Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Passport Experience

It was an experience quite unlike any I have ever had with passport offices earlier in my life. I remember the fading yellow building in Vijaynagar colony which was a virtual fortress and you never knew what to do and who to meet to get anything done. And the thousands of agents who were required to get anything done. I once had the job of trying to trace a document there and well, it was not the most pleasant of experiences. (But I do remember meeting a fine passport officer by the unusual name of Rommel, who was quick and decisive, and perhaps helped me then.)

Then the one in Secunderabad where I had a few more crazy experiences - all making me feel completely helpless and powerless in the total absence of processes, procedures and accountability. Once your file goes in there is no guarantee that it can be traced - it was thanks to the personal searches conducted by a rather expensive consultant that my passport which was dumped under some other files, was traced. Why did my passport end up there? Because they made a mistake with my ECNR status despite all documents staring them in the face. Not the best experience again.

So when it did come to getting Anjali's passport reissued, I checked out the online version warily, and got all the required documents done, paid the money and got the appointment which comes in really quick - next morning. Anjali and I landed up there just before noon and waited in the queue before the boys at the counter who checked our documents displayed good sense and sent the six year old in a token that probably gave her faster access - well done boys - it was almost lunch time and one does not need a cranky child waiting in queues for too long.

Once inside it all went on like clockwork. The counters, the procedures, the checks were all done in a smooth manner and we quickly moved on from the A counters to the B counters and finally the C counters where the old gentleman actually gave Anjali some candy. It was all done in about 45 minutes.

And that ended a really sweet experience at the Passport Seva Kendra, Ameerpet. What could top it? Receiving the passport of course. Anjali received it within a week - 5 days to be more precise. Good job MEA and good job all you young professionals at the counter.

Gone were those scowls, frowns, hungry and greedy looks, supercilious, rude and downright unacceptable behavior to applicants many of whom were simply ignorant and needed help. These kids worked with focus, were polite and patient and as I mentioned, even showed good discretion.

There is hope. 


Rajendra said...

We are arriving..this could have happened years earlier, phir bhi..der aaye durust aaye.

Harimohan said...

Oh, yes. Nice to see people deal with others professionally and take pride in their work.