Monday, July 03, 2006
Who cares if its been a while. Maybe I just didn't have the time.
In anycase, I happened to goto the local Passport Office in Bangalore on Burton Street today and boy oh boy did I have to write about my experience. This is one thing that I don't want to forget so soon.
Right from the second I got there, I could just figure out that I was going to get swindled for my time and money, even if I choose to do it the legal way. So I wake up early cause someone was kind enough to tell me to get my ass there early in the morning, like before 8:30 types, so I could get myself a nice place in the already 300 feet long queue that had formed outside the office. So I parked my bike in this vacant site which had a board that read "Parking" and pointed to the left. I obeyed and parked my bike there when suddenly this stupid ugly looking fart walks up to me with a conductor bag slung around his shoulder and he tells me in Kannada "5 Rupees for 1 hour saar". Again, I had no choice. I had to park there considering the nearest parking was a good kilometer away and on the other side of the road and 4 people had already added their fat bodies to the 300 feet long queue. 5 fucking bucks for 1 hour. Now I remember when I used to pay 1 buck, 2 bucks max to park on the busiest roads of Bangalore and I used to almost always find parking and today I have to pay 5 fucking bucks for an hour. I ended up paying 30 in total. For parking. Now really. FUCK THAT MAN!!!
Then I went to the friendly neighbourhood Xeror Shop. Funny how that name came about. No one in Bangalore will say "Go get this photocopied". Instead they'll say "Go xerox it". Which works well for Xerox mind you. Anyways, so the guy at the Xerox shop photocopies the front and back pages of my passport and charges me 10 fucking bucks for 4 sheets of paper. I didn't want to argue. I had no choice.
I walked to the passport office with my bag and helmet in hand and I am suddenly surrounded by some 20 men trying to sell me the option of getting myself right in front of the already 350 feet long queue. I refuse each and every one of them cause I know most of the gimmicks wont work. Yeah right, who the fuck am I kidding. But we'll get to how to work your way around the system later.
So I stand in the queue only to be told by a disgruntled police man who loves his job way too much that I am in the wrong fucking queue and that I need to go and stand at the queue that had formed at the back of the passport office. Oh yeah, I am supposed to know that right? What with all the information boards erected all over the office. Fucking nitwits don't have anybody giving you any information there and everyone you ask seems to know more than you. Or has travelled more than you. Who gives a fuck. I just want to get my work done with and get the fuck out of there at the earliest. I aint there to make friends. I aint there to get married. I am there to get my fucking passport work done.
Anyways, somehow I find the "right" queue and then pick up a Misc. Enquires form from one old man who charged me 5 bucks for it, which I had to borrow from someone considering I didn't have any change on me and that old man didn't want to break a 100 for me. Anyways, I paid the guy back later. So its all good. When filling the form, something struck me, like that ball hitting the pigeon on the baseball field during that Yankees game. *Poof*
Now here I am. A grown man, with a valid passport and all I wanted to do is get my fucking photograph changed cause apparently some authorities liked to see a more recent photograph on my passport when I leave the country. Yet, these dimwits have to put you through all this. They ask a million questions that are totally irrelevant to anything that your there to do on that form, yet you have to fill it up. I did just that. Filled it up.
Then I stood in the queue for 3 hours. It hardly moved. There was an old man standing in front of me who made small conversation with the young software engineers behind me who were all there to get their ECNR done. I couldn't care less. Didn't want to talk to anyone. But imagine their plight. They are there to get some ECNR done and its not merely as complicated as say, changing a passport photograph. Yet they have to wait in a queue for 3 hours, pay 300 buck, make small talk with old men who seem to want to brag about how they cracked a deal for some shit loads of money in China just last week and how they knew some IAS officer who travelled with him to Germany or some crap like that. I say, they don't give a damm at that office. They'll take your form. Laugh while reading it, blow their nose next to their table. Drink some water and stamp your passport. Just like that.
Then why the fuck should cut work, stand in a queue, make small talk and all that jazz? Fuck the system.
Anyways, after a long 3 hours of standing that I am not used to doing (come on, its not like I stand for 3 hours at a stretch, everyday. What the fuck am I? A farm animal?) I get near that prison gate that they have at the side of the passport to enter the place and go and meet the officer when that Policeman (who btw is friends with all the 20 mother fuckers who surrounded me at 8:30 in the morning) stops me at that gate saying "Saar, irii, full iddhay". That basically means, "Wait you dimwit, its full". I obey!
Suddenly one of those shady 20 guys brings one ugly man who wants to get some PPC done at the office and says "Namavaruu" to the police man and suddenly the policeman takes his finger, points it at the sky, shakes his hips and takes that man inside while I, and the other 80 people are still waiting our turn. Now hold on there mister, what the fuck was that I said to myself. When I asked that cop what the fuck he just did, he said, he had come earlier and that he had gone out to buy or xerox something and that I could go in as well before I made more noise and started something that would affect his moral job. I just laughed, went it, told that ugly man to stand behind me, else I would report the matter to the Passport Officer on top and he just moved. So, those 20 mother fuckers do work. They can pull strings apparently.
Anyways, so i just stood in another queue for sometime. Now the old man was telling the software engineers about property rates in Devanhalli. Those guys must be cursing the guy in English, which I am sure he don't understand too well judging by the superb English he was entertaining them with. In any case, some 20 minutes of waiting later, I am told to show my papers to this man who sticks an orange sticker on my form and tells me to go and sit down and wait for my token number to be called.
That happens in excatly another 10 minutes. I go there and tell this other man at Counter 8A that I wanted to get my passport photograph changed and also have the new passport reflect my new address and the man tells me that it'll take 40 days.
40 fuckin days to change a photograph and issue it with a new address, which btw I've got an affidavit for and also submitting originals of a telephone bill and the Ration Card that has my name on it as well. But no, 40 fucking days.
I don't have 40 fucking days. Is there anything else I can do, I say.
Sure he says. Tatkaal or some crap like that.
I said yeay, tatkaal it is. Work me the deal will ya mister.
He says, wait... in a hush hush tone.
Then he gives all my papers to another lady sitting behind him and says "Tatkaal"
She looks at me, looks at the papers, writes some stuff, looks at me, leaves the small enclosure, walks up a staircase, comes back, sits down, looks at me, looks at another one of my papers (my offer letter from a Univ abroad), looks at her water bottle, looks at me, adjusts her glasses, speaks to her friend - the guy who put that orange sticker on my application, looks at me, writes something in Zulu on the last page of my application and says "Gs mez Jass Maiah" or some crap like that.
I say, "Uh??"
That man who said tatkaal in that hush hush tone to her says "Go meet the Asst. Passport Officer". Phew, I say and ask for directions. He points upward. I take the stairs. Get to the Asst. Passport Officers office and do the formalities.
This man is the only dignified man in the whole office. Alteast so it seemed. He spoke very well. Signed my form. Told me to come on the 5th and to collect my new passport.
I say thank you. He says, go down and pay the Tatkaal fees. I obey!
I went down. The cow who kept looking at me told me that I have to pay 2,500 bucks cause it was Tatkaal. I obeyed.
2,500 bucks to change a passport photograph, which I paid and got clicked at a GK Vale in bangalore with my money. 2,500 bucks to issue a black booklet with a few sheets of paper in a days time.
Really, who the fuck are we kidding. The fucking retards at that office need that much money to move their asses and finish it in 2 days time. Else, it takes 40 days apparently.
Getting from the queue to the counter = 3 hours
Getting the actual work done = 20 mins max
Money cant buy me love. It sure can buy me a new passport with a new photograph and my new address. Yay!
Fuck the system.