Monday, August 4, 2008

One day at the Passport Office

Prologue:

And so it came to pass that I had to get my passport done. The application form was obtained and filled up. I had also made trip one to the passport-application-submission-office to ascertain the distance from my house, and to clarify for good what documents need to be carried along, what kind of photograph needs to be affixed et cetera. The person I talked with told me that the background of the photograph needed to be white, and the one I was carrying with me, was light [which is exactly what is mentioned in the blue form [comes along with the application form, and contains rules how to fill the first form]], but not white, so I needed to get those. Also, he checked my other documents and told me that I needed to get them attested by a gazetted officer [even though the blue form says only ‘self attested’], and for address proof, any item of the following: a water bill / current bill / an address proof from the employer / ration card / election id / bank pass book would do. I showed him my pass book and the bills I had with me, and he said those were more than enough. This was one week ago.


Scene One:

One week later. Same place. Trip two. I enter the office. There were only a few people comparatively. I asked this female who was sitting nearby what the new protocol for the application was. Because the last time I was there, there were four counters and the original documents were being checked in a two other counters, which were presently empty. She looked back dumbly at me, and told me she had no idea, but was sitting there for the last half hour. I went to the reception-like lady, at the corner of the room, and asked the same question. She unglued her eyes from the TV on the wall, which was playing a Vishnuvardhan movie, without audio, and gave me a token number 3, and asked me to wait till that number was called. I told the female I talked to earlier, about the token. She jumped out of her chair, hurried over to the corner and returned with token number 5. The dude sitting next to her had heard me, and had beaten her to it.


It was 4:30 pm. The token number presently was 0 or some negative value, because I asked around and found a person in the far corner seat with a token 1. And he was actually waiting for his chance, with the expression ‘mera number kab ayega?’ Anyway, since I had nothing else to do, and there were only two others in front of me, I started listening to Stairway to Heaven on my mobile phone.


Scene Two:

Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is 8:03 minutes. I heard the entire song. The next was Eminem's 'Sing for the moment', and that was 5:41 minutes. Yet, the token number was still at 0. I decided that rather than sitting idle, I would at least make sure that I had all documents in order. So I walked over and asked the female behind counter 12 [the counter] whether the address proof given by the company would suffice [I started with that document because it was in glossy paper under a letter-head, with all the necessary details]. She took one glance at it and told me that I need to be working there for at least a year, for that document to be used as a address proof [and this is a on-the-spot-made-up rule. There is not a breath of this anywhere on the blue form]. It’s been only about three weeks through the job till date. So since that document was a no-go, I started pulling other similar stuff out from my bag. I took out a water bill, current bill, another water bill of the previous month, my new pass book, my mom’s pass book, my election id card, a ration card, the another address proof from the company, and attested copies of a few of these. But she came up with new rules for each of these documents. I needed to have bills dated at least one year apart. There needed to be at least one year’s transactions in the passbook [mine is as old as my time in the company]. The election id should not have this years date[I was in Surathkal for the last four years]. And the one rule that was mentioned in the blue form was that if only the ration card was being submitted as address proof, another document had to also be submitted alongside. So, even that couldn't be used.


Man, did that suck. All that time and energy and documents - and I still had nothing that actually could act as a satisfactory address proof.


That was the nadir.


Scene 3:

Then it hit me. My mom’s pass book also had me as a joint account holder. I rifled through the pages and found my name updated on the nineteenth page. I showed her my discovery. She went and discussed the matter over with her boss, came back five minutes later, and told me the decision - As an address proof I needed to get - a xerox of my mom’s pass book in such a way that - the first page having my mom’s name and the name of the bank; and the 19th page having mine and mom’s name together with the permanent address; and two pages following the 19th page, showing transactions over a a period of time greater than one year – should all be on the first page of the xerox. Also, I needed a xerox of my new passbook. A xerox of my election id card – printed back to back, like the card itself. And all these xeroxes in duplicate. Additionally, one copy of each of these three xeroxes needed to be attested by a notary [and the nearest one was on the ground floor of the same building]. This would satisfy the office.


Scene 4:

It was now 5:03 pm. I went to the Xerox shop, also on the ground floor, same building, where there was this female with total experience with a Xerox machine less than that of mine. After having successfully screwed up two sheets she got the hang of a back to back xerox. Another two sheets later, she learnt the art of printing multiple pages in the same sheet.


At last, I took the xeroxes from her [my new passbook was still xeroxed in such a way that only the king or the jack in a pack of cards could read it correctly. normal people would have to turn it over.] and the duplictes, and went to the notary. It was 5:18 pm by now. There was a big board saying ‘Mr. Vishwanath [Someone]’ [LLb, etc.]. I walked in and there was this fat dude who took three xeroxes from my hand and painstakingly slowly put two seals on them. He asked me to wait for sometime, as ‘Saar tea anta hogidare’. After five minutes he got bored of waiting himself, so he took the three ‘sealed’ documents, along with a few other sheets and disappeared. I was waiting there with these two other clueless females in the same predicament as I was in. [by the way, the passport office closes by 6:00 pm, and I had no intention of going through all this again, so I was desparate of getting this done with].


Twenty five minutes later, he sauntered back with a green signature on the sheets, by some Deeepa Srinivas. I then observed that the seals on the sheets didn't match the name of the notary in any way. I let that slide. Time was against me.


He asked me ‘Amount kottra?’ and I told him that I haven’t paid anything. He says ‘Ondu arvattu rupaayee kodi’ – 60 rupees for three goddamn signatures by one arbit Deeepa with three e’s in her bloody name. She had no nameplate in the room.


It was 5:45 pm already, and I had no choice but to pay him the amount and return in haste.


Scene 5:

I rush back to the first floor only to find out, that that the dreadful pace in which the process was moving along hadn’t changed a bit, and the token number was now at 2. But atleast, I was up next. By this time there was no damn seat to sit. So I stood till the counter-12-female found a dozen ‘faults’ in female-token-2’s form, and at last female-token-2 conceded defeat and left. I stepped up then. It was 5:55 pm.


She looked at the xeroxes and observed me that the address in my voter’s id was slightly different than the others. It is. I knew this. There is one useless extra line saying ‘Fifth Cross, Kuruburahalli’. The first half of the new line is news [as there are no Crosses from 1 – 4 anywhere around my house], and the second half redundant. But the rest of the address is right. But this was a grievous, unforgivable error by her standards. The address had to be same in all three documents. So, she asked me to replace the notary-attested-voter-id-xerox with the company’s address proof itself. A pointless waste of twenty odd bucks for the useless signature and xerox. Then she looked at the other xeroxes and told me then that I need to have xeroxes of these documents after they have been attested by the notary.


Man, how I wished I could have some kind of recording device just to prove how these idiots contradict each other and even themselves all the bloody time. Still. her word was law. I went to the xerox female and helped her increase her experience with the machine, and got three more copies of the notary signed documents.


Scene 6:

It was 6:00 pm. I got back. The other stuff, the more important part, took about 3 minutes. She checked my original documents. Took a photograph from a webcam. Printed a sheet with the details which would be entered into the passport. Gave a receipt with the information that I had applied for a passport and had paid 1000 bucks. It was 6:03 pm. I was done. I walked out.


Epilogue:

After having endured a two and a half hour BMTC bus journey, in the middle of the bloody afternoon; most of that journey spent cramped in the last seat between these two gentlemen who seemed to have had a day long drinking competition, which involved neither of them wanting to concede defeat to the other; a half an hour to the passport office; and with all the documents duly filled, double checked, cross checked, clarified with people working in the same bloody office, all the while following every measly rule given in the blue sheet to the smallest apostrophe– I still had to go through all that utter crap just to prove that the house I have been living in from the last 18 years was indeed my bloody home.


Damn, they should really come up with a better solution.


For starters, if you need to add more rules, update the bloody blue form at least. And remove the on-the-spot rule making power that is so freely exercised by most people on the other side of the table.


Damn, again.


PS: I still have the police verification to look forward to. And there are similar delightful stories about that too.


PS_2: About the length of this post. I was bored. I was pissed off. And strangely not sleepy. Added to the fact that I type slightly faster than I used to, I had three pages typed before I knew it.

Anyway, consider this a heads up, if you haven’t yet got your passport done. Else, last heard, the earth is still rotating from west to east.

7 comments:

arbitblogs said...

Ah! Somehow my passport application interaction did not involve Counter Numbers or the -dumb-girl-behind-the-counter or the on the spot rule making competition. Mine was just as follows:
1) Go to passport office
2) Find I am the only person there
3) Show documents and give filled form
4) Give xeroxes.
5) Make sure the form they fill does not have mistakes.
6) Take acknowledgement
7) Get the **** out of there!

And my police verification didnt take place for over a month. So concerned, i went there myself. He asked for my bank pass book. I showed him. He asked me what i was doing. I said 'nothing'. He said OK and I left!

PS: Guess having a mom working in the Central Government really helps!!!

Dha said...

LOLz

PS: guess your PS is right!

coz when things happened my way, i could fill in six scenes and three pages..

Logik said...

Hey, me got that light-white background nonsense too.. so finally I gave a white photo which shows me like some runaway convict/militant.... U.S chances gone only...

As to the procedure, mine was almost similar to N.R's...

P.S: guess getting it done in no-busy mangalore helps...

P.P.S: police verification was very elegant. Mr.Gandhi did the job, along with host of xeroxes of other important documents

Srikanth said...

Hilarious...

My sympathies for you... (Only that comes free in this country save advice)

Nithin "Kitta" Shenoy said...

Dude...

I just went to an agent, paid 1.4 k, gave him the originals and the xeroxes, filled some form and came back. After a week, he called me back and returned the originals. Then, in 20 day, the cops came to my house. Of course, for the police verification. After that I went to the station, the inspector asked my whereabouts and all. When I told NITK, immediately a broad smile appeared on his face and in a few minutes I was out of the place. BTW, it was my first police station visit of my life too, LOL.

P.S : When u go to the station, u need to take some documents.RATION CARD IS MANDATORY FOR ADDRESS PROOF. Even driving license does not count as proof. Great rules eh? :)

Nithin "Kitta" Shenoy said...

And,

@Logik: Good old Mr.Gandhi always comes handy in any matters regarding the cops :)

Logik said...

@Kitta- of course of course...
through an agent proved to be slightly costly for u. I got it in exactly 1200 rupees.
1000 for the passport application,
and 200 for police chai-paani.

and ur latter advice helps. else there'd be one more visit to the police station. It was my first visit too, and hopefully will be the last.