Task II: To add husband’s name and change the address in my passport.
Parked the car in a ‘jigsaw puzzle like’ parking lot. Dodged eye contact with a dozen punters. Climbed two flights of beetle juice stained narrow staircase. And voila! there we were at the Lucknow Passport office. It was dark and humid inside, the air was stale and suffocating with what seemed like half of humanity crammed into a room the size of a microwave oven. The place looked (and smelled) like a fish market. (Did I hear anyone say Nazi concentration camp ? )
Reluctantly we stepped in, actually we got pushed in by hordes of people following us.
Inside, there was a contest in progress for entry into Limca book of record for building the longest queue. And I use the word queue loosely here because it was a little difficult to spot the ends (and the middle) of it. So, there were people standing in the queue, some standing out of queue, few people filling forms, some asking for pen from strangers to fill out the form, a few others asking others to fill out the form for them, and lots of them generally roaming here and there to meet the right person, As you can imagine, there is a lot of yelling and shouting at each other if someone jumps the queue people been standing in for half a day…..
At the other end of these queues (if you could actually see as far as the other end), were an array of pigeon-hole sized windows for serving the people. But you see this is an office of Govt. of India and you cant just turn up at one of these places and expect people to help you out. What you need to do is to follow the protocol. Which usualy involves a lot of inconvenience. Here it means filling out at least a dozen form before you can get anything done.
So we began be standing in one of those numerous queues to first obtain a Inquiry form which we need to fill out with the purpose of our visit to this beautiful place. Then stand in another queue to submit this inquiry form. If you manage to reach the window before lunch hour / tea break / or office closure time, the person behind this window will / might do the needful and if he/she could not do it (which was usually the case with me), he will tell you whom to contact next.
Anyways, we follow the required process, stand in 5 queues, fill out as many forms and finally part with my passport and the supporting documents. Person sitting behind the window verified them and told us that I would get my passport back in a week’s time with all the changes I requested for. Sounds great…!!
Three weeks had passed but no news on passport. We went to the passport office to inquire about it status. The lady sitting behind the inquiry window told us that I have to visit superintendent officer regarding my passport. We went to his office. Chaos again. There was a long queue in front of his office. His so-called PA was attending the queue. I guess he had more authority than Mr. Passport Officer himself, or atleast he thought so. So we had to nicer to him than to Mr. PO.
Okay, we got the chance to meet him in time because he’s available only for 2 hrs. We told him about our passport. He then checked the status in his machine and told us that as my Passport was issued from Bhopal so it would take another 2-3 week to add all the required details. And the good news was that my Visa appointment was scheduled for next week. I was like, Oh my God! don’t do this to me.
We told Mr. PO about Visa appointment and how desperately we needed the passport, he gave us option to write down all the changes manually as observations in the passport instead of printing in it. This was acceptable and it would take only a day. We were okay with that. He told us to collect the Passport after a day.
Next day we went to collect my passport. Again we were standing in front of Mr. PO office and behaving nicely to Mr. Assistant. We entered in the office and Mr. PO gave us the good news – my passport could not be spotted in the files and in most probability it was lost in the huge heap of passports at the office. The passport office lost my passport !!!!!!! Annoyed and Angry – but there was very little that I could do.
The officer, understanding our urgency, was kind enough to send out a search party to locate our passport. Next day we decided we will not leave the until we get the passport – whatever it takes. So on the following day we were sat a full 6 hours in the office Mr. PO. He seemed like a reasonable person but there was only so much he could do for a complete stranger like us. He was kind enough to reassure us every few hours that the passport will be found. Only not sure when it will be found.
I was so shattered from inside, full of anger. I could not express my anger and frustration at the officer – afraid if he would refuse to provide whatever little co-operation we were getting now.
We request him to give us permission to just take a look in the passport store-room. We went to the store-room and request one officer to help us in finding the passport. After spending couple of hours we left the office and gave my contact number in case if he find it. Needless to say we had lost all our hopes.
But we did get a call at around 4 PM. They has found it which I rushed to collect on the same-day and to thank Mr. PO for support & cooperation.
I thank my stars and hope I never have to visit that place again.