SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2009
Ye hai India meri jaan! My friends said…So very true! My daughter had got an internship in Ukraine and needed a passport within a week. I was advised to go for the Tatkal scheme and asked to get my daughter back home. She studies in Delhi. Well, flew her down from Delhi, then she doesn’t get a ticket on the train or any bus. Late night she travels on an ordinary RTC bus in this blistering heat and gets home. In the morning we get ourselves to the commissioner’s office along with the necessary documents.
We were asked to wait and then summoned to fill the form. The form cost 1000 bucks and the official gave it to us so grudgingly, as if he was doing us a favour.Form filling over, corrected, then sent to another official incharge.He told us that a particular policeman would come home for verification. He then called the allotted policeman and asked him when he would visit us. To my surprise he asked us to be back to the commissioners office within 2 hours.[Pssst…I thought police verification was done at the home and neighbors too are asked to testify!]
After 2 hours we again showed up at the Police commissioner’s office. The said policeman took us to a separate room and asked us our neighbor’s names and address…..and the cheeky guy asked my daughter. ..”Couldn’t you get a better picture of yourself?” Anyway…so much for the highly touted verification! My friends had a different tale to tell. They had said just pay him off Rs.200….but then I offered him 500 and he asked for 500 more! I hated myself for greasing his palms but I had no choice. He then sends us to my local police station for the Inspector’s signature.
We have a quick lunch and i have a catnap and am jolted awake by Esha, my daughter. Time for the police station! My first visit to one and it turned out to be a seedy place, where one constable was chewing tobacco and oozing it out, while a lady constable walked in with 2 bottles of country liquor! The time-just about 5pm.The writer writes out the document but the Inspector is nowhere in sight. We are asked to come again at 8.30pm. He said he needed a copy of the paper and I said i would get it done. He says it was ok and that he would get it done. Suddenly he asked -Why only ladies have come. My blood boiled but I put a grin on my face and gnashed–What difference does it make?
Back home again and waiting for the clock to strike. At 8.30 he called to say that we be there after 9.We were supposed to go out for dinner! Anyways, once at the station, there were almost a 100 constables in the dingy little room listening to the Commissioner giving instructions on the radio. The writer didn’t get the Xerox copy… he sent somebody. At that hour..Another wait and then it is signed and after handing over he asks me to talk to the policeman who had done the verification! I had to dole out another 200 bucks. One hurdle crossed! Now next we had to be in Hyderabad on Monday morning. It was Saturday that day. No tickets available-train or bus. We took the driver and the car and drove down on Sunday afternoon. We were asked to be at the passport office at 7 in the morning. I was in deep slumber when the alarm went off but I woke up with a jerk and just about managed to reach there by 7.The queue was a mile long already. We had to get an attested document called Annexure I, sold outside the office. A guy came and offered to get me one. I heard it cost 100 rupees, but I had to shell out 400. Then for a quicker entry, another 400 to the policeman on duty… at last went in, got the token and the time given was 10 to 10.30am.Back for breakfast and then rush back to the office. She went in and the sadistic official found a flaw in her birth certificate. She had her original 10th and 10+2 but he refused to even look at them. And he asked us to get back with a new birth certificate. Easier said than done, isn’t it. Got that done with great difficulty and the next day again the queue and token and time saga continued. Time given was 11 to 11.30 and this time the lady official inside barely glanced at the papers and stamped them, while the official of the day before was laughing raucously.Rs 2500 for the passport fee and it was to be collected on the 5th.We drove back home in the Honda city which guzzled petrol worth 2800 bucks! Nonetheless, the job is done.5th morning Esha takes a train to Hyderabad and collects her precious Passport in the evening and takes a flight back to Delhi on 6th morning. She is filing her visa papers and will fly to Ukraine on the 15th.
This is Indian bribery and corrupt officials at their vicious best! Talk about being taken for a ride. I was riding a rollercoaster and was scared that I would fall off! My pocket is surely lighter but my heart is really heavy with the attitude of the bureucracy.It could have been a terrorist getting a passport but then who cares as long as they are raking in the moolah! 😦