Thursday, September 20, 2007

The blue book

There is something about the Govt offices...whenever I enter one.. I am so filled with confusion and nervousness... which can't be expressed in words. Its probably just the reflection of how people working over there feel... neways... this blog is not to criticize our govt or public services... in fact if at all... this one should throw some good light on them...So without any further delay...I begin with my extra - ordinary journey to get my passport done!

The quest began sometime in 2004...after seeing some secret agent movie...may be one of the 'mission impossible' movies.... I was particularly intrigued by that colorful little books which our hero showed with great pride... and wondered ...Can I get one!!??

Anyways... many forms later... and after endless reminders from my family and friends... this time .. just before my term break... I took up the brave resolution.."is baar: aar... ya ...paar".. I will get my passport done.

5 days...1 task... too many obstacles!!! ...
Anyway like a true strategist and like the hero of that movie..I spent the first day testing the water... finding out which are the possible ways of getting a passport... quite confusing I must tell you... neways.. !!

By second day I was sure of the method... but needed some expert advice-"agents" before I could launch upon the daunting task.

Third day: I reached the passport office at around 10:30 am. The queue was around a kilometer long... but neways...I had to join it... so I stood there. I planned to get my passport done under tatkaal scheme, which would have got me my passport in just a day.
After an hour on the footpath of one of the busiest streets in kolkata as I entered, I very much expected to see a special reception committee for tatkaal..but well... there weren't any!! And then that good old confusion and nervousness gripped me... after many a question, and varied answers , I ended up in a queue which was probably longer than the last one- 'the queue to enquiry' Now you know I wasn't the only one confused!
Well it was a close run against the time..somehow the seconds always ticked away faster than the pace of our queue.. and just before the guy at counter slammed the 'gone for lunch' sign on my face..I could catch few key words- 'line starts at 4am', 'only 60 tokens per day', ' only token holder gets to apply', 'Annexure F and Annexure I are must!'
Rest of the day passed in familiarizing myself with the ways of getting affidavits from court and proving that I stayed in my house and nowhere else! Where else will I stay anyways!?!? and for what joy!??? But then they are dumb questions... so I prepared myself for the D-day!

Day 4: 4:30 am : I was racing through the empty streets of Kolkata. It gave me such a kick to drive through road at 80Kmph where under normal circumstances 40 Kmph seems like a bliss... which ,well once again, I can't describe in words. I pretty much assumed that I will be the first fool for the day.. only to find... there were more... some 25 more.. and worse still there were few from the fairer sex! Now that suddenly made a light glow in the heart of a 'seasoned single'! After getting myself a place in the queue... I started planning of ways to talk to 'them'. Just then my dad offered to take my place in the queue and asked me to rest for a while in the car. Well it was an offer I simply couldn't refuse... thought I will have enough time in the morning anyways... and Dad will return home by 6 .. and i will embark upon my dream innings!! ....
Morning came... dad returned... I came back to the line at 6:30 am fully awake and alert to face all kinds of delivery... only to find that the bowlers were happily sleeping !!!!! Now thats mean on the part of whoever is there up somewhere!! but... well what can u do anyways! So I started calling up my friends and woke them up ... derived a sweet sadistic pleasure from it...
At around 8:30 a newspaper wala came...I have never been happier seeing the newspaper in my life... while I was choosing a newspaper I noticed that 'they' were awake... then the manager in me got hold of me and I demanded in loud voice- "The Economic Times"..Poor newspaper vendor was at loss, he looked here and there hoping somebody would explain him that alien name, coz he was used to vernaculars or Telegraph or TOI. But I was adamant, as if I have never passed a single day without readin ET... but finally when the vendor was about to go having decided that I was a nut case...I steeped low down to TOI. This short stint was what they call as- "brand building exercise"...but to my despair with little or no visible effect!
Time passed as I flipped through the pages hoping for a miracle... but none happened. I duly collected my token... went inside ... started arranging my documents only to realise I had left some back at home!!!!!! Now why does this always happen to me!!!??? WHY???
Neways ... post a mad - rash driving through the busy roads of kolkata..pleading to the guy across the counter ...another bout of nervousness and 2 hour later.. I had submitted my form and collected the receipt and also got the great news- delivery date for passport- very next day!

So next day like a student waiting for his final marks I paced up and down the room till my name was announced! Finally at 6: 06: 15 pm... I got to touch my passport for the first time... It was a prized possession... enough to make anyone on this wide planet jealous... it was my treasure .... 'my precious'!!!