Operation Passport !

Operation Passport !!

For me getting the passport was nothing short of an operation. My enemy was the bureaucracy and my ally was god and god helps only those who help themselves! And so, the bugle sounded… war….
It all began with a sudden fortune; we were to go to Thailand at short notice. I remembered that my passport had expired early that year and a half attempted process of renewal was shelved with the attitude “Where am I ever going abroad?” So when this opportunity actually arrived, ‘the better half’ earnestly got down to it and filled the online renewal form. We got the appointment date to submit the documents on a date nearly 2 weeks later, you see, the week was interspersed with a few Government holidays and a few working days in between. 
Hubby dear had to rush off to get his own papers in order, some frantic calls told me that I should go and try to get an appointment for a date earlier and thus began the visits to ground Zero

Monday…  After finishing the household chores I reached the Passport office, time 1130 hrs. It was milling with people, I struggled to park the car at an appropriate place, ya ya.. You know… women and car and parking! oh! by the way I was quite proud of the way I parked, in fact if I had time I would have gone all round the car admiring the scene. Anyways….

I saw a long queue at the gate. I pretended they were standing there for some other purpose and with an innocent, bordering on ignorant, face I entered the gate only to be stopped by the policeman a little ahead. A smattering of Telugu followed which I heard out with interest!. then informed him that I could not follow even a single word of what he had just said. “I just want to know whether..” I started to say and he stopped me right there and asked me to go to the other entrance and talk to the PRO.

Me, my yellow bag and files took the walk to the other gate. I was mustering the same innocent face when the guard stopped me even before entering why?..1200hrs no more entry he informed, I showed him the watch and said its only 1155hrs. “Come tomorrow, come tomorrow” was all I got from him. Still I hung around giving exasperated looks, it didn’t work on the guard it sure did on the touts around the gate. They swarmed me with single liners, “making passport ma..dum? Renewal?” No problem madum”....One day in hand passport madum”. I ignored them with purposeful strides went home making plans on how to leave the house early the next day and get this over with

Tuesday…An enthusiastic me reached the gate at sharp 0845hrs and upon entering saw a queue .I asked “I need to talk to the PRO, Is this the queue for that? I got a shrug for a reply. I went ahead asking people in the queue. Can, you believe nobody knew for what they were standing!
Finally I saw a policeman he informed me that first I need to stand in this queue, the person on the counter will give an “Ok” to talk to the PRO. No harm, I went back to the end of the queue and joined it. One by one I told everyone that yes, this was the right Q for whatever reason they were here.
A friendly banter ensued amongst us, we all felt like we belonged to one family as we moved ahead sharing our woes regarding our Passports. I gathered a lot of knowledge about what all can happen in the process of getting one correct passport.
I reached the counter and informed that I wanted to speak to the PRO.I showed the online request form and my appointment date and said I wanted the date brought ahead as I needed the passport urgently. “Even if the Minister himself comes and asks for it, it cannot be done, you cannot meet the PRO” he said and returned the file and took on the next person. I was left standing; he refused out right to allow me to meet anybody at all.
A dejected me left the office. Almost immediately the touts started following muttering “making passport ma..dum? Renewal?” ”No problem”..”One day in hand passport madum”. I thought lets see what they say .I told them my problem .The person concerned looked through the forms and the certificates and said everything was in order .He hurried to an office across the street and checked the computer screen and said “If you had come yesterday I could have given an appointment for today now next two days are holidays .Appointment is possible only on Friday now. It will cost Rs5000 plus the cost of other routine charges. Passport will be in your hand on Wednesday” But I wanted it done the right way, why should I pay Rs 5000?

Monday…Me, my yellow bag and files and my husband in his shining uniform went again to try and talk to the PRO. We were able get through the gate and reach the office of the PRO. The PRO gave us a look filled with loathsome ( you know , the kind of men who always look disgruntled ) and we had not even said or done anything to invite that. We waited for our turn and approached him. He looked at the form and said “Come on the date mentioned”. “Next...” ( Case dismissed?...)We felt helpless. Where to go next? What to do? An awful feeling of dejection descended upon me.

Friday …Went for the appointment, showed all the certificates and the old passport. Address proof etc etc. The form was accepted everything was in order “Please pay the money at counter B and collect your passport on Wednesday evening 1630hrs” I felt so happy and rushed to pay the money. While paying up I asked the gentleman just to be doubly sure, when I would be getting my Passport, he said on Wednesday. I asked “Will I get it from this counter? He said “Go and ask the PRO”

Wednesday…. both of us arrived and waited in the queue well ahead of time 1530hrs. We saw files being carried like trash, papers falling here and there, some files reaching the wrong counter. The site was totally alarming.
One by One the names were called out, smiling faces accepted them and moved out. 1900hrs I was still waiting straining my ears to hear Indu Srinivasan. I didn’t. I started to get that familiar sinking feeling. "Ajay Khanna...Mrs...Shabana Begum........Kuttan......."..and on and on....it went. Three hours went by, I was tired and  close to tears with the sheer exhaustion of just waiting, .My name was not called out at all. A list arrived with names of persons whose Passport was not made. They were to meet the PRO the next day. No reason was given. My name was there on that list . Anger simmered inside me. If this was so why was the list not displayed right in the beginning? Why were we made to wait for 4hrs for nothing? We couldn't ask or do anything at all, all the office personnel had long gone and left.

          There was total silence on our way back in the car. A deafening silence.

Thursday….After gaining some knowledge from friends, as to how to go about meeting the Pass Officers.We reached the Passport office and put this newly  acquired knowledge to use. We sent a request for appointment at a nondescript gate for meeting the Passport officer. The passport officer arrived leisurely at 1130 hrs and started meeting people. Our turn came. In his massive room I felt small, almost minuscule. He took and heard us out and he asked us to meet Ms Secy . “It will be done” he said. We met up with the Secy .She tapped on the keyboard and said there seems to be no problem .You will probably get it tomorrow. We explained to her again about how urgently we required it as we had to leave on Saturday night, so if there was any document missing we could submit it . She promised that if there was a problem she would call and let us know so that we could do whatever was required and if she did not call it would mean that I would get it. We did not get the call.

Friday I arrived alone and asked at the counter, they said my passport was not ready. I called up Ms Secy’s number several times, an hour later a lady replied and said that Ms Secy wasn’t on her seat .I told her how she had said that I would definitely get my passport today and I hadn’t .After a lot rustling noises I got the reply that there was some problem. I asked what problem? She said some police verification wasn’t complete in my old passport. I asked if that was so then how come I got the old passport. She had no reply .She cut the call and refused to answer any of my calls.

          I did not get to go with the lucky ladies of the group heading to Thailand,

After much fighting, meeting the Passport officer again , meeting Ms Secy again teary eyed, with a lot of help from friends of well wisher, who did not even know me and  by standing dharna at the gates of Passport Officer without food and water, I finally got the Passport on Tuesday 1630hrs. Strangely I didn't feel the happiness I only felt the exhaustion.
I got the foreign exchange with the help of another friend. I begged and convinced the travel agent to help me get on that flight to Thailand .Reaching the airport also wasn’t easy for me as the driver got confused ,lost his way and finally got a harried me at the Shamshabad Airport Hyderabad ‘late but safe’ I boarded the Flight to Thailand, Wednesday midnight. Reached early morning Thursday, a good five days late!

Moral: Just get that Passport made.



  1. Same pinch. I struggled the same way in Hyderabad to get my passport that too with a very short notice to join my hubby darling for an award function. My husband said that he is too busy and shall not be in a position to help me in this. Luckily being a teacher, managed a parent and got it via Tatkal though it was late by a day or two. I thanked my stars, my position in my school helped me get it within a week....Lakshveny

  2. Well, if Saina Nehwal, the badminton champ could be made to run around in order that she can go play for our country, we are small fries!


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