Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Return of the Passport Ordeal -- Success

To recap, I had a short term validity passport which was expiring in December 2010. I had to get it renewed, before I left for the US. 

Yesterday, after 3 months of tension, running around government offices, standing in queues, bribing people (also known as: helping others help me; chai-paani; fees; mithai ke paise), I finally got the passport in my hands. It's now valid till 2015.

In most cases any government process (sarkaari kaam) is slow. It has always been slow. And it always will be slow. People, including me, never want to realize that. We are still living in a dream that India has gotten technologically advanced, and all that advancement has trickled into the place known as the government office. Making it a fast, streamlined, well-oiled organization. Not so.

The government office is a part of the Indian Experience, but something which can very easily get you frustrated.

The frustration is especially evident in the queues. These long, slow moving lines are filled with tension, anger, and a ton of ideas on improving productivity. Of course, the ideas only apply to people on the other side of the counter -- the government officials. Few of the ideas which I have noted:
  1. Everything should computerized! -- People say this even if a major portion of the task is in fact computerized. 
  2. There should be more counters! -- Evidently, so that there can be more queues and more ideas.
  3. Wow this guy is so slow, he should learn typing -- Something which I always think when I'm in a queue.
The other frustrating aspect of the queue, other than the endless wait, are the queue jumpers. These people will innocently meander near the front of the queue, their honest intention being only to ask a question or talk to a non-existing friend. Very soon, they are ahead of you. You ask them, to go back. And they say, that they have always been there in front; also, you are a liar and are creating a ruckus.

In my experience, women jump queues more often than men. Maybe these women feel that there is no explicit women's line, and are just correcting that mistake. But I guess the reason, men don't jump queues that often is because they will get beaten up. Women, not so.

But after dealing with all the queues, the people, the wait, the heat and humidity, the dripping AC, the rude security guard, when you finally get what you want, it's some feeling. Till 2015. Bye bye passport office.