Friday, 26 July 2013

The 25 Step Guide to Getting Your Passport

1)    Register yourself on the website Download the e-form required to make a fresh application, and skim through it to see the details required. It looks easy enough. So close the form and procrastinate.
2)      Get prodded at work to expedite the process. Rush to complete the form the same day, upload it where it needs to be uploaded.
3)      An appointment with your nearest Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) needs to be scheduled. Make an online payment of the passport fee. Encounter a glitch in the process and panic.
4)      The glitch gets resolved. Relax.
5)      Relax some more as no appointments are available.
6)      Log in the next day, five minutes after the time at which the appointment booking for your PSK starts. All appointments have been taken already.
7)      Next time you try, log in half an hour before the appointment booking starts. Practice the process twice, so that you can be really quick. Succeed at booking appointment, finally. It’s in two days.
8)      Look at the ‘Document Advisor’ link at the website.
i)        Realise that your parents have no idea as to where your birth certificate is, necessary for everyone born after 1989. Begin frantic search.
ii)       Scour the neighbourhood for notaries who can help prepare an affidavit for you, attesting to your address and identity. 9 times out of ten, they also double up as passport touts.
iii)     Rack your brains about Government servants you know, who can vouch for your good moral character, deemed a necessity for those applying under the Tatkal Scheme. The government servant needs to be at least a rank of Undersecretary to the government. Conclude that the only person you know (of), that high up is Umbridge.
iv)     Get your misconceptions corrected. Undersecretary is not that high up.
v)      Appreciate your tardiness in not consulting the Advisor before taking an appointment.
9)      Organise your documents the morning of your appointment. Notice that your father’s name on the character certificate (issued by the government servant), is written incorrectly. Panic.
10)   Rush to the office of the government servant, in the opposite corner of the city. Reach before the peon has unlocked the cabin and the secretary has arrived at her desk.
11)   Hover over the secretary’s computer getting the changes made. Silently will the government servant to hurry up and sign. Shoot down his offers of tea, and make your way to the PSK, again to the other end of the city.
12)   Mentally abuse the driver for following traffic rules.
13)   Reach the PSK 15 minutes late, then pray while in the queue of people waiting to be told whether they have the required documents. Notice people being sent back. Pray more fervently.
14)   Reach the top of the queue after a 45 minute wait. The guy at the counter will ask for a ton of things, none of which were mentioned on the website. Thank God for giving you the sense to carry all the documents (really, all) you accumulated since you were born.
15)   Get approved. Enter the waiting area to await your turn with the passport officers.
16)   Wait.
17)   Wait some more.
18)   Meet the first guy in the process. He will scan your fingerprints, check your details and snark about you being late, conveniently forgetting the three hours you have waited subsequently for the process to begin.
19)   Wait again. Meet the second guy. He will ask to see some of your originals again. As you dive into your folder to extricate them, he will grow impatient, and tell you to let it be. Move to the final stage.
20)   Notice people being sent back even in the third stage, about six hours into the start of the process. You will be too exhausted to worry, just wait your turn.
21)   The guy at the third stage will notice something amiss in your documents. Examine them minutely to find a way out while he threatens to send you back. Succeed at convincing him.
22)   Leave the PSK with a receipt.
23)   Two days later, get a visit from the post-man. He will have your passport. And will want a ‘dakshina’ from you to hand it over. Be humble, do not remind him that he is just doing his job, not granting you a personal favour. Pay up.
24)   Behold your passport.

25) A few days later, you will get a visit from the neighbourhood policeman, as part of the verification process. He will be nice enough, filling up a form, stapling photocopies of your documents together (again not bothering with the originals), refusing offers of tea and water. Then before leaving, he will glance sideways, averting eye contact, and ask with a smile "Kuch denge nahi?"
What can I say, when in India, always pay up.

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