“What is this bhangad?”, he said, disapprovingly, and looked up at me. He was looking at my passport application papers. The policeman in charge of the papers scrutiny at the local police station was referring to my name “Batul Zainul Mukhtiar”.
“Bhangad” in Marathi should roughly translate to “What is this headache inducing nonsense?” First of all, why did I have this complicated name? Second, why would I not use my husband’s name like any decent woman should? (Unsaid and implied questions, ofcourse. Even the policeman has learnt political correctness.)
He looked at me, and said, “Muslim?” I nodded. He looked at my husband’s name, and then my husband, and said, “Vivek Shah? Hindu?” I nodded again. “Love marriage?” Very disapproving, that. Directed more towards Vivek than me. I nodded mutely again.
Ofcourse, I was tempted to say, “No, arranged marriage. Arranged by deranged parents who did not know any better.”
But a police station is no place for humor. And anyone who has spent 8 debilitating hours, standing in three different queues, for a passport application, only prays that they are not going to be sent back there for another lifetime. So mutely pray, that the policeman finds nothing objectionable about your name, marriage, profession, living arrangements.