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Mad Rush

After shopping malls, the most crowded place in Delhi is, I think, the passport office. The queues here run parallel to the roads and back and beyond. You wonder, if the entire population is leaving the country like the migratory birds of Siberia. After having failed to lure anyone to stand in the queue on my behalf, I finally made it to passport office, two days in a row, and submitted my documents. Hopefully I should get a new passport by this weekend. This is something I had postponed for August, ideally, but the drive to go to the PP office was coerced by a couple of missed foreign 'junkets'. Missed Germany and missed Singapore twice, because my damn passport expires in October and to travel abroad, the PP should have a validity of at least six months. Tsk, tsk! Don't understand this, in the way I don't understand a lot of other things in life.

If one is applying for a re-issue of one's passport, and mind you, this is different from getting a fresh passport, here are a few tips. The new rules, thankfully, have not been made by morons and so do not require tons of paperwork. All you need is the main form, two annexures – f and i , and four photos. No attested certys, no other paper. I am talking about Tatkal. But in case you have changed your address in the past two years, then you need TWO things, though the website mentions only one, [which is why I had to waste two days.] You need an employer letter stating your address, a ration card or and any telephone/bank statements that has the current address. Also, of course, if you have changed your name or gotten married in the meantime, then of course you need the papers supporting that. Don't go by what the touts or people tell you on hearsay. I almost got fooled. Though armed with all the info, I did the moronic thing of listening to an idiot who held out a piece of paper and said it was a must {found out later it was for lost pps) and almost broke my queue, till good sense prevailed and I thought I would tackle the left overs at the counter.

So at the counter, a grumpy clerk will check all your papers and put his stamp of approval. If he is not satisfied, he will ask you for more proof of authenticity! Then you join another queue where the papers are counter verified, and then the final queue to pay the fees. I asked the cashier when I would get my new passport and he replied, "Seven days." Ensued a small argument:
"Your website says three days for re-issue and seven days for fresh passport."
"Saheb se baat karlo [speak to an officer]."
"Then, why should I pay the huge sum of fees [Rs 2,500]?"

Finally, he muttered something, scratched a new date and keyed it in his computer. Everyone wants to take everyone for a ride in this country, even for something which is rightfully yours. With my acknowledgement slip in hand, I walked out of the passport office in exactly four hours. The only good thing, I finished Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Of Love and Other Demons while at the queue.


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