Officialdom in the city of nawabs is beginning to give up its nawabi habits.
Its bureaucrats are gradually substituting paan and gutka with chewing gum and toffees. And they're beginning to arrive at work on time. At 9.30am on Wednesday, there was no place to park the car on the main campus of the secretariat.
"Full attendance hai, Sahib... babu log kaam chalu kar diye hain... isliye parking full hai," remarks a guard at gate number 7. This was not so barely 10 days ago, in a place infamous for set-piece replies like, "Sahib lunch ke baad ayenge (sahib will arrive after lunch)", and "Aao chalo chai pi ke aate hain (come, let's go for a cup of tea)".
A peon at the secretariat was pulled up on Wednesday by a bureaucrat as soon as he fished out a pouch of "paan masala", and was reminded of the ban on chewing tobacco in government offices. The man sheepishly returned the pouch to his pocket.
Another employee, a peon in the new Vidhan Bhavan building, said gutka and paan masala lovers were switching to chewing gum and toffees. "The best part is people no longer throw the wrapper around, they put it into their pockets," he said.
The state forest department has even put up posters in its corridors that say "Aap camere ki nazar mein hain. Gutka khane par Rs 1,000 fine lagega (you're on camera. Chewing gutka will attract a fine of Rs 1,000)." Most office premises appear cleaner. Corners stained with paan and gutka spittle have become history.