A friend, exasperated, was venting to me her miseries of dealing with bureaucracies. I tickled her with a (true) incident from the seventies when we were traveling around in India by land. At that time the trains were steam, and one emerged from each trip bathed in sweat and coated with particular matter. Erudite Indians traveling in the same six person compartment would share sweets from their tiffin box, and ask you the meaning of life or your opinion of Mr. Bertrand Russellís mathematical treatise.
To make an advance booking for a sleeping berth involved 25 minutes in a back chamber of the station heaped with dusty ancient ledgers actually sealed with red tape. After a long wait, slowly, wheezing, the clerk entered our data in his book with a fountain pen, blotted it, checked and rechecked the signatures on our travelerís checks and passports, checked that our faces corresponded to the passport pictures, checked against a list of stolen traveler checks (there was a lively trade in them at the time) and stolen passportsÖ then suddenly the dust got to him and he sneezed. Without a thought, he tore a page from one of the old ledger books and blew his nose.