The Shyam

The Passport Chronicles, Day 69 to Finish

Or “How TCS converted an archaic, confused, mess into a modern, all consuming, disaster!

Welcome to the grand finale! The big one. The final part in the epic 4 parter known as the Passport chronicles. While I would love to tell you that this is all a result of an over active imagination, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a few times, I had to ensure that I was not on camera and this was not a giant work of fiction. But sadly, it wasn’t. And without further adieu, let us move to the final stages:

Verification, Part One

Yes, you read that right… If you are, by any chance, a decently logical person, you know what that title means. But yes, back to the story. Just two days from where we left our intrepid adventurer, who had boldly gone where no man had gone before (except to wait a long time, age and die in their very seats, if they ever found one in the overly cramped passport office).

But yes, back to our explorer. Well, two days in, I receive a phone call on my home landline (and no, I am not sharing that with you here, you stalker, you!). I picked it up (as I normally am apt to do), and lo and behold, to the surprise of my surprise, it was the inspector from the local police station. In his gruff voice, he asked if I was Shyam Seshadri. While I wanted to snarkily answer, “Last time I checked”, I held my acid tongue, and enquired who was asking. When the gruff voice got even gruffer (is that even a word?) and replied, “Police Inspector“, all snarkiness was extinguished in a jiffy.

“Yes Sir”
“Then Please come to the police station tomorrow evening, and bring all your documents with you”

Well, when the man beckons, you listen!

Snarky Answer

So the very next day, I show up at the station (almost tempted to show up before the place opens, but I resisted!) with my papers. And I was greeted by the very model of efficiency. The same group that had gotten rid of me after tiring of me when I had swung by initially looking for my passport. Now these guys, took one look at me, and processed my paperwork smoothly. Of course, with my jinxed luck, my car’s clutch ended up failing, and I had forgotten some papers, and the station was closing for the night. End result, a harried, desperate rush to hand in all my papers. But other than that, it was approved without a hitch!

Of course, as I lay in bed at night, cursing the luck gods for abandoning me, I thought that the Passport office was actually ridiculously fast, as they turned around in 2 days after I had submitted the form to get to police verification. Pretty impressive, maybe TCS had done something right, and it was just the passport office staff who had messed up. Maybe TCS was not the bumbling, gigantic, monolithic, disaster waiting to happen, but rather a company on top of its game, who actually developed useful products. Yeah Right!

Status Update

And so it began. The dreaded wait for the approval and the actual passport. The first two days after the actual verification, I found the passport status to be the same, taunting message as it had been previously: “We are awaiting the police verification for your application.”. But then, the third day (Day 72 for those of you keeping track), it finally happened. 72 days after I had submitted my passport for change of address, after 72 mind numbingly, torturous days of having the same status message stare back at me that I had started murmuring it in my sleep at night, the status message finally changed. “We have received the police verification, and shall mail you the passport subject to all documents being in order.” Hallelujah. And it actually gave a date of two weeks by which it would be mailed. My luck had finally changed!!

Verification, Part Deux!

And so the D-Day approached. 14 days became 9, and 9 became 7. Through it all, I kept constantly checking my passport status, hoping against hope that they mailed the passport earlier than promised. Through it all, the message remained constant. And then 7 became 5 and 5 became 3 days. I knew it was too good to be true, and too good to last.

It started just like any other innocent phone call. You know, the phone rings, you go, pick it up. But then, a voice best left in my memories came back to haunt me. It was my old (if you could call two weeks old) friend, the Police inspector. And he was calling for the same reason he had the last time around. Verification!!! Dun dun dun dun….

Yes, it was as I had expected (or not really expected, but assumed as the worst possible case). It was the second trip, the horrible trip that had turned into eons at the passport office. I had assumed correctly, that the passport office had no clue what they were doing. Lost email that was never sent? Resubmit the passport particulars form? All bull, all methods of passing the buck and not wanting to own up to the fact that they had no clue what was happening to my passport.

Passing the buck

Pictured: Typical mentality of a passport office worker…

And so, the second form that I had submitted, had finally made its way to Police verification. What had come, two days after my visit to the passport office, was in fact my first application! Go figure! And so I visited the police station yet again, with the papers, yet again, and submitted my paperwork yet again!! And I did tell the officer that it was his job to make sure that I did not end up with two passports or none because of this paperwork goof-up.

And He Scores!

And then it was finally done. I had submitted all known requirements for the form. For the next three days, I eagerly checked the online passport status, hoping against hope that this resubmission of police verification did not shift back my passport mailing date. And then, lo and behold, it was postponed by a week. Now, my worries increased. I wondered, what else could possibly go wrong? And so 3 days to D-Day became 10 days. 10 became 7 and 7 finally became 2.

And suddenly, in a surprise first in the entire process, something magical, something amazing happened. My doorbell rang! The ringing itself wasn’t that amazing (it was like any other door bell, and my door bell had been working fine, so that wasn’t it either). It was the fact that, 84 days after I had submitted for a simple change of address for my passport, it had finally arrived! Hallelujah!!!

2 comments

  1. SA
    August 21, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Seriously, why do you (and others) choose to live in that God forsaken country (India)? (This is not a rhetorical question … I really am curious as to what would keep you there despite the crappy infrastructure, the bureaucratic red-tape, unethical politicians etc.?)

  2. Vega
    August 30, 2012 at 1:13 am

    How about “love of motherland”? Indians are by far the only people I’ve come across (with my limited exposure to the exotic cultures) that can relate with what I am saying here. Despite the problems back home (of infra, corruption, bureaucracy, unethical politics (I personally am yet to encounter the “ethical” version WhereTF does it exist?)), religion, caste etc . the list grows long. Even almost every Indian living out of the country continues to struggle with uninterrupted thoughts of moving back and help with stuff that really needs it.

    I still wonder how after being spoiled by the ways of US of A (which the whole world pays for) can someone even thinks of moving back to the _crappy_ home. Home is home I guess. The need to feel rooted someplace that can be called home is inevitable for most anyone, Indians believe in it more than most others (not to say folks from other countries don’t love with their nation or aren’t prod of it, just that the feeling is more pronounced/articulated in this culture). I also agree it might seem scarily chaotic to an outsider, unacquainted w/ the ways of the land but it is a way of life to the natives, as always, “there is pattern in chaos!” ;)

    And to the “God forsaken” bit… well what can I say!! How can a state hardwired into spirituality, having the oldest religion known to man be god forsaken!? LOL

    The satirical Chronicles by theshyam is but only a reflection on the greasy internal workings of the largest democracy in the world and of course there is long way India has to go before she undos the murky mess spilled by the invading rulers she endured for thousands of years. It has only been little over 60 since the independence and I say by fucking g*d we are in good shape!

    (corrupt and bureaucratic maybe, but thank god we are not destroying nations by literally bombing them one after another. At least not yet!!)

    Satire has not penetrated so much around the first world (btw by order of occurrence don’t anyone else think 1st should be the 3rd/4th/nth!?) as it has in most older cultures. Some facts though are so painfully close to reality that they are taken seriously in all senses. Put this on the Onion!

    You have to visit the mystic far east to experience the magic, it is as mystical to the natives as it is to the visitors.

    PS: If you thought was I was a wee bit emotional in my response know this, I’ve a full time job and them some and I was still at work when I wrote this.

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