclaimer: Resemblance to any uncle, father, aunty, brother, sister is purely coincidental.
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