Tea and transfers

Shriprakash Rao

Shriprakash Rao attended St. Xavier's School, Jaipur where he was a sports enthusiast, with particular emphasis on cricket and basket ball. He was also a good short-distance swimmer.

Rao joined the Department of Customs and Central Excise as Inspector, and retired as Additional Commissioner in 2015. He traveled to many nations as a trade negotiator for the Central Government on several occasions for various trade agreements.

Rao is an avid adventurer who has under taken trekking expeditions across Himalayas in India and Nepal. He fancies his visit to Iceland to see the Northern Lights to be the crown jewel of his travels. He is a keen photographer while traveling.

Rao loves driving and has under taken many long drives across India, initially on his motor cycle and later on by car. He is an avid reader and a movie buff, especially of classic westerns.

Rao presently lives in Jaipur with his wife.

It was April, 2012. I was posted in India’s economic capital, Mumbai, at the island port city of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT). The workload was heavy but life was peaceful as we were fairly well settled in our daily routine in the busy city. My wife was also happy and comfortable as she was living in home town. Life couldn’t have been better.

Containers stacked up at JNPT, Mumbai

Containers stacked up at JNPT, Mumbai


I was two and half years away from my retirement and was looking forward to return to my home town, Jaipur, after 26 years.

Our department has a policy to accommodate would-be retirees with less than three years of remaining service by posting them to their hometown. Hence, I started harboring such plans and decided to speak to my Commissioner, who was also from Jaipur.

Next day as soon as I reached my office, Commissioner called me for our usual morning tea. Without wasting any time, I decided to take up the matter with him. Commissioner (God bless his soul), looking dapper as usual and smoking his favourite Classic Lights, blew smoke circles into the air while he pondered over my transfer request. But before he could opine a few other fellow officers also joined us. Thus Commissioner also discussed the issue with them as well. But we all had to leave to attend to our duties. Thus the matter could not be fully discussed and resolved that morning.

It was a busy day in office throughout the day, and I forgot all about my morning discussion with the Commissioner. When I reached home, I told my wife about my idea of seeking transfer back to Jaipur as I was close to retirement.

I was pleased to see that she was also happy to be going back to own home after 26 years. She also remarked that I would indeed be fortunate to retire from the same town where I had joined service more than three decades ago. All seemed well.

On reaching office next day, I joined my Commissioner for our morning tea. We chatted on many issues but he did not bring up the issue of my request for transfer. But, it was important for me, as my request for transfer would be forwarded by him.

As our morning tea was coming to end and the day was expected to be a busy one (as we were preparing answers to a barrage of Parliament questions), I hesitantly asked him if he had thought over my request for transfer proposal. He looked at me gravely & lit up his Classic Lights & called the sepoy to tell him not to send any persons for some time.

This made me nervous, because it was rare for him to give such orders. Then he looked at me intently and asked me if all was well in office and at home. I said yes. He then asked me if I have any pressing engagements which need my continuous presence in Jaipur. I said no, as my parents had passed away many years ago and my son was working in Bengaluru. He then said that it would be his sincere advice that I should not put in request for transfer and retire from Mumbai itself.

I was perplexed and asked him why? I also added that my request for transfer was within the rules and the request was from a ‘sought after city’ to a small city.

He was on to his third Classic Lights by then but told me somberly that after more than thirty years in the department, I should know how our Board behaved in the matter of such requests. Even after much probing he did not elaborate nor did he change his mind.

I also did not change my mind. My request for transfer was forwarded with his strong recommendation and the Chief Commissioner did the same.

I was transferred, for sure, but to Cochin Zone. Before the completion of my tenure in Mumbai, I was posted to Calicut.

I then realised how well my Boss knew the wayward manner in which the CBEC functioned. And why he was so hesitant.

Yes, I did make it to Jaipur, albeit just two months short of retirement. Two years in God's Own Country is a tale to be told but some other day.

A 16th century painting of Calicut port.

A 16th century painting of Calicut port.



This glimpse into your days of service was very interesting to read. Your style of putting words across makes it easy to paint a picture of the scenario. Can't wait to read the anecdote from God's own country!

Glad you are back in Jaipur!

Thanks sir

I was taken to not less than 3 members of the then CBEC for my last posting by no less than a Chief Commissioner. I was very hopeful but got disheartened to see the list of transferees. Later, got to know of the arrogance, because I didn't see the one who was at the helm and who happened to know me personally as we worked in one section.
Thats how it goes in Board. I also came to know of the Board's functioning for my association with MTCP work of NACEN, Faridabad, closely working with secretarial staff of people in the top of the CBEC pyramid.
However, I did not regret my posting in academy as I was fortunate to take IRS officers on MCTP stint to foreign legs of training programmes.
Now, I am sure of whoever said ' everything that happens, happens for good only' as also, ' all well that ends well'.
Fortunate are those who at the end stay happy, lucky and stay blessed in this uncertain world.

Even I tried for my last posting back to the place I had built my dream home where I thought, I could spend a blissful retired life and more so, to get those nitty- grittys of the finishing I wanted to give to my home, to cherish in the remainder of my life.

To help me in this endeavour, I found support in a Chief Commissioner who took me to 3-4 Members of the then CBEC . I was very hopeful about my last posting when I got a big jolt. My name did not figure in the list at all, meaning, I was saved of the immediate humongous problems of packing up for another place and to make my life more complex like your getting thrown into a devil's cauldron, you mentioned.

Later, when I pondered as to what went wrong, I found it was the arrogance of the boss at the top of the Board what mattered. Fallacy is that this officer, whom I didn't meet with representation of my case, happened to be my direct boss in one of the field formations and because I took things for granted, being so.
As the luck would have it.I have learnt my lessons hard thereafter, no wonder.

I don't know how it stands as of now, but safe return of the truant son to the family's fold definitely brings back the tears of joy, it is said.

I am happy too for having the last laugh. Blessing in disguise, I was drafted, as I was faculty at NACEN, to play a big role in Mid Career Training Programme for officers under CBEC at the academy and took groups of trainees in their foreign leg of learning.

Shriprakash you have taken bygones to your stride and that's the biggest victory for you. Stay blessed and enjoy the nature, as it befolds.

Let bygones be As you rightly said our move turned out well for us.

Quite engaging and refreshing! Glad to know about your love for Jaipur. Look forward to the next story.

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