Friday, December 16, 2011

Spaniard Tilts at Bureaucratic Windmills

Actually, don't Get. Me. Started.

It's worse than sitting in a hospital waiting to see a doctor. At least there you can arrive at 8.45 for a 10.30 appointment and expect to get a decent breakfast and a place to sit indoors.

At the passport office, a whole day in the Inquiries queue earns you an appointment to see the RPO (other variations include DPO and PRO; one of the letters stands for Passport and the other for Officer. The third is irrlelevant) on a given date, with the (misleading and false) assurance that you don't need to wait in line; you just need to turn up at the given time and see the man in charge.


Anyone with a bit of sense interprets this as 'Be there as soon as you wake up'.

I have turned up at the passport office five mornings since November, at approximately 7.15 am. I stand in the Apoointments Only line, and if I'm lucky I'm number 6 or 7. More often, I'm 11 or 15. We stand in the sun, sit on bits of paper or move in and out of this line until 9 am, when a bunch of cops come out and organise the line in the usual way - with a red lathi. Fights break out in the other, longer line, where people have been waiting since last night. Agents work the line, picked out the susceptible and sometimes get caught. Money changes hands, often not even discreetly.

Remember: all this is only to make inquiries and show up for appointments; this passport office no longer takes applications, so these queues are not even in order to submit forms. They are for people who want to know why their passports haven't turned up after three, six, twelve months or longer.

Ten am sees us inside, with little chits of paper that decides in what order we see the RPO/PRO/DPO. These are meaningless, because there's another line of people that the cops call VIPs: they have letters from IPS/IAS/MLA type people.

If your serial number is 11, say, you can reasonably expect to wait until 2 pm to see the man, and you can almost certainly expect to be told that your file cannot be found. This is what has been happening to me for the last three appointments. I wait in line from 7.15 am only to be told, some six or seven hours later that I need to come back another day when they will have my file.

This, dear readers, is how Spaniard gets homicidal. Spaniard is A Knight with Very Little Patience. Oh, wait. I'm mixing books up, aren't I?

This is also why I have no energy and want to curl up in bed with a trashy book and oranges and chocolate. Escapism has a function if this is what short-term reality looks like.

(Anyone wanting to send me trashy books, oranges, chocolate, sympathy and valid passports, please get in touch).

So how's your end-of-the-year treating you?


Aishwarya said...

I will get right on it. (Trashy books - I cannot manage the passport thing)

dipali said...

Ouch. Mine was renewed without any major hassles-still have some years to go before it expires. But this sounds torturous. All the best.

Banno said...

Trashy books in lieu of valid passport is the only way to go. Plus you get to indulge in chocolates.

km said...

A passport? Ha, learn astral travel.