Patience,Perseverance and Passport office

Last week I had to visit the passport office in Mumbai. Before I left,my wife wished me good luck. I ignored it since I thought the matter was quite trivial. And I honestly expected it would be a non-event. As it turned out, I grossly underestimated our government officials’ capacity to come up with creative ways to harass people!
The purpose of my visit was simple and straight forward – a very minor correction in the name of my wife in her passport. Before embarking on the visit,I carefully went through the web site to collect all the relevant information on the nitty- gritties of the procedure. I further took the precaution of collecting some practical advice and info from people who had actually got it done earlier. We were told to take some or all of the following papers(more the documentary proof the better)showing the correct spelling of the name:
-the 10th or the SSLC certificate
-the marriage certificate
-PAN card
-Ration card
-Electoral roll card
-any other proof
We diligently completed all the paper work on the day before my visit to the passport office.

As I reached the passport office on the following day(which is a good one hour drive from our Mulund residence),I started walking past the security watchman guarding the gate. The watchman promptly stopped me and inquired of the purpose of my visit. I narrated in detail the purpose of my visit and asked him to direct me to the right place. He insisted on verifying my papers and asked me to show him the letter of authority. I asked him “what for?”. He said matter-of-factly that I can not submit somebody else’s application without an authority letter. So he questioned in ‘chaste’ Mumbai Hinglish – “authority laaya kya?” I nodded in the negative. I was completely caught unawares as I realized that this guy was not going to let me in without that god-damned letter of authority. At that point of time, he looked like the villain of the entire plot(bad guy of a Hindi movie!)out to undo all my good work! However,I was not willing to go back to Mulund empty handed.(It would be like getting eliminated in the first round itself to some ‘unseeded player’ as it happened to Sania Mirza in the U.S Open Tennis recently!).
Soon I recovered from the situation,quietly approached the watchman once again and asked him to give me more details of the procedure. He started off again with the same question “authority laaya kya?”. I replied,”laaya nahi;lekin aage bolo kya procedure hai?”. I told him that I should know the complete procedure before coming again. This time the watchman didn’t seem to have a ready answer. He simply asked me to go inside and make inquiry at a certain counter. I seized the opportunity and breezed through the door triumphantly. I knew that once I got an entry into the building I would find a way out. In fact that was what happened. As expected,I faced the very same objection at the counter,but I managed to see a senior officer in charge of the section and took a special permission to submit my application. Rest of the story was virtually uneventful.

The message of the story is that if ever you need to test someone’s patience and perseverance,you ought to give him an assignment to visit a passport office!

Published in: on September 10, 2009 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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