Friday, 14 September 2007

Agony and ecstasy

Why does there have to be a story?! Why cant things just go like they're supposed to? Anyway, so my old passport had almost run out of its meagre 30 or so pages. And with impending Kiwi and Norwegian visa applications, I had to get an additional booklet soon. That's when I discovered that the GOI, and every Indian High Commission on the planet had discontinued that very service! The alternative? Apply for a fresh passport!! But I had a good six years of validity left on mine!!! Like anyone cared :|.

So a new passport... Trouble is, my old passport had been issued from Mumbai while I was in college. In keeping with the local tradition I had naively used my then current address. But "Room No. 206, Hostel 6" is (thankfully but also regrettably) no longer applicable. This however, would not be too big a deal, many told me. All I needed was a proof of my current residence. Umm, what proof? My driving licence was issued when I still lived in Asansol. I don't have a bank account in India. I don't pay electricity bills, phone bills (my cell's prepaid), and I don't vote. But I do have a Kolkata Ration Card!!! That's when I find out that the Regional Passport Office in Kolkata is most likely the only one in the country that does not recognise a Ration Card as valid proof of address. Apparently it's too easy to acquire one in this state. Bummer eh?

So I figured, hell with it, I'll continue living in Room 206, Hostel 6 for a few more years, just gimme a new passport! Nope, unless I changed my address to somewhere in this state, RPO Kolkata wouldn't be able to issue me anything at all. It was a fresh passport, with a change of address (and of course clearance required from the RPO Mumbai) or nothing :((. That's when I realised that a printout of my offshore bank account would work!! But a ration card wont :|. So armed with said printout, I applied for the Tatkal issue of a fresh passport, and without any further drama, was promised a brand new passport the next afternoon.

Cut to me wading through ankle deep waters to get to DumDum Metro the next day courtesy the afternoon's downpour :(. I managed to get to the RPO at the designated time, waited patiently for a good hour. (After having been shooed off a couple of times by the irate chap at the counter :|.) And then the counter was shut, and the lights promptly switched off on the other side of the glass windows!!! I still didn't have my passport!!!! And no amount of pleading, cursing, indignation got me any further.

Somehow I managed to track down one of the officials who'd assisted me in my mad run about the place the previous day. First stroke of luck, he was outraged! An applicant returning empty handed from a promised Tatkal date?!! Unthinkable! Just then the chap from the counter (yes, the irate one) was passing by, bag in hand, on his way home. My saviour pounced on him like an angry Bengal tiger! (Okay, I was like ready to worship this guy for the rest of my life at the time.) But anyway, this resulted in me trailing irate-chap-from-counter back to his desk, and him fishing out a huge pile of files from a cavernous cupboard and dumping it in front of me. As he stood tapping his foot, it took me a second to realise that I was supposed to find my file from this mess!

It was only once I was back home comparing my new passport to my old one that I realised I had been renamed. I was now Ray K. {no surname}. X-(( And these are Bengalis!! People who should know that Ray is not a popular first name, but an extremely common last name!!! I was beyond furious. But at least one thing had been achieved, the only place on the entire book where Mumbai showed up was under 'previous passport issued from:' :-<.

Back to the RPO today and to an apathetic and bored looking man behind a desk. My newly acquired passport disappeared for about an hour, and when I got it back there was an explosion of smudgy blue stamps all over the first few pages. Somewhere in there I could barely recognise my name. This time, the first name had been misspelt.

I am really not sure how I managed to not do something stupid. Like punch the guy in the face. I'm quite proud of myself actually. What I did manage to do was sit very still for another hour. Eventually it was back, my new passport whose pages were already filling up even before I got it! This time, it was all good. Spellings, order of names, address, parents' names :).

I suppose I should be thankful everything did work out in just three days... Now I'm hoping this one survives longer than 27 months of active duty.

immensely relieved
Listening to: Dido - See you when you're 40


histrionix said...

Don't they make special jumbo/encyclopaedia sized passports for you wanderers?

kray said...

they used to, 72 pages, but that stopped a while back... now I hear they've just started issuing some 64 page booklets, but that hasn't filtered down to Cal yet :-< maybe next time :|

Akshay Saxena said...

I can't fuckin figure out why they cant make this process electronic... Does PAN card work btw

PS: Dont feel too bad.. i got heat stroke trying to get mine

Anu said...

Ahm... I *know* you're going to kill me for saying this, but that was one the funniest posts I've ever read! :D :D :D
It's just awfully well-written... madly descriptive and I could picture the entire ludicrous thing perfectly in my head.

kate said...

wow. my sympathies.

my fi visa says 'corneel' university. I didn't bother going back to get it corrected. I had had enough of the consulate for a while.

kray said...

@ sax: u got a heat stroke?!!! and u had to get a new passport?!!!!!

also, no I dont think PAN card works... it doesn't have address on it does it? I dunno, don't have one myself, but my Mum was saying..

@ anu: grrr. wait till I see u next :|

@ kate: whoa! didn't know US consulate ppl screwed up :O I said, some people just have the worst luck :|