My initial choice of topic heading for this post was ”How to fool people and cheat them” so you get the idea, rite? J
So I needed to get my passport renewed.
Now the normal way of getting it done was find an agent, allow him to fool you, pay him money for it, allow him to fool you more, pay him more money for it and after that, repeat process again and again till you’re satisfied with the fooling and the money giving. How do I know this? Well, how do you think I got my driving license? J
Now, my passport would expire in August and my friend’s wife is pregnant and due in October. So how is it related? Oh it is.
- Point no 1: Since my friend’s wife is being taken to her parents in July, he will be living a bachelor’s life again from July to December.
- Point no 2: Since he lives in Dufai (also known as Dubai amongst non mallus; else it has always been ‘Dufai’), the house that he and his wife lovingly built (knowing him, I’m sure its only his wife who built it; he was just probably drinking beer and complaining bout the damn TV reception. No wonder we’re friends J)… anyways, like I was saying, his house is free and (ok, here it comes, background music rising)… he has invited moi to spent a week of bachelor fun in the Dufai with him.
- Point no 3: My passport expires in August and I can’t travel hence. So I need a new passport.
- Point no 4: Damn.
- Point no 5: Damn again.
- Point no 6: Damn. (I just like saying ‘Damn’J.. it’s my second most popular word after the ‘f’ word. And of course, Beer. J)
So I needed to get my passport renewed.
Now in Bangalore, the process is that you need to go online, download an application form, complete it and upload it again and schedule an appointment(that’s online too). At the appointment, you need documents to prove that you exist – mostly address proof, that’s all. Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, like they say the devil is in the details; and the devil and I have been fighting ever since he took Silk Smitha away from me . It was fairly easy downloading the form (maybe my extensive years of downloading porn seems to be finally helping). Filling the form too was comparatively easier too (I’ve always was good at copying from one paper to another – my degree certificate stands testimony to that fact). But after that, it’s hell. The damn (lovely word, ain’t it?) site doesn’t open after that. I keep trying to upload the completed forms and well, the damn site simply does not open. Finally, after a week of trails and tribulations, it just opened and I was able to finally upload the completed application form. Now I needed to schedule a meeting. That’s where the damn site started to take over my life. I started waking up early morning at 9(!) just to schedule an appointment and I was never able to. The damn (lovely word, ain’t it?) site doesn’t open. They even had a toll free number, which I whole heartedly abused.
Now, I love toll free numbers. I always like chatting up with women on toll free numbers - its free and they’re the only women in my life who do not hang up after 30 seconds of talking with me. If it’s a guy, I usually practice my bad language with them – So toll free numbers always used to spice up my (non-existent) love life and spruce up my (non-intelligia) linguistic skills. So, they tell me that it’s my browser’s fault and I needed to download Mozilla or the latest version of IE to upload my form. The other crazy thing that they told me was that they only accept government forms as proof of address- so I needed to have either a public gas connection (mine’s private – damn!), or a BSNL landline phone bill address proof (mine’s Airtel – damn!) or a public bank statement with address (mine’s ICICI – damn!). So essentially, even if I uploaded the form on the site, the passport office will not accept any of my documents as proof of address. In their view, they shared the same view that all my old teachers shared - that I simply don’t exist. My dream of going to Dufai seemed that it would remain a dream only.
So then enter my cousin who said that if you’ve spent more than the last five years in Kerala, you can apply for the passport there. So we got another agent in Kerala, and I told him I needed to go immediately to Dubai. He confidently said “Dan’t werrry saaar, you will go to Dufai soon. My ungle is ollso….” . He made my application forms, told me that I needed to go to the Kochi Passport office early morning at 4 and stand in the queue. Since my address is the same as in my earlier passport and I have a valid US visa, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
So we did as he told, stood in Kochi Passport center from 4 AM. There are lot of other agents there who try to capitalize on your ignorance. We had one agent telling somebody that the ‘place of birth’ column always had to have the word ‘Kerala’ written in it.. even if he was born in Bhopal!!! Another guy was born in Kerala but did not have the word ‘Kerala’ written so the agent said that his application would be rejected. The panicked person requested the agent to help and the agent wrote the word ‘Kerala’ in his application letter and charged him 200 bucks for the same. Finally, the counter opened, I gave in my application. It was not too difficult and the officials were quite helpful. A week later, I even had a successful police verification (they didn’t recognize me :P). And finally, I got my passport renewed (This time, I got a better pic too J).
So I tell my friend in Dufai that all is done and that I’m coming over to help him relive his bachelorhood days and he sez that he changed plans and that he’s relocating back to Kerala.