Getting something as routine as a passport is still tough despite rules being relaxed. Stepping into any foreign embassy is like stepping into Nasa -- you switch off your cell phones, your bags are sanitised, and you feel like an invader, imposter, the works. Getting a visa to any developed country, if you are an Indian and single, is tougher than getting through the IAS. Then, the list of questions that these application forms ask are ones prepared by psychos, I would like to think.

But what can be more illogical and frustrating than this. Friend applies for dependent visa of a European country [spouse is already abroad in that country working as a top honcho in a corporate office]. The embassy says no documents should be older than six months, which includes the marriage certificate and the birth certificate. This is hilarious! I think no one in India (or anywhere) can get a passport made without the birth certificate because your birth date is printed on the passport!

Now, every marriage certificate has a serial number and it falls on a certain date and signed by the registrar, so how does one get a new marriage certificate because the embassy wants one? So as a solution, my friend gets a copy of the certificate attested by the same registrar via the Ministry of External Affairs. The official route goes something like this: every document attested by the MEA has to have the signatures of the under secretary and above of the state from where the certificate has been issued. So it goes to the state, is verified by the ministry there and then sent back to the MEA. Knowing how slow official mail moves, it can be a neat one month before you have your papers from the MEA. Of course, my friend didn't choose the official route. A tout in Patiala House Delhi came to her rescue [courtesy a blog with information on the same] and at the cost of Rs 1800 per document, she gets her papers attested from the MEA in two hours.

So friend goes to the VFS of that embassy with the papers intact. The joker there says it still won't work because the date of the marriage is not six months old. Friend tells the dude, "How can I change the fact that I married three years ago. How can I re-register my wedding, which has already been registered?" Dude replies,"How are the others doing it?" Friend then yells at him,"I have no idea how others are doing it. But just because you have been trained to do something doesn't mean you will stop using your brains." After a long argument, the application is finally accepted. We are yet to hear from the embassy!

And this one is the heights of all things illogical -- the police verification, a farcical element in the whole process. Basically, it is to show that there is no judicial case against you in the past five years. And the certificate is to be taken from the place you are residing, where the complainant lives, where the case has been filed and where the cause of action has taken place. It could mean three or four different places. One could live in Patna but have a case filed against one in Mumbai. A character certificate is understandable, not this one!

Welcome to India in, what is called, the information age!

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