On Monday I had the priviledge of visiting the Passport Office for more than 4 hours. I have a special passport for Israel, which had been issued to me for all of 1 year. This passport is about to expire, and I need to travel to Israel again. Off I went to the Passport Office to enquire about the procedure of renewing this passport.
Now if you have ever had the good opportunity of visiting Bangalore's Passport Office, you'll sympatise with me. If not, all I can say is "Good things come to those who wait". Anyway, I digress.
First stop: a long snaking enquiry queue, which wound it way along the wall to the outside into the compound. Took 2 hours to reach the counter, first standing, then playing musical chairs.
Armed with the info, I hit the next queue, even longer than the first at Counter 4 "Misc services". I was the second last person in this queue, and I finished in 2 hrs. By which time my stomach was crying for attention. Ok, now food!
I need this passport urgently, and these guys want to post the passport to me after a week. So I wanted to know how to come and collect it myself. Simple, they said. Get a letter from the company, get an appointment with the Asst Passport Office, and voila, it'll be done.
Wednesday, the saga continues. This time its a 1 1/2 hour wait in another long queue for getting an appointment with the APO. By now, the gentle reader will appreciate that the Passport Office is a wonderful place, well ordered, working smoothly like a well oiled machine. Finally, had the appointment with the APO. I was overjoyed, mission accomplished. Now a quick hello to the APO and off I go to work. My mouth drooling at all the work I can accomplish at the office now.
Upstairs, there was another (you guessed it) queue at the APO's office, but a small one. And this queue really crawled. My previous visit to the APO, when I was getting the Israel passport made on Tatkal, was very quick. This took me all of 3 hrs. The reason was soon obvious, this guy was getting calls right and left, and we could hear him talking on the phone. What a pathetic little bugger. And there were people who kept dropping in to visit him.
I was getting really pissed. The next time 2 guys came to meet him, I showed them the end of the queue. They were throughly astonished. Then one said in a threating voice, that they were government officials, and I should not question them. (How dare I? Bad Cheetah!) Imagine the cheek of these bastards. They said they'd come to meet the APO, and taken an appointment. They said they were not here for a personal visit.
I said that I'd taken an appointment to meet the APO personally, and ask him his "haal chaal", maybe invite him for dinner. Me and my big mouth. I saw that my brand of humour was not tickling them, so I went back to the comfort of my seat. Then bitched till my turn came. The APO, surprisingly, was very efficient. He took a few minutes to hear my story, and said that the passport would be ready tomorrow.
I raced off into the sunset, ur.. office, my little "panga" all forgotten in the delight of getting the passport so fast. God bless the APO.