This story might not be new to anyone but after every 5 years when I expect things to have changed at least a bit, they are still the same in and out of our beloved passport office.
Left at 8 in the morning to make sure we hit the venue by 8.30 to avoid long queues. Surprised to find no parking spot nearby and were encountered by a guide who apparently stopped us from parking the car for NO reason. There was already a car parked near the gate and upon asking him he replied “YE SARKARI GAARI HAI” despite of the fact that there was no Government number plate on it! – So totally messed up. At last we found a parking spot and then entered the office. To my surprise there were more people than I expected in long queues outside what is called “Chalaan counter”. Rule Number 1. If you are two, both of you get in the line because you never know who lands at the counter first. Saves time.
After getting done with depositing cash, we went inside. Too much hassle at the photo/token counter. Found out that this lady who was from India with 2 kids was creating fuss all over the office and because of her the ladies’ line couldn’t move ahead. Rule number 2 : Don’t mess with such people and let them have your turn. Solves problem for everyone. Got the token, got the worst picture taken and left the counter with relief. Achievement No. 1 unlocked.
We had plenty of time to chill and roam around and get something to eat too so we went outside and had tea and biscuits and came back. Oh btw the interesting part of the story is ladies pondering thoughts over me and husband being siblings or plainly engaged as we looked “jawaan”. Moving on we discussed probably all of the wierdest things in life we have ever come across and yet we had time to kill. So we got garma garam chane and then went inside. I got super excited when the data entry counter displayed token number 217 as I was hopeful to get out of the place by 1.00 PM but to add to my sadness it was FRIDAY and all and sundry go for Namaz and it takes almost an hour to resume rest of the activities. So it was around quarter to 2 when everyone started coming in and life was back to hustle bustle in the beloved passport office. And it was the best time of the day when my name and token number was called out of the blue and without wasting a single moment, super scared of that Indian lady, I made a move and rushed to the counter to get my data verified and get my thumb prints on super awesome bio-metric machine. Upon asked by the LB officer about my profession, I mentioned Radio and he secretly asked me not to cover the whole Indian lady incident on media. Haaa!
Last but not the least I am grateful to the Assistant Director Sahab who passed me in today’s exam by saying “bachi ko jaane do”. And we rushed back to our car smelling fruits, crap, barbecue and shakar qandi.
I wish we could have at least some convenience for our Sarkari documents as these things matter to us at every point in life. You know this is one of the steps that will take us closer to our Government and may be we will start appreciating them for what they do for us. But Do remember, if you are nice to them, they will be nice to you too. Show some respect for the tedious work that they do verifying your credentials everyday making it possible for you to travel and meet your loved ones !