Yes! I have finally submitted my application for a passport. I am 24. I know, it’s rather dismal in this globalised world. But that makes the achievement even sweeter… at least for me.
But this post is not about today. Four days ago I stood in a line for 5 hours only to be told I didn’t have the required documents. But wait we are running too fast into the story. Let’s begin from the beginning…
After much pleading, reasoning, and threatening my mum and bhabi had given up on me – “this boy’s never going to get his passport!” Many years later, I suddenly found inspiration to fill in the passport application. I went to the website, filled out the info, took the printouts, and then set about seriously collecting the necessary documents (it was a proud moment for my mum).
My appointment was at 12.45 p.m. I took meticulousness to new levels and reached the passport office at Worli, on time. The security person at the entrance calmly informed me that appointments didn’t matter and I’d still have to stand in the line. Ha! I was expecting this. Out came my Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I was standing in the line for Counter No. 1. The line was not too big – around 25 people were standing before me. Now, the passport office is pretty big, but needs to be even bigger to accommodate the number of people who come applying for passports. Compared to other government offices, it is much more streamlined. There is a Coffee Day stall inside the main hall where you can fill in on your dose(s) of chai or coffee or cold coffee and also have light snacks.
Now I have never liked Star News… in fact, I despise it thoroughly. But when the TV is on mute and you have 5 hours of waiting to do, the channel can be very entertaining. The first one hour was dedicated to ‘Things Gone wrong for Matadors’. I don’t know how many people enjoy watching a bull’s horn attacking a man’s hind, but I. for sure, count myself in. The next program, Saas Bahu Aur Saajhis (Mother-in-law Daughter-in-law & Conspiracy), was dedicated to the saas-bahu serials. No comments. And that’s when it happened.
BREAKING NEWS! ALIEN SIGHTING REPORTED IN KARNAL!!! I immediately called up my friend, “Dude, there is an alien sighting reported in Karnal!”. My friend asked a poignant, but rather inappropriate, question at this point – “Where is Karnal?” I replied, Himachal Pradesh (I was near accurate. Karnal is in Haryana).
Meanwhile my mind was racing. Which planet were these aliens from? Were they hostile or friendly? More importantly, would the passport I was applying for at this moment be useful for inter-stellar journeys. I decided to ask the official at the window … just to make sure. The hours slipped by significantly faster after this.
Soon I was 3 people away from the counter. The lady who had just reached the counter was asked to go to a different passport office as the area she lived in fell in a different district. Near tears, the woman quietly disappeared. The next person in line didn’t have the necessary documents. The next two people too got the same treatment. Now, some of you might have noticed, that included me.
The choicest of bad words hurtled from my brain outwards. Wisely, I kept the mouth shut. For once, the government was not to blame. Four days later, I went and submitted the form – this time with all the necessary documents. Now if the police don’t find any criminal offences against me (I only hope they don’t meet my mum who think waking up beyond 8.00 is a criminal offence), I should be getting my passport within 60 days.
By the way, I figured out that aliens or not, the Indian passport would not help me. See, to travel from one planet to another would require a ‘Planetary-level’ passport. And the American government currently is not in a mood to give any passports to foreigners, especially Asians. In the mean time, for all inter-stellar journeys there is always the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…