Since the last call from HCI London representative I’ve been occupied with my personal life, job search and have been struggling to survive in recession time.
Passport renewal was always with me in the back of my mind constantly haunting me.
In my busy schedule I managed to get time to visit HCI London office on 28th April 2010, 53 days after I’ve submitted my application for Passport Re Issue.
This time I was ready for the chaos and have already imagined that I’ve to go through physical torture again.
I started early so that I could be there before 3:30 PM. Why 3:30 PM? On my receipt it was written that I had to visit HCI London office to collect my passport on 10th May 2010. So I assumed that their collection counter must be opening from 3:30 PM.
It was warm sunny day it was not so sunny but it was warm, in recent days Sun has been shining over London and officially Spring has arrived.
I reached at HCI London office around 3:10 PM, to my surprise there was no queue, only few Indians were scattered outside the building who I guessed could be the relatives.
I paced to the pearly gate and it was open too. I said WOW and was relaxed to know that there wouldn’t be any physical hardship of queuing outside Bharat Bhavan.
Inside there were 3-4 people guarding the pearly gate. All of them were North Indians, some of them were suited booted so I couldn’t guess if they were visitors like me or HCI workers or Chaparasis.
I stood there for some time waiting for anyone to pay attention as all of them were looking at the Security Camera screen trying to spot birds…
Eventually one paid attention and I showed the white receipt and said Passport Enquiry. He asked me to open my bag which I did. He looked in it and found pack of Sesame seed bars. Thinking that it might be “chatai Bomb” he took it out and examined closely. Disappointed after not finding anything suspicious he put it back and let me go.
Inside it was packed. Not as packed as it was on my first pilgrimage. People were sitting some standing, all confused, scene was as usual. I could here North Indians cracking jokes. All counters were closed.
Before I could march further, I found Gurkha standing near passport counter. He asked yes and I showed white receipt. He took it and trucked it below the stack of receipts he was holding.
“Yeh number laga diya hai, jab number ayega to call hoga” he muttered, I understood and proceeded to grab an empty seat towards the opt her side.
I had about 15 min tues to kill, so I got myself busy in playing my favourite Brick Breaker game while pumping bhangra.
Around 3:30 PM one of the passport counters opened and they started to call people one by one. I was lost in breaking bricks so I didn’t realize that counter is opened. After 5 minutes or so when I lifted my head to check the counter like Meerkat checks for enemies I found the show has started. I shifted to the vacant seats opposite Passport counter and waited for my turn.
Behind the counter there was another lady this time. I could see that the South Indian Buffalo (no offence to her appearance but all curse to her laziness) is doing some paper sorting inside.
Processing was quite fast. As names were being called people were being handed over an envelope with passport(s) in it.
On the adjacent counter, which was OCI counter, they were handing over the passports too. I didn’t know what the hell is OCI. I was trying to crack this another enigma code which I gave up after some effort. I knew PIO but what is OCI?
OCI stands for Overseas Citizen of India as I discovered later. I haven’t dug it deeper as I’m not interested in it at this point of time.
The scene at OCI counter was typical. People were standing in the queue despite having red tokens in their hands which were numbered. So all they had to do is to wait for their roll call and attend the counter but as usual Indians are Indians and donkey habits never fades away.
I was more tuned to OCI counter as it has some entertainment going on there rather than Passport counter which was dull.
One OCI (the new status symbol after NRI, PIO) girl forgot to collect one passport. She had to collect 4 she collected 3 she forgot one. Clerk called her and asked how many passport you have taken? 3 she replied. Check again, he barked. She realized some mistake and smiled, he handed over 4th one to her and she disappeared feeling foolish.
Around 4:00 my name was called. I went to the counter. Lady slipped back the receipt with something written on top and said “Adverse”
Now what the fuck is adverse I thought and not seeing my passport I felt pissed off and sick same time.
Your passport is not ready, she replied.
I asked why what is wrong? And what action I’ve to take?
She was one of the most confused Indian clerk I’ve ever met. I’ve been observing her while sitting and found that she didn’t know anything at all about the process and she was just uttering gibberish to anyone who dared to enquire further.
Same to me as well.
“Enquire with Indian Embassy at Bangalore”, she explained further.
What? What Indian Embassy? I replied back. What the fuck she is talking about, I thought, there is no fucking Indian Embassy in India.
Before she could replied I helped her to choose an answer.
Police Station? Police Commissioner Office? Passport Office? where I’ve to enquire, I asked.
Passport Office, if you have any contact check there, she replied.
I understood, clear and loud that I’m fucked.
Before quitting I enquired about File number as I’ve been doing some reasearch to find out al about this fucking Passport Renewal process and came to know that I need a file number which is not the same as Receipt number mentioned on the white Receipt.
What is the file number, I enquired.
She pointed to the receipt number and said that is file number.
I knew that it is useless to engage her more.
Thank you, I said, and dashed out of India Bhavan.
There is only one feeling you have whenever you come out of any Indian government building and that is “sickness”. That is what I felt again.
I was disturbed and I knew life is going to be hell for me again.
At this date 02-May-2010 it is 3 days short in 2 months and my passport renewal application has gone no where The only status I know is Adverse.
Felt like “trishanku” stuck in middle of no where. I’m stateless now. Without passport I belong to no land. I’ve no identity. I can’t get a new job without renewing my VISA and I can’t get VISA without renewing Passport.